index: done!

Earlier I asked for advice about indexing. I decided to do it myself. Here’s what I learned:

1.) This is tedious work.
2.) It takes about 2 days, and has two parts.
3.) Part 1: deciding on terms. This is valuable, and I’m glad I did it myself. It requires reading the manuscript carefully for concepts. It made me see my text in a new light (what ideas I’m really working with and what’s more important). I also used Wordle out of curiosity. It wasn’t that helpful. But it was interesting.
4.) Part 2: Indexing your chosen words. With searchable PDFs, this isn’t so hard, but the search function is dangerous, because sometimes concepts aren’t the same as exact words (go figure!). So I went back to step 1 at times and wrote down synonyms to search for as well. This part is brainless about 90% of the time. And I found it took longer than part 1. But for the other 10% of the time, really knowing my manuscript helped. If I were to outsource a task, this would be the one. But I’m still not sure if I would.

Was indexing worth two days of my life? I’m not sure. But the time was also a bit of double-dipping, as I also had to go through the page proofs. And Part 1 helped with that. Now that I’m REALLY done (I can never touch this thing again) I’m both very excited and a little scared.

5 thoughts on “index: done!”

  1. Thanks for sharing your impressions. I’m leaning toward doing it myself, particularly so that I can sneak some amusing words into the index.


  2. Hooray! Good work. As I wrote before, I don’t really see the alternative. Particularly since when I inquired with the press they wanted to charge $1200 *and* require that we provide the keywords, which sounds like a very expensive search-and-replace process.


  3. particularly so that I can sneak some amusing words into the index.

    I know of a group of people who used to go bowling together in grad school. The indexes of their respective books contain entries that reference the bowling average of each person in the group.


  4. Ditto!
    I was convinced by the original post & comments not to explore outsourcing the indexing. I did most of (1) deciding on terms while I awaited the page proofs, although the process yielded some additions and subtractions. Part (2) seemed natural in the course of page proofing. I’m glad these tasks occurred together: wouldn’t have wanted to look at every page of the book twice.

    Now I’m wondering, am I totally done? What comes next, just getting the book in the mail, or is there another task? Looking forward to the fruit of my labor.


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