With thanks to William Shakespeare’s King Lear, I acknowledge that it takes a special mindset to become a book indexer. A good indexer sees connections in the text, and can guide readers to content in a straightforward and logical way.
A good book index is a map of a book, as Sam Leith says, “a cunningly devised series of magical shortcuts that can … save a scholar many hours of work.”
An index is so much more than just a listing of topics in a book. A superb index will make connections between topics that might not occur to a casual reader of the book. This is especially helpful for scholars and researchers who are looking for connections in everything they read.
As Harold Macmillan wrote when inaugurating the UK’s Society of Indexers some sixty years ago, a good index is “much more than a guide to the contents of a book. It can often give a far clearer glimpse of its spirit than the blurb-writers or critics are able to do.”
Excellent book indexers must be mind readers, intuiting what readers will want to find in a book, and anticipating how they might go about looking for those topics. What words will they use? What concepts will they seek? How will an index help them to find what they need?
I have been indexing books for more than a decade. It’s a task that comes naturally to me, as I order the world around me into logical groupings. It’s how I’m wired.
The blog posts on this site discuss the madcap world of indexing. Step into my world…
Ann Aubrey Hanson
“Ann Aubrey Hanson did a very comprehensive job on the index for our book, Creative Economy Entrepreneurs. She was a joy to work with, informative, and very accommodating to our timeline. We will definitely use her again shall the need arise.”
The Creative Startups Team/Ginny Sterpka, Program Manager
“Ann Aubrey Hanson indexed a very long, very dense book on a very tight schedule. She did a fantastic job, including catching errors within the text that we missed. The index was thorough and professional, and increased the value and usability of the book. We will absolutely contact her again for her services in the future.”
Sarah Heneghan, Program Manager, Post Hill Press
“Ann Aubrey Hanson did an outstanding job in creating a very thorough, complex, and lengthy index for my 450-page book on the history of US national security strategy. Her index met my requirements and expectations for the book, and it will play a significant role in encouraging the public sale of the book. This is my 20th published book in the national security field, and I have worked with many editors and indexers at RAND, the Department of Defense, and for-profit publishers. I can say, without qualification, that Ann is at the top of her profession for editing and indexing. I plan to use her for future books and I encourage other writers and researchers to do the same.”
Richard Kugler, Washington, DC