A professional indexer understands how to help a reader find the information they need.
“Librarians and educators review indexes when evaluating whether to acquire or adopt books.”
– American Society for Indexing
The indexing process often reveals errors in the text, but did you know that indexes can also help identify related terms? That is if the words are spelled in reverse! Check out this video on the Backward Index, created at Merriam-Webster during the 1930s-70s.
S.R. Ranganathan’s The Five Laws of Library Science describes his five precepts for serving the needs of readers. A good index will follow these rules for ensuring usability.
Indexes are important tools that connect books to readers. An index needs to be sensitive to the needs of the reader and to the context in which it is written.
Salmon Bay Indexing is proud to announce its 15th year of providing professional indexing and taxonomy consultation services.
I founded Salmon Bay indexing while I was pursuing my MLIS degree at the Information School at the University of Washington. The tech boom was in full swing, and people were interacting with information in new, rapidly changing ways. I knew I wanted to combine my love of books with my love of technology, but was not yet sure how that would look.
In 2002, I attended a chapter meeting of the American Society for Indexing. A couple of years earlier, I had edited a book but was stumped when it came time to include an index, so I decided to omit it. It had always bugged me. By this time, I had several years of experience developing content management processes and tools. I was now interested in ways to better organize information. As I studied the development of controlled vocabularies, I saw how organizing bibliographic data and working with content publishers could be applied to the business of indexing.
At this time, the publishing industry was seeing a rise in the popularity of e-books. The Information Age was here. Daniel Pink had just published Free Agent Nation, and the gig economy was beginning to take shape. Here was an opportunity to combine books, technology, and the DIY ethic. Against the advice of my academic advisor, I founded Salmon Bay Indexing.
My first client was an independent publisher with a growing catalog of environmental policy titles. More jobs followed as my name got passed around to other editors. I was working in a library and going to school during the day and indexing books in the evenings. In my previous e-commerce experience, I saw how taxonomies were designed and implemented to enhance the customer experience. In my indexing work, I applied these same concepts to benefit the reader. The publisher that gave me my first job has since morphed into an imprint of a large publishing house but remains one of my best clients.
Over the past fifteen years, Salmon Bay Indexing has worked with a network of information professionals to provide editorial services, taxonomy development and implementation, database indexing and embedded indexing to clients. I continue to work in all subject areas, with a particular interest in working with publishers of content related to social justice and environmental issues. I have a wide range of clients based in the US and the UK that include academic presses, indie publishers, multinational corporations, non-profits and self-publishing authors. As a way to give back and improve our world, I do pro bono work for selected non-profits.
An index can often give a far clearer glimpse of a book’s spirit than the blurb-writers or critics are able to do.
– Harold Macmillan
The Society of Indexers (UK) has declared March 30 as National Indexing Day in honor of its 60th anniversary.
In his article, “In our Google era, indexers are the unsung heroes of the publishing world” Sam Leith explains the art of indexing and how a professional indexer adds value (and sometimes humor) to the back of the book.
Salmon Bay Indexing was recently listed as an InDesign “InDexer” on InDesignSecrets.com.