Editing Others’ Indexes

Working with new indexers and non-indexers is one of my greatest indexing-related pleasures and I’ve been providing these types of support since 1998. I’ve been helping authors, editors, and publishers by providing a variety of indexing services besides writing indexes. These are similar to the kinds of assistance I give to new indexers, yet they are geared towards others in the publishing industry. Among the services I provide are:

  • Editorial feedback before indexes are sent to layout. Having a professional indexer review indexes written by non-professionals is a great way to be sure indexes are as good as they can be. I’m careful to maintain the voice of the index author while making certain that the index is consistent and complete and follows industry standards. 
  • On-call troubleshooting and guidance as you write indexes. People who are expected to write indexes even though they haven’t had training in indexing may feel overwhelmed trying to keep in mind the technical rules of indexing while also trying to write a useful index. During your project, I can provide guidance, advice, and encouragement from the perspective of an experienced professional indexer.
  • Whatever you need! I’m interested in helping you in the ways you need help, so contact me if you have other ideas about how I might help improve your indexes.

Editorial Feedback

How this usually works… Send me a copy of the index and the table-of-contents. I send you my editorial feedback. We can then discuss the feedback if you’d like. I’m happy to work face-to-face, email, my virtual meeting room, or on the phone – whatever is most convenient for you.

In providing feedback, I focus on providing comments and opening discussions with you by asking questions like the following:

  • Is there adequate double-posting and are those access points appropriate for this audience?
  • Is the wording appropriate? If not, how could it be improved?
  • Are any subheadings awkward or misrepresentative? If so, how could they be improved?
  • Does the index need to be condensed or whittled down to fit onto fewer pages? If so, how do you do that without compromising the structure?
  • Does the structure of the index appropriately emphasize the author’s approach? Are important topics covered in detail in the index?
  • Have you made good choices with subject analysis? Is anything in the book missing or misrepresented in the index? Are the topics in the index relevant and important? Is the level of specificity and exhaustivity accurate and consistent?
  • Is the depth of indexing consistent?
  • Does the structure need to be tightened? Is the depth and style consistent? Are the entries arranged appropriately? Are there adequate cross-references? Are the entries treated as part of whole, as well as being their own entities?
  • If you have any other specific concerns, just tell me what you want me to look for.

Ongoing Consultations

How this usually works… Contact me at any point in your process when you want guidance or want to bounce ideas off an experienced indexer. You can send different parts of the index at different times in your process, or call me when you are struggling with a particular aspect of indexing (for example, deciding on wording, appropriate levels of detail, or editing). It’s up to you!

I’ll provide guidance on issues like:

  • Term selection: are these concepts worth indexing, are these main headings useful, are these cross-references and double-posts useful?
  • Handling special features: when do you index illustrations, programming code, or tables? What entries are appropriate for the features in this text?
  • Create adequate and useful double-posts and cross-references for this audience.
  • Emphasize the author’s approach in your index structure.
  • Use clear, efficient phrasing.
  • Use clear subheadings to make entries concise, but thorough.
  • Follow your style guide, or make sure your style decisions are appropriate for this audience.
  • Maintain a consistent depth of indexing.
  • Meet your length limits without compromising index structure.
  • If you have any other specific concerns, just tell me what you want me to look for.

I’m Game

Send me e-mail to let me know if you are interested in talking with me about any index consultation and editorial services that I can provide for you.

Fees and Scheduling

Send me e-mail if you’d like to get a price quote or to find out if my schedule will work for you.

My fees vary depending on the features of the index. For any contract, you can set a maximum number of hours, so there are no surprises when I invoice you.

Contact me as early as possible, so we can work out a schedule that works for both of us.