The Society of Indexers

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Essential resources and recommended reading

This page is for students working on the 3rd edition of the Training Course. Students working on the 4th edition should refer to the 'General reference' pages in the Resource Centre of the training website.

Reference sources

You must own a good English language dictionary and have easy access (e.g. Internet or a library with up-to-date stock) to a range of encyclopaedias, directories, bibliographies and other reference sources.

British Standards

Once you have successfully completed Unit A of the Training in Indexing course, you will need:

BS ISO 999: 1996 Information and documentation: Guidelines for the content, organization and presentation of indexes. London: BSI.

BS 1749: 1985 Alphabetical arrangement and the filing order of numbers and symbols. London: BSI.

The training course units refer to these standards frequently and they are central to indexing practice. You will also need them for completing the Self-administered Tests and the formal Test Papers.

British Standards may be purchased from BSI. They can also be consulted at many libraries. See also the members area.

Books on indexing

Pat F. Booth, Indexing: the manual of good practice, K.G. Saur, 2001.

Noeline Bridge (ed.) Indexing Names, Information Today, Inc., 2012.
Glenda Browne, The indexing companion workbook: book indexing, Blaxland, NSW, Australia, 2009. Ordering details:

Glenda Browne and Jonathan Jermey, The indexing companion, Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Glenda Browne and Jonathan Jermey, Website indexing, 2nd edn, Auslib, 2004.

Nancy C. Mulvany, Indexing books, 2nd edn, University of Chicago Press, 2005.

Names of persons: national usages for entry in catalogues, 4th edn, K.G. Saur, 1996.

Sherry L. Smith and Kari Kells, Inside indexing: the decision-making process, Northwest Indexing Press, 2005.

Do Mi Stauber, Facing the text: content and structure in book indexing, Cedar Row Press, 2004.

H.W. Wellisch, Indexing from A to Z, 2nd edn, H.W. Wilson, 1996.

Enid L. Zafran and Joan Shapiro (ed.), Starting an indexing business, 4th edn, Information Today, Inc., 2009

The ‘Further reading’ section in each Course Unit lists many other titles, each of which has been chosen for its contribution to the study and practice of indexing. Look at as many of them as possible.


Other useful reference books

J. Butcher, C. Drake and M. Leach, Butcher’s copy-editing, 4th edn, Cambridge University Press, 2006.

Chicago manual of style, 15th edn, University of Chicago Press, 2005.

New Hart’s rules, Oxford University Press, 2005.


You should read as many different kinds of indexes, in print and online (computer-held) as you can find. For example:

  • Back-of-the-book indexes: different subjects (e.g. economics, biography, music, medicine, computers, art, engineering, cookery) and different forms (e.g. poetry, directories, theses)
  • Indexes to individual serials, e.g. newspapers, periodicals, yearbooks
  • Indexes to publications in a particular subject field, e.g. abstracting journals, citation indexes
  • Indexes to national bibliographies
  • Indexes to the output of a particular author or artist
  • Indexes to government publications
  • Indexes to collections of publications (e.g. library and media resource centre catalogues)

In each case, note features such as:

  • Introductory statements, notes to users
  • Number of sequences (personal names, subjects...)
  • Forms of index heading (single words, phrases, numbers; subheadings)
  • Kinds of locator (page, column, line, section, class)
  • Filing order (alphabetical, chronological, numerical...)
  • Layout (number of columns, spacing, positioning of subheadings)
  • Inclusion of cross-references (see and see also)
  • Method of compilation. This may be noted in the introductory statement, e.g. use of computer program; special technique, such as KWIC (KeyWord In Context)

Check the accuracy, adequacy and consistency of some of the entries by looking them up. Do they lead to something relevant and useful?

Read a few pages of the text, then check whether there are entries in the index under the headings you would expect.

Last updated: 16 June 2012 | Maintained by Webmaster | Page ID: 142
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