Preparing an index
The British Standard defines an index as 'a systematic arrangement of entries designed to enable users to locate information in a document'. (BS ISO 999:1996)
You might well think you are the best person to provide the index - you know your way round the book better than anyone else. It is possible that you are in the best position to know what the reader is most likely to look up. There are, however, professional indexers who can undertake the task if you lack the time, expertise or inclination.
A good indexer:
An outsider might also provide a refreshing perspective on your work. WritersServices indexing service
An index enables readers to search for terms, half-remembered quotes or names. One or more good indexes are an excellent way to promote the utility of some types of work. Look upon an index as the 'search engine' for your book. Unless you are dealing with fiction, you would probably benefit from at least one index.
Page numbers cannot be inserted until the book has been typeset. However, modern indexers use sophisticated software to help them produce an index. This allows them to provide the information in the format specified by the designer. A good time to list the items for your index is when you do one of the final reads. You will need to provide the index to the designer as part of the manuscript. If your book is to be published through WritersPrintShop, you can if you wish decide to work from a proof copy of the book, but you will have to pay the revision fee when you have prepared the index. This increases the cost and will delay publication.
As a rule of thumb the index of an academic book might occupy 10-15% of the page count. For a 'trade' book 5% of the text pages for an index based on a two- column setup for the index.
The purpose of the index is to help readers find their way round your book. Only key concepts and names should be indexed; an over-detailed index is not always helpful. So preparing an index is not a trivial task.
Most books need only one index (a subject index, or a combined subject and names index), although some specialised books may require an index of names as well as an index of subjects.
An index goes after the main text. It should not be confused with a table of contents or chapter headings which precede the text. However every book is an individual and you, as the author (and publisher), have to decide what is appropriate.
There are 2 stages involved in making a good index:
Tips & Conventions
If someone prepares an index for you, they are entitled to assert their copyright so this needs to form part of any agreement. What you, if you are a self-publisher, want is a royalty-free right to use the index in exchange for a fee.
For a detailed description of how to make an index:
For a review of three indexing software packages:
Society of indexers (UK)http://www.wellchosenword.com/prfIserv.htm
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