1. Why does my book need an index?
An index is a foundational navigational tool for any non-fiction material. Consulting the index allows readers to quickly find information that is sorted intuitively according to subject matter and other factors. The index is not a list of terms that occur in the book but a representation of the wider concepts explored. Our indexers (or Puddings) are able to quickly appraise the content of a book and disseminate the material appropriately throughout the index according to key words, concepts, alternative phrases and other areas that a reader may look to find that material. Our Puddings are able to evaluate the material of a book within the scope of the book and broader context.
2. Are our indexes produced by humans or automatically generated by computers?
All of our indexes are produced by people, by a small team of Puddings who quietly beaver away in a quaint little sandstone cottage that can be found among the leafy trees of Hunters Hill. You can see our team here.
Although we do use specialised computer software in the indexing process devised by us, this is for the technical aspects such as ensuring formatting consistency and confirming the entries are in alphabetical order.
3. Isn’t there computer software that can automatically create indexes?
Although computer software can produce a list of key terms, this is just a list of where specific words (or phrases) are used in the text. Unlike an index prepared by a professional indexer, it does not:
- link related words or phrases;
- distinguish between trivial and important references to a word or phrase in the text; or
- list alternative terms to the ones chosen by the author that the reader might also use.
4. How do we go about indexing?
There are no hard and fast rules — it depends on a number of factors such as budget, deadlines, the type of text to be indexed and any specific client requests and house styles.
Nevertheless, indexing involves a thorough analysis of the text and consideration of the terms to be used in entries, in order to construct a useful and logical map of the book for the reader.
5. How long does it take to create an index?
As our indexes are not automatically generated by computers, this depends on a number of factors including the length and complexity of the text, timelines and specific client requests.
We are always more than happy to discuss any timing requirements that our clients may have and to work within their production timelines.
6. How do we decide what to put in an index?
We would generally include:
- key terms or phrases that are recommended by the author;
- any alternative terms to the ones chosen by the author that readers might also consult;
- specific topics or concepts that are discussed in the text; and
- anything else that we consider readers might find useful.
7. What kinds of texts do we index?
We work and have extensive experience with a wide variety of texts, including:
- legal and academic textbooks;
- scholarly works;
- looseleaf services;
- nursing textbooks;
- children’s encyclopaedias;
- biographies; and
- a variety of non-fiction and lifestyle titles.