Indexing

When no further changes can be made affecting the pagination of your book (i.e. at final proofing), we will ask you to prepare and send us your index. (There is no point preparing an index until editing and typesetting of your text are finished. But what you can usefully do in advance is think through what type of entries are needed, and perhaps even draft a list of these.) In essence, the index should be an alphabetical mind-map of your book. During its preparation, please ensure that your decisions are guided by the principles of conciseness, comprehensiveness and relevance.

 There are two main ways of preparing an index: 

  • The traditional method is that while you proofread the text you prepare at the same time a manual index, recording the entries with highlights or notes in the proofs, or keying them immediately into a text document.

  • The mark-up method requires that you obtain from us a single computer file generated from the typeset proof and saved in Word document which you can paginate to match the typeset proof (by altering the font size or inserting hard page breaks). You can then enter indexing tags directly into this document itself. This is a slow job but, when completed, the resulting index is instantly generated and should need little adjustment. Index generation can even be re-run repeatedly in conjunction with tweaking of the tagged entries.

Either way, you need to determine what elements of the book to index. Obviously, your body text must be indexed but you could also index notes that comment on the text as well as glossary entries, illustrations and captions (if any). Citations and the bibliography are usually not indexed but we have no objection if you want to include a few key entries in your index.

An index is made of entries known as headings and page references. An entry that consists of a heading and more than about 15 page references should be broken down into subentries, which have subheadings and page references. Always distinguish between entries and subentries by indenting the latter. When composing an index it is thus important to avoid very obvious words that would produce enormously long entries. For instance, in a study of family dynamics, the word ‘family’ cannot stand alone as an index heading (because presumably you would have to list almost every page of the book). Instead, you should introduce explanatory subentries such as

family  
    ~ economy
     size of ~

Some points to keep in mind:

  • The index should neither be too long nor too short! An average 4–6 typeset pages (corresponding to 8–12 word-processed pages) should be sufficient for a book of 250–300 pages.

  • Order your entries and subentries alphabetically (with numbers before letters) but with subentries you should ignore such extraneous initial words as ‘in’ and ‘a’.

  • Your entries must appear in the index in the same form as in the body text (e.g. italicized words must be italicized).

  • If you use abbreviations rather than the full names (for political parties etc.) in the body text, enter the abbreviation into your index followed by the full name in parentheses, e.g. ‘CCP (Chinese Communist Party)’. You can also add a cross-reference, in this case ‘Chinese Communist party. See CCP’.

  • Note that See and See also for cross-references should be italicized.

  • At NIAS Press, we generally prefer only two index levels (entries and subentries) as we find the formatting gets very complex with more levels without adding much of value for the reader. A better alternative for a subentry with sub-subentries is to upgrade the former to become a main entry.

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