What is an index?

An index is a systematized (usually alphabetical) list of the names, places, subjects, and/or concepts found in the book. An index normally appears in the back of the book. Indexes are prepared at the very end of a publishing project after all editing and design layout tasks are complete and page numbering is locked.

Why should a book have an index? 

Most non-fiction books can benefit from having an index. Potential readers, for example, will often look for an index to determine if the book contains material of interest. Librarians also value indexes when deciding whether to order a certain book, as do book reviewers when evaluating the merits of a non-fiction work. An index gives a book lasting value as a reference resource, allowing users to look things up instead of paging through the book (sometimes in vain) to find a specific subject.

Why is it beneficial to hire a professional indexer?

Professional indexers are trained in index preparation, including term selection, cross-referencing, formatting, and usability preferences. They also bring attention to detail, language skills, and familiarity with publishing practices, all of which add value to any index.

Can’t a computer produce an index?

No. A software program like Word can produce what is called a concordance list, which is a list of all terms appearing in a document. A computer cannot, however, think or make judgments about how a reader may want to look up a subject of interest—which may or may not be how that subject is referred to in the text. A software program also cannot create cross-references or other connections between related terms to enable a reader to find what he or she wants efficiently and thoroughly.

How long does it take to prepare an index?

An index for a trade book of several hundred pages can take about a month to prepare properly, while longer and/or highly complex works may take more time. It is possible to accommodate a shorter turnaround, but the project cost will likely increase.

How much does an index cost?

As a rule of thumb, an index of a non-fiction trade book typically ranges from $3 to $6 per indexable page in the proof.

Before beginning an indexing project, Lana will review an excerpt of the material to be indexed (including any images and captions) to assess its complexity. Text word count, image count, number of indexable pages in the proof, any constraints on index length, and schedule urgency are other important inputs to the fee estimate, which Lana will provide in writing for your approval.

Please contact Lana for a quote on your project.