Feature Proposal: Indexing tool
This is a proposal for an indexing tool, written from the perspective of an indexer, not a production editor. It would be great to have some feedback from the production side. I do not know what happens to an index after it is submitted to a press.
Ideally, Editoria should accommodate, or improve on, the two most common professional back of the book indexing methods:
Writing and editing an index using the final page proofs. This method has multiple approaches, which includes a) marking the page proofs, then entering the headings and page numbers into an editor, and b) displaying the page proofs on a monitor, and entering the headings and page numbers directly into the indexing software/editor, which simplifies many aspects of the editing process and automates all of the formatting specifications, which can vary by publisher and or text.
Embedded indexing, where an indexer can create an interactive/XML index by marking up/tagging the text during the production process for exporting with the final page proofs. While I'm not as familiar with embedded indexing, I am aware that there is a general sentiment among indexers that they do not produce the quality well-structured analyzed indexes desired for scholarly monographs. However, publishers cite benefits to the workflow. For example, first page proofs will be of the entire book, including a fully set index in page form; overall schedule time should be shorter; they have a fully usable index in whatever form the content is published in, now and in the future. Few indexers are trained in this method. If Editoria could simplify (GUI interface required) the process of compiling and editing a quality index during the production process, rather than as the final task before the book goes to press, it would be adopted widely. I’ve discovered a new commercial effort that claims to do this, but I haven’t used or seen it demonstrated, Index Manager.
METHOD 1, TRADITIONAL INDEXES Most indexes are created by professional freelance indexers (using one of the three highly sophisticated indexing software programs, Sky, Cindex and Macrex), who are hired by the authors. Freelancers, may submit the final index file to the author or the production editor. Indexes are generally submitted to the press/author as a double-spaced single column file, with the requisite detailed formatting Feature_proposal-indexing_tool.docxSample_Index.RTFrequirements. I do not know what production editors do with the index once it is received from the indexer, or how that process could be simplified for them.
- Editoria should allow for an indexer to write and edit an index within Editoria using the final page proofs AND allow an indexer, or team manager, to submit into Editoria an RTF file of an index generated from the final page proofs
METHOD 2, EMBEDDED/XML INDEXES Any automated XML indexing tool should be able to handle these very basic and common indexing practices:
- To create multiple index styles automatically - indented and run-on (examples can be supplied if necessary).
- To create main headings and subheadings, including words and phrases that do not appear in the text.
- To alphabetize all headings and subheadings and choose between letter-by-letter and word-by-word alphabetizing order.
- To designate stop/ignored words in alphabetizing.
- To create and auto-format cross reference style and placement, See and See also.
- To indicate how page ranges should be handled (e.g., simple, aggressive, aggressive 2, Chicago, Chicago 2; examples of effects can be supplied if necessary).
- To indicate the character to use between page numbers, hyphen or en dash.
- Punctuation placement (commas, semicolons, colons) should be automated.
- To indicate how many columns the index will be.
- To generate an introductory note to describe special features of the index.
As mentioned above these are basic practices. Fine tuning some of the more complex aspects of constructing and editing an index would be an ongoing effort. They concern what occurs after completing the rough index, when an indexer edits it for structure, clarity and consistency, formats it to specifications, and proofreads it. Anything to simplify the XML index editing and output process in Editoria would be an improvement over the current complex and time consuming options that indexers currently have for XML indexing that is not compatible with their indexing software programs.
I've attached a Word file of the proposal and a sample index, submitted to Cambridge.