Even when hiring a professional indexer to be involved in the publishing process, many editors encourage their authors to provide an initial brief as guidance to the indexer. Due to the depth of reading and research performed on a topic brought forth in a manuscript to be published, the author knows the important themes of the book – and how potential readers may expect to find them listed and organized in an index. Therefore an indexing brief supports the indexer in their efforts.
Here are some considerations when providing the indexer with an indexing brief:
- A brief is best provided as a list of key topics and is most useful to the indexer before they begin their work on your manuscript.
- In a sentence, state the persons/entities that are your reading audience for this book. This helps the indexer determine the use or language of certain terminology.
- Do you expect notes, front matter, figures, illustrations, tables, and boxes to be included in the index? By default, the indexer will follow the press specifications, however, if you have a need for further discussion, do so before the indexing has begun.
- Are there different terms used synonymously throughout the text for the same concept and should they be collected together under one heading in the index, with cross-references from the synonymous terms? If so, include these on your list and note which is the preferred term.
- By indexing standards, only substantive information or discussion of a term/concept are indexed. It is important to be aware that that the indexer will not list the page number for every reference in the text. By extension, not every person or place mentioned will end up in the index. So if there are some topics or categories of entry that you would like to see more exhaustively listed, include this note in your brief.