**Information on eBook indexing now included**
The Society of Indexers has run a distance learning course in indexing since 1988 and the current (4th) web-based online edition was launched in 2010. Many books are still being published in hardback needing traditional indexes, although the development of eBooks means that publishers are also evolving new methods for producing linked indexes. Whatever the format, analytical indexing skills are essential to identify concepts and to create entries which direct users effectively and efficiently to the most useful and appropriate content in a text. Full text searching is a poor substitute for this kind of access.
The Society of Indexers distance learning course provides a grounding in the basic principles of indexing needed to produce useful, well structured indexes. As ePublishing develops, the course is undergoing gradual revision to relate content to the impact of new technologies on indexing, and to give new indexers an understanding of the digital publishing environment they are entering. A revised and updated version of Module A was launched on 1 September 2014, with an expanded glossary and a new section focussing on the continuing importance of traditional indexing skills and the advantages of human analytical indexing over full text search and ‘automated indexing’.
Indexing offers the flexibility of working from home. For many it is part of a portfolio career encompassing other paid employment or freelance activities such as editorial work, or provides a means of income which fits round other commitments.
If you are looking for an interesting, satisfying and intellectually challenging job which can be combined with other interests and activities then indexing is a career worth exploring. If the idea of reading for a living appeals, you will be able to use and extend your own subject specialisms as well as developing new areas of knowledge. For those looking for a change of lifestyle, it’s an ideal job that can fit in with the need to organise your own schedules and can be carried out from any location with a suitable internet connection for client contact. A degree of entrepreneurial skill will, over time, enable you to build up a solid client-base, and for some this may provide the potential to develop a more full-time career in indexing.
To take this course you need to be highly proficient in the use of the English language. Indexing requires in-depth understanding of a text and involves detailed analysis of concepts, sometimes implicit and not specifically 'named', awareness of synonymous alternatives for terms and an appreciation of how conceptual ideas are linked to each other.
The Society is not able to offer assessment in other languages, so even if you intend to index in another language, you need to also show developing competence at indexing in English in order to pass.
As a guideline, a band score of 7-9 on the nine-band scale of the IELTS Academic English proficiency test would be appropriate with individual scores of 7.5-9 for the Reading and Writing components of the test.
Please note, this is just a guide - the Society does not require evidence that you have taken this test to start the course.
For further information see the IELTS Academic Test descriptions (especially the Academic Reading and Academic Writing aspects - click the appropriate heading for each test)
For more information on what it takes to be an indexer see A Career in Indexing
Visit the SI Publishing Technology Group website for an introduction to the world of digital publishing, plus more in-depth material about the newer technologies beginning to be used for index production. The glossary section defines and explains all the jargon and basic terms, and a background reading section brings together many recent articles on new developments. The website is updated regularly, and is a must for anyone starting out on a career in indexing.
Read more about full text search and the continuing need for indexes in the following articles:
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