The Society of Indexers

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Award Winning Indexes

We know that simply being published is no indication that an index is actually good and worthy of emulation, so it is helpful to be able to see indexes which are recognized as being noteworthy. Below are links to indexes, viewable through Amazon Look Inside, which have received awards. 

Wheatley Medal


2008 Barbara Hird
Index to Roger Ellis (ed.), The Oxford History of Literary Translation in English, OUP, 2008.
1999 Barbara Hird
Index to Cambridge History of English Medieval Literature. Cambridge University Press

H. W. Wilson Award

This is awarded by the American Society of Indexers. For details of the judgement criteria, see H. W. Wilson Award

2009 Jan Wright, for her index to Real World Adobe InDesign CS3, by Olav Martin Kvern and David Blatner. The book was published by Peachpit Press in 2008. It is the first time a technical manual has won the award!
The Wilson Award Committee was impressed by the detailed level of granularity at which the index was written. Every conceivable utility, button, dialog box and menu item was covered in the index. In addition to the granularity, the coverage of the index was exhaustive. There did not appear to be a single concept in the text that was not appropriately covered in the index. Also, as is so important in a technical manual's index, not only were software features indexed, but actions were as well. That allows users to find information on how to use features not just descriptions of them. Index entries were appropriately double- or even triple-posted, ensuring multiple access points to information. The index was written in a concise, direct style, resulting in an index with a scientific elegance. Generally short lines, along with a layout that used lots of white space made for easy reading, even at the relatively small font size. Finally, the authors' use of humor was consistently represented in the index, which is not always an easy thing to carry off.

2007 Do Mi Stauber for her index to The Self-Possessed: Deity and Spirit Possession in South Asian Literature and Civilization, by Frederick M. Smith, published by Columbia University Press in 2006. Based on years of intensive research, Frederick Smith analyzes Indic literature from all time periods and over a hundred ethnographies, identifying several forms of possession. Kay Banning, speaking for the 2007 Wilson Award Committee, commented that Do Mi Stauber’s index to Frederick Smith’s complex work has a strong conceptual base, with well-developed headings and a solid network of cross references. The thoughtfully phrased subheadings have a narrative flow, appropriate for the run-in style of the index.

2006 Charlee Trantino for her index to A Skeleton Key to Finnegans Wake: Unlocking James Joyce’s Masterwork, by Joseph Campbell and Henry Morton Robinson, published as a new edition by the New World Library. When the stream-of-consciousness style Finnegans Wake was published in 1939, critics called it "unintelligible." Others such as Joseph Campbell wanted to figure it out. Working with the poet Henry Morton Robinson, A Skeleton Key was the first guide to Joyce's masterwork. It solved many of the puzzles Joyce presents, but earlier editions had no index. The elegance of the index, its appropriateness for the work and for its scholarly audience is what makes it an exemplar.

2002 Margie Towery for her cumulative index to The Letters of Matthew Arnold, a six-volume collection of letters of the well-known nineteenth-century British poet and critic, published by the University Press of Virginia. Ms. Towery's index appears in volume 6 of the series. The committee was impressed by the thoroughness of the index and its consequent usefulness to the scholars who are its primary audience. Towery's painstaking approach can be seen in the very precise page ranges given for each letter and the lists of "mentioneds," the concise but elegant distinctions made between people with the same name, and the brief but clear analysis of the entries. The relevance and parallelism of the subheadings and the grammatical relationship between the subheads and the main headings are also outstanding. "The language," as committee member Laura Gottlieb put it, "is lovely." All in all, the committee felt that this index not only provides excellent access to Matthew Arnold's letters, but stands as a shining example for anyone undertaking a similar project in the future. An electronic version of the complete index, hyperlinked to the digitized text, can be viewed at

2000 Nedalina Dineva for the index to Concepts of Mass in Contemporary Physics and Philosophy by Max Jammer. Published by Princeton University Press. The winning index is described as "an elegant index to a complex subject" by Dr. Bella Hass Weinberg, a member of the judging committee.

1995 Martin L. White for the index to The Promise of Pragmatism by John Patrick Diggins. Published by University of Chicago Press

1994 Patricia Deminna for Carnal Israel: Reading Sex in Talmudic Culture by Daniel Boyarin. Published by University of California Press


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