Scott Smiley's
Ideas in Place

The Back-of-the-Book Index,

where every idea finds its place



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I'm sure it has happened to you, as it has to me: the frustration of a fruitless journey to the back of a book where a poorly prepared index lets you down.

It doesn't seem like too much to ask--one simple thing that you KNOW must be in this book somewhere, but it's not listed in the index. Well, maybe you can find it under something else . . . but no, it's not there either. When this happens, the index is not doing its job.

Here's another one: you want to find the effects of hair-pulling on baldness. The term is indeed in the index, but it's followed by a long list of page numbers:

hair-pulling, 17, 24-25, 43, 45, 62, 81, 97, 223-38, 250

The prospect of trudging through all of that to find what you're looking for is apt to lead to some hair-pulling of your own!

These all-too common scenarios demonstrate both the importance of an index and the need for good ones. We want to be able to find what we need in a book, quickly and easily, and move on.

Enter the professional indexer to save the day! We make it our concern to create indexes that serve as efficient guides to the text at hand, organized and worded to meet the needs of the reader. A good index is much more than a mere list of key words and the pages on which they can be found. It is a systematic structure containing all relevant concepts of the book, a result of careful analysis and synthesis on the part of the indexer.

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© 2003 Scott P. Smiley