What Indexers Do

Indexers add value to written content. They do so by creating a concise, cohesive, and well-interconnected map to any given text. A good index locates all the places throughout the text that address specific interests and concerns, and organizes and cross-references the theme and message of the author’s intentions according to topics, individuals, and relationships. It also respects the conventions and press specifications of the publisher.

Indexers do the creative and intellectual work of selecting entries and then use designated indexing software to alphabetize, merge, and paginate the final index, according to professional indexer Sylvia Coates.

Indexers sometimes refer to themselves as “reader advocates” because they consider readers’ needs. According to professional indexer Pilar Wyman, indexes provide the mechanism for the reader to have a conversation with someone who has read the text. “The ideal indexer sees the work as a whole, understands the emphasis of the various parts and their relation to the whole, and determines what readers of the particular work are likely to look for” (Chicago Manual of Style).

Indexers are also “author advocates” in that they ensure that authors’ words are optimally accessible to their readers.


Types of Indexes

  • traditional back-of-book index
  • website index
  • database index
  • journal/serial publication index
  • embedded index


Helpful Tips on Finding the Right Indexer for Your Project

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