What does a professional indexer do?
An index is much more than a simple list of keywords and page references. Indexing is an intellectual activity in which the content of a printed or electronic publication is read and analysed to identify terms and concepts that the reader is most likely to want to find.
A professionally compiled index:
- is clear, comprehensive and consistent in style
- includes subheadings to help the reader locate specific aspects of topics without having to search through irrelevant pages
- connects all related headings in the index through the use of see and see also references
- includes explanatory notes to put headings into context
- may distinguish page references for illustrations, tables and footnotes from page references related to the main text.
A career in indexing
There are several online/distance education training courses in indexing and ANZSI occasionally offers short courses and workshops on indexing. The various ANZSI groups provide opportunities for getting together with others interested in indexing. Networking is essential for career development.
Are you suited to indexing work?
Indexing is often a second career, and most indexers are freelancers. Self-employment offers the freedom of being able to work from home, as well as the ability to choose your own working hours, but you also need to consider if you:
- have analytical skills and are good, or could become good, at subject analysis
- are able to grasp unfamiliar concepts quickly
- are self-motivated and able to work alone
- are good at networking and developing working relationships
- are interested in new technology and updating your skills
- are prepared at times to work unsociable hours to meet tight deadlines
- are able to cope with the insecurity of an erratic workflow
- are able to run a small business.
What equipment do you need?
You will need a computer, various software packages and an internet connection. Many indexers do not work from hardcopy manuscripts but prefer to use PDFs on a second screen, keeping their primary screen for their indexing software.