June 11, 2009


Posted in books, Design, indexing, production, Tools, Typesetting at 4:45 am by India

talk to your kids about indexing

Via e-mail, Lars R. asks, “Would you consider doing a write-up on your blog on the production of indices and how indexing relates to the design process as a whole?”

Some topics I’m interested in include

– The usefulness of InDesign’s indexing feature (as opposed to third party programmes if they exist, or simply manually typing in numbers)
– The practicalities of the designer being involved with the nitty gritty versus any sort of indexing specialist working independently)
– At which stage in the production process indexing begins and ends
– Differences between independent/inhouse publishers and large commercial affairs
– Does the designer generally have any input to level of detail, extent etc, or is it exclusively a case of matter having priority over form? How does the index influence castoff?

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March 26, 2009

Big Is Beautiful

Posted in Accessibility, advice, books, Design, indexing, Typesetting, typography at 11:11 pm by India


I like getting to play Dear Abby! Though lately my responses read less like sage advice and more like columns by The Non-Expert—only not funny. Yesterday Sarah wrote with some questions:

Since 2002, I have been editor for our local historical society’s 20-page quarterly. When I first started, I did it in an old version of WordPerfect and (you’ll laugh) actually cut and pasted together the booklet and took it to our local printer.

Then I got slightly more high tech and started producing PDFs from the WordPerfect files.

The next thing was a switch to the Atlantis program, which produces .rtf files, from which I made PDFs to send to our local printer.

So, I still have all the old .wpd and .rtf files.

The historical society is now interested in taking the old issues, indexing them, and publishing the old issues in books (putting several together per volume) or perhaps just putting the old issues online.

However, there is not much of a budget for new software. The new software would need to do indexing and be able to handle endnotes and read the old files.

I am looking at Serif Page Plus and SoftMaker’s TextMaker. Have you heard anything pro or con or about these programs?

As a side issue — I am also looking into producing Large Print versions of documents. It seems that there are all sorts of standards that different organizations have for producing large print books. Do you have any advice for what standard to use, and how to handle graphics for large print books (obviously the graphics need to be bigger, but I don’t know how much).

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October 25, 2005

Indexes, indices, indixes

Posted in indexing, Work at 1:17 am by India

Okay, first off, here are the last two books I’ll ever index:

Appeal to Reason

History of African American Theatre

These happen also to be the only two books I’ve indexed. Professional indexers are special people, and I am not that kind of special.


  • Appeal to Reason, most of which I also typeset and the copyediting of which I supervised, had the cleanest manuscript I’ve ever seen, before or since. I kept saying, “We ought to send Craig [the editor] flowers.” We never did, but we did gush praise at him every time we spoke.
  • The manuscript for the History of African American Theatre was about seven inches high, and it was being copyedited while I wrote the index. Which meant that I had to look up which of the zillions of variants of all those titles and proper names and so forth were correct, and then e-mail them to the copyeditor. It was kind of insane; I thought I might die; I nearly died. The published index is forty-three pages, typeset. Also, I really don’t recommend compiling a large index using Excel. On the bright side, having obsessively fact-checked the index myself, I can now place reasonable trust in it as a fact-checking resource—I look up play titles and actors’ names in it all the time.