The Index

 While the table of contents provides the chapter organization of the text, the index provides a roadmap to the topics.

The index

  • gathers important information from many points in the text
  • arranges the information into headings and subheadings
  • uses cross-references to indicate where related material may be found
  • uses both the language of the text and the user’s language

Computer-generated indexes list all page references to a term. However, they neither specify the references nor arrange them. For this reason, computer-generated indexes tend not to be user friendly. For example, you might want to know about security features on your tablet.

Which information do you find more useful:
security   9, 75, 83, 112, 142, 136, 137, 154, 155, 280, 289, 419, 497
security. See also privacy
                access restrictions, 136–137
                Auto-Lock feature, 136
                deleting data remotely, 293
                Find My iPad app, 9, 83, 154–155, 419
                Game Center invitations, 280
                image overlays, 229
                Passcode Lock feature, 136
                passwords, 75
                settings management, 136–137
                Siri, 497
                Wi-Fi, 289

It provides entry points for the person who has read the book and wants to locate a piece of information. It assists the browser who wants to know if the book covers topics he or she is interested in.

It assists the reader who has specialized subject knowledge and is looking up a term such as Keynote app and the general reader who is more likely to want to find out if the book has information on preparing a presentation. A good index accommodates both readers.


Types of indexes

If a text requires a simple index, you might choose to create one with single headings:
prioritizing marriage, 138-142, 177-179
problem solving, 96-101
professional money management, 172-173
psychology, positive, 230-231
The index for a longer text divides the information using subheadings. You might choose between a vertical style:

communication, electronic
                email, 187–195, 237
                phone, 203–212
                social media, 197–201
                texting, 200–201
                VoIP, 201–202
                web, 199–200
or a run-in style:
communication, electronic
                email, 187–195, 237; phone, 203–212; social media, 197–201;
                texting, 200–201;VoIP, 201–202; web, 199–200.

Choice of style may be dictated by available space or preference.

I produce user-friendly indexes at competitive rates. Working with the author and/or publisher, I create an index that meets length and style specifications and conveys the central themes and ideas of the text. I use dedicated index software for professional results.

Rates are commonly based on cost per indexable page. Depending on the complexity of the work, the cost may range from $3 to $6 per indexable page. The best way to estimate cost is to provide a 10-page sample from the middle of the book for evaluation. Email me at


I am a member of the Indexing Society of Canada and the American Society for Indexing.

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