Hung up on the Index?

One of the last steps to take in putting your book together is the creation of the index, when all pages have been finalized. Just put together a little index, right? Not so fast…..

When your book is completed, or so you think, the index can appear to be an afterthought. But it is actually a valuable time-consuming work in itself which is an important component of your final book. There are amazingly skilled indexers who specialize in this task alone.

InDesign, for example, has a great indexing tool, but the intelligent portion of the work has to be done by hand, as each reference must be selected initially at least once in the text. It’s also a good practice to check and proof the additional referenced pages that InDesign automatically adds, as there is no need for duplicates of a single page reference.

I recommend that if you are self-publishing your book, prepare your index items yourself, as part of your manuscript. When doing so, you can not only save money on the task, but you can indicate some of the nicknames or shortened versions of the topics you’re including. A computer indexing layout program can’t know these subtle references and will only search for and select exact words. A flexible mind can create a tight and very useful index, better than any program can. A layout program can be used to define the index within the document itself, in preparation for publication, but is no substitute for your own intelligent mind.

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