Indexes for books, periodicals and databases

Our indexer at work

"Sir, my friend John Baynes used to say that the man who published a book without an index ought to be damned ten miles beyond Hell, where the Devil could not get for stinging nettles." - Francis Douce, 1879

We guarantee you a comprehensive, useable and professional-quality back-of-book index, on time and on budget.

Whether an academic textbook, a family history, a cookbook or anything in between, our indexes will provide an accurate "X-ray" of the text, enabling your readers to find all the important information at a glance. We make full, academic-strength indexes, or simple lists of names and places.


What isn't a quality index?

Look at this example from a published book:

Bullying 7, 13, 16, 18, 20, 21, 23, 29, 30, 39, 40-6, 48, 50, 53, 63, 72, 77, 80, 83, 85, 87, 90, 105, 112, 114, 127, 129, 131-2, 147-8, 159, 164-5, 174, 193, 214, 227, 231-2, 237-9, 240-2, 268, 270-3, 275, 277, 286-7, 293, 304-9, 315, 316, 319, 320, 324, 336, 337, 340, 342-4, 348, 355, 356, 364, 385, 393, 396, 407, 411, 421, 422, 425, 427, 432, 436, 446

That's not good indexing. A huge list of numbers after a single-word reference doesn't help the reader. They might as well just open the book at random and take their chances. And if you're interested in a particular sub-topic of bullying - for example, bullying in the workplace - you'd have to look through all those 50+ pages in the hope that there might be something. This kind of indexing might be cheap. But it's not useful. And your readers will not thank you for it.

What is a quality index?

Five different top-quality indexers will produce five different indexes for the same book, because of their own personal "style". A good quality index, however, is one which the reader finds easy to use and helpful.

An index is like an x-ray of a book. A good index will show the structure of the book - all the important ideas, concepts and subjects, and how they all fit together. It will also make all those things easy for a reader to find.

For that reason, a good index isn't a list of words (that's technically called a "concordance"). It's a guide to the ideas in the book.

This is why indexing is an art, rather than a science - or, to put it another way, this is why we still need humans to make indexes. Computers can find words; only a human brain can pick out ideas.

Backwords Indexing has more to say on this topic, as does Denise Sutherland.


Our quality commitment

Metatext guarantees that any index you get from us will be:

  • comprehensive - it will cover all the significant aspects of the book, and (in the case of a Full Index), clearly show how they relate to one another.
  • useable - the index will be easy to use for readers to find all those significant topics.
  • objective - the index will professionally and dispassionately set out the argument of the book, rather than offering opinions on its content.
  • on time and on budget.

Pricing

All quotes are indicative only.

  • Full index - a thorough "X-ray" of the text, including all significant subjects and concepts, thoroughly cross-referenced. The correct option for any work for a specialist or scholarly market. $NZ5.50 per page.
  • Names and Places index - a simpler index which just lists people, places, organisations, or other "proper nouns". Usually a more appropriate form for family histories or biographies. $NZ3.50 a page.
  • Update index - Say we've already made you an index of your book, but the page numbering or the content of the text has changed - maybe there have been corrections or the book has been reset. Not a bother - simply send us the new draft and we will update the index. Flat fee of $NZ200.

Please provide all texts to be indexed as PDFs, or as paged plain texts. Please advise us if you have a text for indexing in some other format. For all New Zealand residents, add GST of 15%.

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