The Society of Indexers

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Advice for publishers and editors

Commissioning an index

If you're not sure how to choose and brief an indexer, or to judge whether an index is of an acceptable standard, why not invite a professional tutor-indexer into your company to run a tailor-made workshop focusing on the editorial needs of you and your colleagues?

A detailed guide to the commissioning of indexes, Last But Not Least: A Guide for Editors Commissioning Indexes has been published by the Society. Authors considering indexing their own books might like to download our leaflet; indexing your own book is not to be undertaken lightly, unless you already have a flair for it.

If you're not sure why ebooks need indexes and are struggling to understand how indexing fits into new production processes, you will find a vast amount of useful information on the Society of Indexers Publishing Technology Group Website: www.ptg-indexers.org.uk/

Completing this MS Word (RTF) form  and emailing it to potential indexers will help them assess their availability and suitability for the job and quote a realistic fee. If you need an indexer urgently, try telephoning first to check availability.

Editors or other clients are recommended to:

  • contact indexers at an early stage and keep them informed of any changes to the schedule
  • agree the professional requirements of both sides, preferably in writing, when the index is commissioned.

Points to discuss are:

  • length and layout of the required index
  • time schedule
  • proofreading by the indexer
  • crediting the indexer in the text
  • providing a complimentary copy of the work
  • the fee

Once the indexer has been booked for the job, it is vitally important to keep him/her informed of any changes to the schedule. Failure to do so may mean that the indexer will not be able to juggle their own schedule to fit the job in at a different time. It can also mean the indexer having no work during the time originally booked, resulting in loss of income.  

Settlement of the invoice is expected within four (4) weeks unless otherwise agreed. The Society’s sample indexing contract [ 19 Kb ] is available on this website.

Style and scope of indexes

Indexers are usually advised to follow the British Standards Institution recommendations BS ISO 999 (1996). An index should be comprehensive: its scope should include all significant items in the text including, if necessary, illustrations, diagrams and tables, bibliographies and references, introductions and appendices.

Copyright and moral rights

In an index compiled by a freelance indexer, copyright is normally owned in the first instance by the indexer, who may assign it to the person or organization commissioning the index. Moral rights cannot be assigned by the indexer, but may be waived. The terms of the contract between the two parties should therefore cover ownership and assignment of copyright, as well as the question of moral rights.

Last updated: 05 May 2016 | Maintained by Webmaster | Page ID: 136
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