An index is not simply a list of words with page numbers, but brings together significant references to a subject or concept that are scattered throughout a publication. Time is of the essence, and it is through the index that a reader is able to quickly locate vital information for research purposes or general interest.


Although computers are useful tools when searching for information, they cannot thoroughly assess the text to compile valuable indexes. An indexer will thoroughly analyse the meaning of the content while identifying substantial concepts useful to the reader. Where keyword-based systems look for specific words, indexers can pick up related terms. An indexer will, for example, pick up that phrases such as “man’s best friend”, “domesticated canine” or “purebred hound” all refer to a “dog”.


Computers cannot:


  • Distinguish between homographs (words spelt the same with different meanings)

  • Distinguish between major and minor references

  • Link information and show relationships through cross-references

  • Automatically search for information using synonyms or related terms

  • Include sub-headings to present information usefully

  • Include all meaningful references to a subject


Using an Indexer

Hiring a professional indexer ensures readers have access to a valuable resource.


Why not use an author?


Authors are often too close to the text, lack the necessary professional training and don’t have time to compile the index.


Indexes allow readers to:


  • Find information on a particular topic quickly

  • Get an idea of what the text is about before reading through it

  • Easily refer back to a passage for re-reading

  • Pick up links and themes throughout the book