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Frank Curry

Good post, Carol, on a subject dear to the heart of indexers. Indexing is an art, not just following a set of rules or guidelines, and it can take a while to become a skilled artist/indexer. (Much like the art of copyediting.)

Valerie (Kyriosity)

"You might picture indexers as nice, middle-aged women who like to talk about embroidery—and you would be partly right—until you see them in a conference session debating syndetic structure."

This made me laugh. As a middle-aged woman who likes to talk about embroidery, I know that to be exactly the category of persons out of whose way I'd recommend staying in a passionate discussion of editorial matters.

I've never had the pleasure(?) of creating a book index, but as a reader I give a hearty amen to your counsel here. Many's the time I've wanted to give a poor indexer a poke with an embroidery needle!


Very interesting! I'd love to take a stab at an indexing job (for fun, like a crossword puzzle), but am a complete amateur. I have so much respect for professional indexers. What a task!

John Cowan

Orson Scott Card's novella "The Originist" (available in the anthology Foundation's Friends and the collection Maps In A Mirror) contains the best description I've ever read of how an indexer's mind works, and what a _really_ good index can do for scholars. Start on p. 245 of Maps, or read the whole story; it's beautiful for many other reasons. Maps is available on Google Books at http://books.google.com/books?id=FLNCovxKl7IC .


Fyi, the "educate yourself" hyperlink at the end is broken.

Carol Saller

Thank you, Nabetafish! I updated the links.

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