Anyone can create an index, right? Not exactly. It is true that anyone with the right software can create a concordance for a book. However, this does not mean that anyone can or should create an index for your publication.

Here's why. A professionally created, custom-made index offers your readers more than a concordance, which is only an alphabetized list of words at the end of a book. The custom-made index is an intuitive map for your readers; it helps readers navigate through your book quickly and efficiently. This is because a professional indexer anticipates the needs of your readers in a way that concordance generating software simply cannot do.

Trust a professional indexer. After reading your book, I can create a custom-made index to your specifications with my professional indexing software. This index will give your book even greater appeal in today’s increasingly competitive marketplace. The casual reader and serious researcher alike will return to your book again and again because it contains meaningful information that is easy to locate in its custom-made index.

Saturday, November 12, 2011

Man vs. Machine: Why Hire an Indexer When I Can Create an Index at the Touch of a Button?

This is a question that may be in the back of many authors' minds. Quite possibly, a production editor with a looming deadline and decreasing budget may even dare ask the above question. Why not choose the route of automated indexing? A machine isn't limited by the need for sleep, and it doesn't require payment for its services, so what's there not to love about automated indexing?

Simply put, a machine can't think. A machine cannot determine the major theme running through any given text. A machine can search and sort, but a machine cannot synthesize. In reference to a colleague's index, author, Tim Brookes, thoughtfully addresses the topic of man vs. machine in his online article, "What About the Worthy Indexer?"

“Indexing is not going to die out,” Kathy replied, “at least for the foreseeable future, because an index is not simply a list. Rather, as Jean Jesensky explained when she visited my class, an index represents an information map that reflects who will use the text (what sort of readers it will have and what information they are likely to be interested in), as well as a host of other things. While we can automate the selection of information, we are not yet able to automate the organization of that information into the most useful hierarchies, and it is likely to be a long time before we can do that, because, as you know, computers are not yet able to replicate the human thought process. Even if that changes, it is likely that indexing will morph into some sort of IT career (applying tags, etc.).”

To keep reading about Mr. Brookes' opinion of the custom-made index, click on this link:

Many thanks to fellow indexer, Rose Ippolito, for sharing this link!