Private Tutorials

Anyone who wants to learn how to write useful indexes will find my private tutorials worth their weight in gold.

A few editors and authors have taken my tutorials in order to better prepare them for editing indexes submitted to them for publication.

Jump to: What Makes My Tutorials Unique |  Proposed Process | Completion Requirements | Cost and Time Estimates

“Thank you thank you thank you!
Thanks for the enthusiastic support of all that I did right.
Thanks for the corrections, all of which make sense.
Thanks for the general list of comments which I will always be able to use to benchmark future indexes.
Thanks for being such a kick-ass teacher!” – Teresa Lance (2014)

What Makes My Tutorials Unique?

“You are among the very best teachers I’ve ever had, and I’m grateful for it. You’ve been so helpful professionally and personally… I’m sad to have our teacher-student relationship end.” – Mary Stevens, Lecturer and Coordinator State University of New York, College at New Paltz

Here’s a highlight of a few of the differences between my tutorials and courses offered through institutions:

  • Lessons are customizable. We don’t have to follow a one-size-fits-all process or standardized content. Our work is tailored to focus on what is most important and most valuable to you.
  • When I send my feedback on indexes, I attach supporting documents that include excerpts of dozens of other indexes (and in some cases entire indexes) for the same text that you just worked with. Seeing how other indexers approached the same text is a fantastic way to decide what you did better than someone else or what you want to do differently next time. These kinds of Aha Moments are very powerful for motivated learners.
  • I focus on indexing competency and practical application of the readings. I weave reading comprehension into my feedback about your indexes. Other courses include reading comprehension exercises requiring you to recite and recall information in your readings through fill-in-the-blank and multiple choice questions. These sorts of exercises are less effective with adult learners motivated to learn new career skills.
  • You can buy one segment at a time instead of paying all at once. (I can accept checks or credit cards.) Most other courses require payment for the entire course before sending out any materials. After completing a lesson or two, many students decide that particular course doesn’t suit their needs, so they’re out hundreds of dollars. My tutorials enable people to try out my course and try out indexing. If people decide to stop studying with me, they’re only out the money for the lessons they’ve actually taken.
  • Work at your own pace. Some folks have finished all four segments within a couple of months. Since there is no end-date for my tutorials and registration never expires, some people have taken a couple of years to complete them because other life priorities took precedence. No sweat. One of the large institutions has a course expiration date of just six months after registering. Another of the courses has an expiration date of 1 year after you register and allows you to purchase one 6-month extension. These allow little wiggle room for life’s unexpected events.
  • I send all assigned readings to you in a packet. You don’t have to track down each article or book in order to complete all the assignments.
From a student who initially signed up for a different course: “All the information you have given so far is like a very satisfying “grout” in what are big free-standing chunks of information that I have from different places. The general structure and context you are offering in your approach might be just the right thing to help me solidify information – as well as introduce me to some new content chunks, too. (Like what to actually say when the publishers come a callin’.)” She later wrote: “I just finished reading [the documents], and as I had suspected, the explanations and examples and caveats you give, and the language you use, are all part of that “grout” I mentioned I have been looking for as I continue to learn indexing concepts and terminology… (Grout made of powdered jewels now as far as I’m concerned!)” – anonymous

These lessons can be completed at your convenience and are not tied to any specific location or time. I’ve worked with students all over the globe, including India, England, Canada, and the United States. I’ve even worked with students living just a few miles from me, which allowed us to create a course that was a hybrid of distance learning and face-to-face meetings.

By providing custom tutorials in building a foundation of basic indexing skills, I can modify the content or approach based on what each individual student needs.

Our discussions and the intensity of focus on the topics included in the course depend on what is most important to you. For example, if you have little interest in embedded indexing, there’s no need to discuss it after you’ve gone through the basic readings about it. If you feel grounded in freelance & small business issues, we’ll skip that segment.

My planned topics for each segment are:

  1. This first segment starts with a broad look at intellectual access and the process of writing an index. Included is information about some of the benefits and challenges of freelance indexing, descriptions of the indexing processes used by a number of indexers (so you can take a peek into how different indexers approach their work), and an introduction to analyzing and choosing index terms for specific passages of text.
  2. In the second segment, we go into more detail about styles and structures of indexes*, topic analysis (evaluating discussions to weigh their inclusion in an index and decide how to include them)*, and term selection* (choosing keywords that start main headings and also choosing phrasing subheadings). Also included are readings about index structure (after you try your hand at writing an index the concept of the “structure” of indexes will probably make more sense), publisher style guides, and index formats.
  3. There are two parts to the third segment:
    • Evaluating and editing indexes – including improving usability, understanding information retrieval behavior*, planning projects with clients. By editing your indexes and evaluating indexes written by others, your own process & style will evolve. This segment includes information about what to look for when you edit or evaluate indexes. It also includes other index quality-related discussions.
    • Technical issues – including an overview of automated and semi-automated indexing, descriptions of “online indexing,” an introduction to embedded indexing, and suggestions for evaluating & selecting indexing software.
  4. The segment that completes most people’s training with me focuses on freelance and business issues. We cover information about where to find clients, how to approach potential clients (including the dreaded cold-query letters, as well as alternatives to them), what to expect during phone calls with potential clients, etc. Few other indexing courses include this information to the same depth as my tutorials, despite the fact that it is critical information for people who are new to freelancing or business ownership.

* These issues will be woven throughout all future segments.

For each segment, you will write an index for a self-contained text that is 40-80 pages. I’ll provide you with the first few texts, and I ask that you choose the rest. I want you to practice writing indexes for books in subject areas of interest to you. Some students have used their indexes from these lessons as samples in their marketing materials and on their websites.

E-mail or call me if you would like to see an expanded table-of-contents that includes a detailed list of readings and descriptions of assigned indexing exercises.

“I’m glad you require peer review (although it was excruciating to put my index out there for close scrutiny!). It really does help you see the index differently.” – Dona Roell, AdVerbum Book Works

I require everyone studying with me to participate in peer-reviews (see Completion requirements below) because the main drawback to private, one-on-one indexing courses is that many of the Aha Moments that new indexers experience during training happens when they’re in a room full of people using their index just as real readers would. Online or face-to-face peer reviews are the best approach I’ve found to inject this valuable experience into self-paced tutorials.

I’m available to my students throughout the entire training process and beyond. I always welcome email and phone calls from current & former students who have indexing-related questions, concerns, or issues.

“How grateful I am to have you in my life and to have you as a teacher. You are a supporting, kindhearted, generous person.” – anonymous

Cheer leading is a big part of my personal approach to teaching indexing. Most people interested in indexing are perfectionists, and as such we have a difficult time adjusting to work that rarely has clear right or wrong answers. This is something that I also continue to struggle with, although it faded a bit as I gained experience. With this in mind, I make sure that I encourage new indexers by pointing out their natural abilities and good indexing decisions along the way.

“The encouragement you gave me…is beyond words. Thank you so much for that.” – anonymous (2004)

Proposed Process

First, we’ll agree on the terms of the tutorial. I’ll send you an agreement/contract for the tutorials, which you’ll sign and return to me. At that point we dive in:

  1. You send a payment for one (or more) segment.
  2. I send you a packet of readings for the segment(s) purchased. The packets include (but aren’t limited to) notes I’ve written about the topics in this lesson, list of relevant portions of Mulvany’s book, copies of related articles, and an indexing assignment.
  3. You contact me if you have any questions about the readings or the assignment while working through them.
  4. You return your completed indexing assignment to me.
  5. I review your index and provide extensive feedback on it. This will be similar to what I provide through my consultation services.
  6. You let me know when you are ready to chat with me about the index. We’ll agree on a date and time. I prefer face-to-face meetings but most students talk with me on the phone or in online meeting rooms. Whatever is most convenient.
  7. We meet to discuss the readings and review your indexing assignment. Our discussions will probably be mostly about the index-writing experience, but we can talk about any indexing or freelance issues that are on your mind.
  8. You let me know if you’d like to talk again about your index after you have had an opportunity to review my comments by yourself.
  9. We start the process over again for the next segment.
“Thank you for the extensive feedback on my first index… I was ecstatic to finally read such supportive and encouraging feedback… As a former grad instructor, I really appreciate your thorough and comprehensive comments and notes; you’ve left no stone unturned. Already, working with you has been such an effective learning experience!” – Shaun Myers

Completion Requirements

  • Thorough reading of Nancy Mulvany’s Indexing Books.
  • Complete reading of all articles and handouts provided in segment packets.
  • Completion of at least 4 index-writing assignments.
  • Participation in a minimum of 2 peer reviews, either live or online. (There are some online review resources for people who don’t live near other indexers.)
“One of the more challenging — and useful — things about Kari’s course is that she encourages her students to look much further than her instruction for answers to questions. Of course she’s always there to give help and encouragement, but she wants us to have a much bigger picture. Having indexes peer-reviewed is just one of those things… All this on top of Kari’s feedback gave me a huge boost in both skills and confidence… I appreciate that this course is much more than book-learning. The indexing community is so very spread out and diverse.” – Margie Joy

Cost and Time Estimates

My tutorials are on a pay-as-you-go arrangement: you pay in advance for one segment at a time. Some people prefer to pay for all at once, which is also fine. E-mail or call me for the per-segment fees. There is no need for any other type of financial commitment. Some people who begin indexing courses decide that indexing isn’t a good fit for them after working on a few lessons. It doesn’t quite seem fair for me to charge you a bundle of money for a bundle of lessons that you might not not actually complete.

I accept checks, money orders, or credit cards (through PayPal).

You set your own schedule for each segment. You can be as formal or as informal as you’d like. Most people keep their target dates to themselves, but it’s cool for you to tell me your target dates for completing lessons.

The speed at which people complete the entire process depends mostly on the student. Most finished in just a couple of months and others have taken several years. Obviously, the time will depend on both of our schedules and whether live has thrown any surprises our way.

I guarantee to provide up to 2 hours of instruction time for each individual segment. I spend that time reviewing indexes, preparing feedback, and discussing indexing and business-related issues with you.

“I really appreciate the way you work… how much effort and compassion it took on your part to give the substantial, orderly, multi-level, and very focused feedback that you do… Like I tell my truly wonderful mechanic ‘I feel sorry for anyone who’s not your customer!’” – Diane Johns


E-mail or call me if you have any questions, or if you would like references from students who’ve studied with me.

“My experience with you has been nothing short of enjoyable and encouraging. ” – Samantha A. Terhorst-Steele