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2013 Conference Reports

Conference photos here.


Plenary session: Friday 12 July

Indexing image collections

Conference opened on Friday 12 July with a fascinating session on cataloguing and indexing images.  Dr Nicholas Hiley has been Curator of the British Cartoon Archive since 1999, and the intriguing title of his talk ‘Pinocchio’s Legs and Aertex Underpants: Indexing British Political Cartoons’ set the tone for a very funny and educational hour.

The British Cartoon Archive was set up to preserve newspaper and magazine cartoons, and is celebrating its fortieth anniversary this year.  There are 150 000 original drawings in the collection (which contains the work of 350 cartoonists since the dawn of the twentieth century), and part of its recent work had been the creation of an online catalogue of160 000 British political cartoons  It holds the Carl Giles collection, amounting to six or seven thousand drawings and other visual material, which arrived in 2005. 

Dr Hiley posed some intriguing questions about what to catalogue, and how – for example, a cartoonist may produce six to nine rough sketches a day on differing topics, only one or two of which will be worked up for publication, but the roughs must still be catalogued (the archive catalogues them by the publication date that the unpublished ones were sketched for).  Then there is the issue of cataloguing someone who is not actually present in the cartoon; Martin Rowson, for example, started off drawing Nick Clegg as Pinocchio, but then gradually dismantled him, so that in subsequent cartoons there might be just his arms and a leg, or a fan made out of his limbs, or even a pile of sawdust. Does one still catalogue those as representations of Clegg?  There was a similar issue with Steve Bell’s drawings of John Major with his underpants outside his trousers, eventually representing him as just a pair of aertex underpants in glasses.

Dr Hiley finished with an exhilarating romp through the DPP’s collection of prosecuted cartoon seaside postcards, 1951-1962, which are also in the Archive’s possession and have been digitised.

The second half of the session was ‘Indexing the Scottish Screen Archive’s Collection’, by Eilidh MacGlone of the Scottish Screen Archive.  This is a film and video collection of more than 100 years of Scottish history, including paper records, television broadcasts, amateur and industrial film.  It was set up in 1976 and contains more than 32 000 films and videos.  Ms MacGlone discussed the opportunities presented by recent developments such as the open data movement to make the collections more available to the public via the European Film Gateway.  She showed conference a charming film called ‘The Singing Street’, of children singing, playing, dancing and skipping in the streets, and discussed the issues around exhaustive indexing of films and the use of the Virtual International Authority File (VIAF) and WorldCat to make the collection more widely accessible.

All in all, a very entertaining opening session, which left delegates with plenty to think and smile about: an excellent way to start the weekend. 

Write-up: Shona Campbell


In-conference workshops: Saturday 13 July

Finding the Words: how to write index entries  - Ann Hudson

Ann Hudson was unfortunately not able to lead this workshop on how to write index entries, but Jan Worrall nobly stepped into her shoes and led a useful session which combined discussion with practical exercises.

Topics covered included specificity, when to use singulars and plurals, use of adjectives and gerunds in headings, and how much the indexer should follow the language of the text.  

We also discussed the tricky question of inversion, when it is necessary, and when inappropriate (particularly in business names such “Eddie Stobart”);  this also included the problem of what to do with the definite article, particularly as indexing software can correctly sort headings such as “The Times” without having to invert it.  

As always, there were a variety of views on this, showing just how much indexing decisions come down to individual style and taste.  

Our final exercise was on modifiers and qualifiers, the difference between them and when they are necessary.  

The overall message of the workshop was, as always, “it depends”;  a good reminder of how hard our brains are working at making decisions even when indexing a relatively straightforward text.

Write-up: Marion Aird

Social Media For Indexers  Ruth Ellis

Few people trying to maintain or develop a business can afford to remain uninformed about social networking. Ruth Ellis’s workshop was therefore a very timely analysis of both the opportunities and the potential hazards presented by social media.

A key message was the importance of taking control and of making informed decisions about whether and how to use internet media in support of business and professional objectives. Ruth first emphasised the significance of Google® search rankings, pointing out that some degree of active engagement with web media was desirable to avoid professional invisibility, or (worse) the possibility of unfavourable comment appearing in search results. She then went on to discuss and evaluate in detail the different ways of achieving and making best use of an internet presence, in particular: setting up a website, LinkedIn®, Facebook®, Twitter®, creating and running a blog. The professional forum, LinkedIn®, has emerged recently as especially significant, partly on account of the ranking afforded it by Google®. It can be very useful for identifying named individuals in organisations. The imaginative use of Twitter® to glean information of this type was also covered in detail. 

Engagement in social media is not risk-free, and the presentation included attention to web etiquette and caveats about disseminating material that was too personal, or that might be considered inappropriate. Ruth advised on the effective use of time and showed how tools such as HootSuite® could be used to minimise the time and effort spent in interactions on multiple social media. 

In summary, this was an excellent workshop – well-researched, informative, targeted and clear. I for one felt much clearer about what social media could deliver and how I might take selective advantage of them.

Write-up: Nick Walton

Another String To Your Bow - An Introduction To Copy-Editing And Proofreading - Michèle Clarke

What can I say?  Michèle’s presentation was perfectly paced and pitch-perfect.

We were reminded of the many aspects of copy-editing that bear a striking resemblance to the indexing process: subject interest/knowledge, good relationship with editor/author, willingness to adapt to new technology, and being able to meet deadlines, among them.  The most critical “must-have” for any aspiring copy-editor is a thorough understanding of grammar and excellent spelling ability.  I realized that as an indexer I have the luxury of being somewhat imprecise with the former, but never the latter.

Michèle described the copy-editor’s role (again much of this already part of an indexer’s repertoire), the overall approach to the copy-editing process, documentation styles, the coding of heading levels and “thin” spaces, and handling of illustrations and lists (numbered and bulleted).  So far, so good.  

And then we were back to grammar.  The pitfalls are legion: “it’s difficult knowing what you don’t know” became Michèle’s mantra, providing us with examples of common errors.  I did well on the practical exercises that we completed in the workshop and, bouyed by my success, I accessed the SfEP website to take the on-screen self-test (  It is billed as a “multiple-choice proofreading test” and I was confident I would spot the spelling errors and the other mistakes (missing/repeated text, widows and orphans, lack of proximity of artwork and tables to referring text) that Michèle had outlined as the primary focus of a proofreader’s work.  I spot these kinds of errors fairly frequently, probably due to the fact that the proof is often sent to proofreader and indexer simultaneously, causing havoc with text reflow!

I gave up after the first paragraph, as I appear to be severely lacking in my residual knowledge of the arcana of British royal marriages. The test certainly proved Michèle’s point about subject matter expertise (and first requirement) for accepting any copy-editing/proofreading project.   However, the test did provide great feedback (as far as I went), encouraged me to look beyond the obvious, and made me realize that I could query the author for a final decision.

Michèle briefly covered the impact of copy-editing and proofreading on the indexing process, and the copy-editing vs. proofreading expectations of publishers.  I would have welcomed more time to explore these two tangential but important topics.

Now that I better understand what is involved in copy-editing and proofreading I am persuaded that I might only want to add half a string to my bow, i.e. copy-editing definitely not, proofreading perhaps. I have, however, gained infinite respect for the miracles copy-editors and proofreaders perform before I am let loose to prepare the index.  You make my job so much more pleasant. Thank you.

Now, who is going to copy-edit and proofread this?

Write-up: Frances Lennie

Personal Names Christopher  Phipps

It is rare to work on a text that does not include personal names; as the frequency of queries on SIdeline testifies, this is a crucial area of knowledge for any indexer.  This expertly delivered practical workshop by Christopher Phipps gave us a whistle-stop tour of the variety of forms, complexities and decisions that have to be made when including personal names in our indexes.

From the outset we were guided through how to approach the variety of names that any indexer may come across on a day-to-day basis; from one-word nicknames through to complex honorifics and titles.  Two themes emerged:  the need for checking, and double-checking, to ensure that errors are not introduced and the importance of keeping in mind the reader - anticipating where they will look (even if this means ‘breaking’ the rules), how much information to include and the use of cross-references and double-posting.

The second half of the workshop saw us trying to put all of this into practise as we worked through a sheet of deceptively tricky examples.  As with any group of indexers much debate ensued with the conclusion that often there is no ‘correct’ answer, sometimes a definite ‘wrong’ form ( da Vinci, Leonardo anyone?) and, as ever, it often depends upon the text.

 Write-up: Amanda Speake

Parallel sessions: Saturday 13 July

Student Peer Review  Jan Worrall

The session took place on a Saturday afternoon with nine students in total and was led by Jan Worrall. Everyone was at a different place on the course, ranging from Module A through to Module D. About three weeks prior to the session, we had each been sent a copy of a text on thunderstorms to index. A couple of days before we had had a chance to look at the indexes prepared by the other students and one done by the tutor.

Firstly, Jan kicked off by asking who we thought this text would be aimed at. This proved quite difficult to answer as the tone and level of the text varied from general advice about what to do in a thunderstorm through to the more technical scientific aspects.  This highlighted an important starting point when beginning on a new index about identifying who your user is likely to be.  This should in turn affect what sort of headings you include in your index.

Jan then asked how we had come to a decision regarding the numerous place names that had been mentioned in the text. We had all decided to do something different, with some of us including all the names, some just major mentions and some, none at all.  This reminded us that indexing is very subjective and perhaps more of an art than a science.  Jan commented that we should remember not to include passing mentions and also to not include headings where there is no useful information to be found in the text.

We also discussed the treatment of the many illustrations, tables and maps in the text.  Again we had all done something slightly different, however as long as the illustrations are highlighted in some way, either by italics, bold, letters etc allowing the user the ability to find them easily, then that would be sufficient in a relatively short piece of text such as this.

Whether to have a heading for the metatopic of the text was also discussed.  Jan reminded us about not reproducing the text under one heading, however, there are instances when a metatopic heading can be useful, such as in biographies or where the metatopic is defined or discussed generally in a particular section of the text.

The hour that we had for the session went very quickly and there was probably lots more that we could have covered if we had had more time.  We finished off with talking about how different people index and the different methods people employ when faced with the text for the first time.  Some of us preferred to read through quickly to get a general feel before starting to compile entries, whilst others jumped straight in.  As before it was clear that everyone works differently and will develop a style over time which suits them best.

I thoroughly enjoyed the session and felt that I got a lot from it. My only negative being that the session really needs the two hours that are allotted to some of the other workshops.  It was great to meet other students and realise that you are not alone in the various dilemmas that crop up throughout the course.  I would heartily recommend for students to attend such sessions as and when they can, at conference or as part of their local group.

Write-up  : Michelle Davies

Law for Freelancers - Jonathan Westwood

I attended Law for Freelancers, presented by Jonathan Westwood, in the hope that it would cure my fear of freelance-related legal matters. Thankfully this turned out to be the case.  In the event, his advice seemed eminently sensible, entertaining and happily free from legalese.

Firstly we learnt why Jonathan was worth listening to  (in the shape of an impressive resume) and why we shouldn’t take his advice as gospel  (if you only pay a lawyer (or speaker) with gratitude, you may get the advice that you pay for, also one man cannot cover every speciality/eventuality).  

An email enquiry to attendees prior to the conference revealed  specific concerns about non-payment of invoices by clients and so formulating contracts and the use of Small Claims Court was covered at length.  Jonathan discussed the various processes involved in making a small claim and also the difficulties of non-payment by clients outside the UK.  Other topics included: the pros and cons of different trading entities, legal requirements for websites and data protection vs the necessity for keeping tax records.  

We went away with notes and extra resources to consult later and, for me, a better sense of being business-minded as a freelance indexer.

Write-up: Jody Ineson

Abstracting and Indexing bibliographic databases - Rebecca Ursell

Rebecca Ursell talked to a small group of Indexers about her work with ProQuest’s databases of journals for the academic library market. She began by talking about controlled vocabulary, including thesaurus structure and authority lists, and some of the problems involved, for example changing terms and internationalization.

She then moved on to indexing policy and the need for consistency, user-focused indexing, indexing at the most specific level, and indexing a document as a whole. She took us through the steps of indexing, and then discussed the pros and cons of human indexing versus auto-indexing. These included the use of freelancers and outsourcing, the fact that auto-indexing forces the management of vocabulary, and the difficulty in getting user-focus from auto-indexing. She finished by talking about some of the threats and possibilities of the future, and the importance of using humans to add real value to indexing. 

Her talk and slides were very interesting to all the delegates attending. This was shown by the number of questions asked at the end of the session. These included questions about the need for freelance indexers, whether authors are advised on how to choose keywords, how much time pressure there is, and who writes the abstracts. 

Write-up: Samantha Clark

History of Cambridge University Press and its archives - Rosalind Grooms

Ros Grooms attracted the history lovers amongst us to her fascinating talk on the history of the Cambridge University Press and the development of the Museum.

CUP has a depth of history and is the world’s oldest publishing house, stretching back from 1534 when King Henry VIII granted Cambridge University the right to print ‘all manner of books’. Indeed, the Letters Patent granting this right is one of the artefacts in the Museum.

It was all happening in the 16th century. In 1583, Thomas Thomas became the University’s first printer and the following year the concept of continuous printing materialised thus forging the Press’s reputation for quality of printing. Other items of early history include ‘Statute J’ where the University’s objective of advancing learning, knowledge and research worldwide is laid out, and a letter confirming that the Press could claim charitable status. It remains today a not-for-profit organisation. 

Facsimiles have been created of many of the original documents, and displayed. There is, for example a facsimile of John Milton’s work and signature from 1638.

The Museum contains maps, plans, inventories, accounting records, author files, and reader reports in author files, including those of CP Snow, Bertrand Russell and Lord Kelvin. 

An interesting letter from FJ Furnivall proposes a dictionary that would transcend all other dictionaries; the proposal was declined in 1877 and Furnivall took his idea to Oxford where it was accepted and has become the renowned Oxford English Dictionary. Another letter from Enid Blyton expresses a wish to be published by the Press – she was declined; TS Eliot, however, turned down his invitation to be published. 

The CUP has undergone several house moves in its long history – the Pitt Building, Bentley House on Euston Road, the Edinburgh Building that the Queen visited in 1981 and larger premises from 1984.

In the area of the Museum relating to Bible Publishing there are displayed the Baskerville punches used for Baskerville type, a very small flip-back Transetto Bible, best read in an upright position, the Queen’s Order of Service for her Mass in 1953 and one single book that symbolises the essence of the Press – this used to be the 1763 Holy Bible but to take turns (and ensure preservation), they now have Buck and Daniel’s 1638 Bible.

The Museum aims to capture the lives that brought drama and voice to the Press and, to this end, it displays old printing artefacts; a payment slip for overtime from 1699; a tiny obituary from 1796 of an eccentric warehouseman, ‘a singular character’ who foretold his own death; programmes for the Wayzgoose staff event; photographs of social gatherings, and an instruction from the Ministry of Production in 1940 informing the Press how to prepare for invasion. Staff were told to ‘keep production going everywhere up to the last possible moment’ and not to destroy any works or parts but to keep them out of reach and prevent them falling into the enemy’s hands. There is currently an oral history project being undertaken where oral history transcripts are being ‘indexed’ using time markers.

The Museum’s ethos is to provide entertaining, informational, economic visits for visitors. It is situated right in the heart of the Printing House, and visits are by appointment. 

Write-up: Linda Haylock

ePubs and the future of indexes - David Ream


Sketch of David Ream during his presentation (done by Shirley May)


The EPUB3 standard is being worked upon by a consortium of around 400 bodies. Unlike EPUB2 it is being designed with non-fiction ebooks in mind. However, although Kindle Fire can handle EPUB3 readers, the ordinary Kindle is not EPUB3-compatible (it cannot handle tables, figures etc). The DTTF (Digital Trends Task Force), set up by ASI, advocates for indexes in ebooks and believes that agreeing a standard is the best first step.

The reading system must be able to identify an index as such and the index should be integrated with the content.

The indexing specification is currently being edited in light of comments received. EPUB3 does not refer to the content of an index, only to how the tagging should work. CFIs (canonical fragment identifiers) will be used as locators.

After approval of EPUB3, it is envisaged that an epubcheck tool will become available, allowing an indexing module to be implemented. Tools for producing ebook indexes could then be written for existing indexing programs. In terms of workflow, assuming digital versions are published first, the indexer would prepare a (longer) index for the ebook and then pare it down to fit into a printed book.

New functionalities would allow for better navigation.

  • Access to groups of index terms (e.g. all headings beginning with a certain letter)

  • Allow expansion or collapse of an entry (i.e. show all subheadings/do not show subheadings)

  • Parent term display

  • Contextual information displayed when hovering over a locator

  • Highlighting the range of text covered by a locator

  • Lists of categories of terms

  • Filtering (e.g. show only one category of term)

  • Reverse indexing (finding which index entries cover a certain portion of text, allowing users to find other entries on the same subject).

 Write-up : Catherine Topliff

Plenary sessions: Saturday 13 July

Publishing Technology Group

Bill Johncocks began by giving a presentation on ePub 3, slides of which were included on the data stick in the delegate pack. In a nutshell, things are not moving as fast as expected, and, without a clear view of where the new technology is going, it has not been possible to update the training course to take account of developments so far. He explained his decision to leave the group - their original remit to produce a website that would be of use to all has now been fulfilled.

There then followed a question and answer session: on the future of the PTG website, the use of InDesign and XML, behind-the scenes international co-operation on e-publications, embedded indexing, possible groups that individual indexers should be targeting (librarians and publishing/library course providers as well as publishers themselves) and the problems of setting up an indexing wiki.  

Write-up: Rosie Dear

Adding value: the role of the publisher - Masoud Yazdani

Masoud Yazdani, Chairman of Intellect Ltd, an independent academic publisher in the fields of creative practice and popular culture, presented a paper in which he defended the role of the scholarly publisher against self publishing by scholars. He identified three ways in which the scholarly publisher adds value: advocacy, dissemination and preservation. In its advocacy role the publisher promotes a particular topic and gives credibility to the author. It provides editorial engagement and mediation in the refereeing process. It can disseminate the work to a wider public over a variety of media, and ensures permanance of the record.

However, the context is changing. There is more to publish and less time to read, and an expectation for some media at least that end use will be free. The technology is changing. There have been moves to open access and institutional repositories. Costs have shifted from the reader to the author.  

But Masoud was optimistic for the future. Academics need to publish and he now thought of authors as his customers. For small volumes digital publishing costs are low in relation to editorial costs and that would be the saving grace of the small, scholarly publisher.

Write-up: Chris Dance

Credit goes to Shirley May for the following sketch of the start of this session .


Scholarly publishers have a three-fold role: advocacy (seeking material for their lists), dissemination (to a wide audience) and the preservation of material in different formats. Self-publishing, although cheaper for the author, does not guarantee the quality of traditional publishing.

The significance of recent technological developments was summarised. As well as the advent of the web, these include Google searching and digital printing which allows more economical print runs. Around half of his publishing company’s output is disseminated via journal aggregators such as EBSCO, providing access to electronic journals from a range of publishers. 

New developments include apps which can change the content you see depending on your location or your user profile.

Academics publish for a range of career purposes such as reproduction of experiments, teaching purposes, funding applications, sharing of ideas, to obtain recognition of effort and to achieve closure at the end of a research project.

The referee system and use of peer review validates the quality of traditional publishers’ output, while copy editing ensures clarity of expression. Input from design and layout specialists improves the visual impact of a manuscript. Publishers guarantee visibility via professional marketing strategies, including the use of metadata/keywords to make sure the material is discoverable and there is permanent availability via publishers’ back lists. Publishers also take care of rights and licensing issues, and physical distribution and sales. On the technical side they have the know-how to allow material to be presented in multiple formats. 

For the future Yazdani sees increasing types of media formats, downward pressure on prices and smaller print runs. Some US university press closures are expected. E-books will continue to tie up resources and time, despite being only a small percentage of the market.

Write-up: Rohan Bolton

Publishing Panel

The Publishing Panel discussion included Alison Evans of Out of House Publishing, which provides production and project management services to academic, reference and educational companies, Joanna Silman, editor at MA Education, formerly with Hodder Education, John Sutherland, author, SI President and professor at University College London, and Masoud Yazdani of Intellect.

All supportive of good indexing, the publishers said they tended to select from a pool of indexers that they can trust. Alison tended to use indexers who offer a variety of subjects (contrast with the preference for presenting yourself as a specialist given in the marketing sessions). Joanna mentioned the importance of knowledge and reputation, and the preference for people who are easy to work with and who ‘know our systems’. She would tend to steer away from authors’ suggestions.

John Sutherland, whose first book was published in 1973 said that the difference now is the pressure on time and the locus of academic scholarship moving to the conference. His most recent book was indexed by an unpaid intern, for reasons of turn-round as much as cost. He said that academics’ research assessment is driving much academic publishing and leading to overproduction and pressure on costs. Indexers need to give more attention to speed of indexing.

Although closer involvement of indexers in the move to digital formats was felt to be needed the Panel did not come up with much to suggest how this might be achieved, and the question led to a discussion which touched on the issues of XML and work flow, preferences for page or more specific locators, the cost of moving to a new standard, and uncertainty of the speed of transition to digital media particularly for the humanities. Reference was also made to the value of combining indexing with quality control to make the process more cost effective, and (it would seem as a distraction) to using indexers’ skills to create taxonomies to facilitate the use of keyword indexes. John Sutherland remarked that an article that is not physical would not weigh so heavily in your career.

On outsourcing to the ‘new’ publishing countries, Masoud said that his company could not exist without them. The publishers’ view was that rapid turn-round and ability to easily scale up or down were as important factors as cost.

Alison referred to the alarming misunderstanding of what indexing is that can be found amongst publishers and authors, which had led to some unsatisfactory index conversions in legacy publications.

In concluding, there was a call for a wider variety of publishers, for more suppliers on the production side, and for smaller, more nimble players. And John Sutherland wanted to see more committed publishers (like Intellect) driven by idealism rather than commercialism. 

Write-up: Chris Dance

Parallel sessions: Sunday 14 July

Back care for the home worker - Helen Bardell

This was an excellent and active workshop that I can thoroughly recommend to anyone who spends hours sat in front of a computer. 

Helen first of all explained her background and work in PE and physical therapy.

It is essential that the computer work station must be adjusted to fit the needs of the person using it. The monitor should be at eye level and any documents mounted at head level. It is important that the work space should be a pleasant place to spend time in. The chair should be adjustable so that it can be at the right height and the use of a footstool is preferable.

It is important not to sit with crossed legs and do not twist and reach out for books or other items. Get up from your seat and fetch them, otherwise the back or shoulders could be strained or injured.

Look away from the computer screen after 25 minutes and avoid neck strain. It is important to get up and have regular breaks, make a coffee and walk around for 10 minutes.

Exercise is extremely important. Try for 25 minutes of aerobic exercise at least 3 times a week. Exercise with other people to make it a more sociable time.

Be aware of your posture and check it regularly. Stand up and take the abdominal muscles in, but remember to breathe!!

Helen gave all participants some hand outs with details of helpful exercises. She demonstrated some of these and then helped us while we practiced them ourselves.

The workshop was very helpful and provoked lot of thought. Since coming home I have looked critically at my working space, chair and my regime and made some beneficial adjustments!


Write-up: Angela Hall

A book by its cover - Pamela Birch

This workshop on the history and conservation of books was led by Pamela Birch, a conservator at Bedfordshire and Luton Archives.

We were shown examples of books of different formats ranging from the Middle Ages to the present day, including roll books, a book finely-bound in tooled leather, and an early ledger. The format of the roll book would make it difficult to index.

Pamela explained how books are put together, either by gluing or sewing sections and attaching them to boards. Both of these methods have advantages and disadvantages, as glue can disintegrate and thread can tear pages.

Books can suffer damage to their spines if crowded on shelves, which makes it difficult to remove them. Large books should be stored horizontally if possible in order to avoid wear and tear.

Unsurprisingly, books can be adversely affected by the environmental conditions in which they are stored. Direct sunlight can cause covers to fade, particularly green and purple ones. Books stored in attics and cellars can suffer from infestation by insects, including furniture beetle larvae and silverfish. Snails and birds can also cause damage.

Keeping books free of dust is another common problem. One solution, favoured by the National Trust, is to drape a piece of light cloth across the tops of adjacent books, which can be removed and shaken. The Trust also protects books by placing them inside “book shoes”.

Leather bookmarks kept inside books can cause dirt and insects to get inside. Paperclips and staples should be removed from pamphlets as they can become rusty and mark pages as well as attracting dust.

Pages should never be repaired with Sellotape, but a little wallpaper paste may be used for small repairs. Post-it notes leave a sticky residue which attracts dust.

New books should never be forced open, but gradually opened from side to side, a little at a time, until the middle is reached. Curtain weights can be draped across the corners to keep them open.

This was a fascinating glimpse into the world of the book conservator, which was also relevant for those of us who want to keep our own collections in good repair.

Write-up: Sue Tricklebank 

Legal tabling - Moira Greenhalgh

In her hour's talk, Moira gave a most entertaining and informative description of what the work of a Legal Tabler involves.

She started off by discussing her reasons for enjoyment of the work, including the mathematical precision of it, in contrast to indexing.  If a case or statute is mentioned in a legal text, it has to be included – there is no room for doubt. Exceptions are when Cases are mentioned in an adjectival sense only, such as Gillick competence.

In order, the discussion included UK cases, primary and secondary legislation, followed by European cases, primary and secondary legislation. A list of very useful online sources for both UK and EU content was also given to refer to.  

Regarding the UK cases, we were given examples of legal abbreviations, with useful explanations, as well as four pages of legal text, in ascending level of difficulty, with regard to finding the relevant cases and legislation to cite. We were given several lists of unsorted example lists and instructed as to the correct way to sort them, using our own indexing software such as Macrex, Cindex or Sky. This often involves the use of hidden or ignored text to force text into the correct order.  Sorting preferences can vary according to publishers’ house style, with some preferring alphabetical and others more chronological methods of sorting. Consistency of approach is the key here. We were also shown correct sorting order where there are multiple court references to a single case.

We were then shown examples of UK primary legislation, such as Acts of Parliament, and secondary legislation, such as Orders or Regulations and the components of the types of entries and how they might be presented. Examples were given of how very old Acts might appear. Again, we were shown the different methods of presentation and the correct ways of sorting the entries using our software, with consistency being most important. Mention was made of the most important Rules, such as the Civil Procedure Rules, and the importance of being aware of them.

The remainder of the session was devoted to examining EU cases and legislation.  We were introduced to the main Courts and Cases (such as Cassis de Dijon) along with their less familiar alternative names. We looked at Directives, Regulations and Decisions and given plenty of examples. We were given an idea of the main Treaties since 1958, along with their effect on the renumbering of Articles and possible renaming (eg. EEC Treaty becoming the EC Treaty in 1993). 

Although I am reasonably familiar with Legal Tabling, I certainly learnt a lot from Moira’s talk, which was very well-presented, with numerous examples of good practice.  

Write-up: Avril Ehrlich

Marketing for Indexers and CVs - Alan Rutter and Christine Smith 

The popularity of Alan and Christine’s workshop reflected the huge importance of marketing to indexers as freelance professionals.

Alan outlined marketing techniques which have helped him build a successful business. His personable and sometimes quirky approach has ensured that he is rarely forgotten by publishers he has worked for. He also revealed some useful tips for tracking editors as they move between jobs, and reminding publishers of his presence between jobs.

Christine’s presentation on CVs was relevant and refreshing. A lot has changed in the world of CVs since I was in the sixth form, and I will be updating mine in the light of this workshop. We learnt about how to adapt a CV for various stages in an indexer’s career.

The take home message for me was how beneficial it can be to work at building and maintaining relationships with your contacts in the publishing industry. 

This workshop was enjoyable, informative and accessible. It has given me the focus  and confidence to plan a new marketing campaign. I would recommend it to anyone who has an interest in promoting or building their business, especially new indexers.

Write-up: Lucy Leicester 

Plenary sessions: Sunday 14 July

International Reports

Maureen MacGlashan introduced this session which was centred around the theme of  how indexing societies are approaching training in the changing publishing environment.

Mary Russell (ICRIS Co-ordinator)

Mary outlined the purpose of ICRIS (International Committee of Representatives of Indexing Societies) which is to implement the International Agreement and provide a formal structure for pooling resources of the various indexing societies. This includes reciprocal arrangements for members' rates such as for conferences or buying publications. ICRIS is also involved in the publication of The Indexer.

Last year saw the creation of an ICRIS web page, hosted by The Indexer website, which lists participating societies, provides background information, minutes of meetings and links to other websites.


Maureen MacGlashan read a report from the Association of Southern African Indexers and Bibliographers as there was no representative present at the Conference.

The revamped website has gone live and a member of ASAIB has been recruited to take over as Reviews Editor for South Africa in The Indexer. A very successful conference was held in May with high quality papers presented. The next conference will be entitled Twenty Years of Excellence. The professional directory has been developed to enable members to maintain their own entries.

Training is currently carried out through workshops.


ISC/SCI (Indexing Society of Canada / Société canadienne d’indexation)

Maureen MacGlashan read a report from the Canadian society.

A new Executive has been elected and Mary Newberry continues as President. A full constitutional review is proposed. Next year's conference will be held in Toronto in association with the conference of the Editors' Association  of Canada.


NIN (Nederlands Indexers Netwerk/Netherlands Indexing Network)

Maureen MacGlashan read a report from the Netherlands.

Membership is increasing and now stands at 13. It has been arranged that Pilar Wyman will give a presentation on Indexes for E-books. Also a six-monthly newsletter has been established.

Maureen reported that the CSI (China Society of Indexers) will be holding their next conference in Shanghai on 1st-2nd November.

Mary Russell (ANZSI)

Wearing her other hat as representative of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Indexers, Mary Russell reported on recent developments in training. The basic 2 day introductory course is now supplemented by peer review sessions. Participants are given an 120 page text with three weeks to complete an index. Assessments are provided but not pass or fail grades.

The ANZSI journal has been published for 40 years and required an index. This was produced over the Christmas period when publishing in Australia shuts down for an extended holiday. It was a team effort with guidelines for style to facilitate merging different formats. There was a good response to the appeal for participants, some of whom asked for a peer review of their work.

The next conference will be held in Canberra 6th-9th May 2015.

Dave Ream (ASI)

Dave Ream reported on the development of webinars for training purposes in the US, e.g. on E-pubs, and also directed at publishers.

ASI (American Society for Indexing) is currently changing management companies.

The next conference will be held in Charleston April 30th - 3rd May 2014.

Publications - 'Indexing names' by Noeline Bridge was published recently; a range of publications are available and are in the process of being turned into E-books.

Newsletter - Keywords is now issued monthly in digital form with an occasional print version.

Jan Worrall (SI)

Jan has taken on responsibility for the SI Training Course and outlined current developments. The 4th edition of the course was implemented three years ago using a web-based platform. The current task is to include developments in the evolution of e-books which will impact on indexing practice, such as the range and form of entries. The preliminary revision process has begun, to incorporate technological developments and the broader issues they raise.

Write-up: Judith Menes

Marketing in the digital age - Robin Croft

Robin has had a career in industry, 20 years in higher education, and has spent 4 years writing articles about social media marketing.

Robin began by listing the various social media operating at present, which include Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, YouTube, LinkedIn, Tumbler, Scribd, and Wikipedia to name the most significant ones.

In each case he described their content and function.

He then described the difference between 'concentric' and 'ad hoc' networks. The former being friends and family, and the latter being colleagues, contacts, soul mates, passing strangers and any contacts concerned with building knowledge.

He mentioned four tech companies, Intel, SAP, Oracle and Cisco, who all use social media marketing.

The old paradigm of marketing where the audience is passive and merely there to be marketed to using advertising, sales promotion, direct marketing and public relations exercises, is now superseded by a new type of active audience, where search, trust and customer engagement are important for sales to be achieved.

He spoke of 'thought leadership', where a presence and activity on social media creates a following who spread the word and create a demand.

The presence/activity may include blogs, pictures, moving images, audio, presentations etc, and also the editing of Wikipedia in areas of individual expertise.

Etiquette on social media, he said, involves being careful not to sell, shout, lie, make excessive claims, overwhelm people, or demand personal details. Good use of social media such as LinkIn (a particularly business-oriented medium) would involve adding comments about things you are doing, joining specialist groups, starting debates, and making yourself look interesting to others who may require your services.

Robin also suggested that it is a good idea to cross-link everything between Twitter, FaceBook etc. to create a comprehensive presence.

A question at the end of the session concerned the likelihood of making business connections in this way, and how much time would need to be spent cultivating the social media. This was being looked into currently by a PhD student at the Business School, but as yet a sensible estimate of the time needed to make it worthwhile was not known.

This was a well-attended informative session, especially for newer indexers looking to establish themselves, and build up business contacts.

Robin Croft's slides can be found here

 Write-up: Shirley May

Sketch by Shirley May


Letter from Bletchley Park

Last updated: 15 August 2013 | Maintained by Webmaster | Page ID: 563
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