Skip to main content

Indexing Books, Second Edition

Second Edition

Since 1994, Nancy Mulvany’s Indexing Books has been the gold standard for thousands of professional indexers, editors, and authors. This long-awaited second edition, expanded and completely updated, will be equally revered.

Like its predecessor, this edition of Indexing Books offers comprehensive, reliable treatment of indexing principles and practices relevant to authors and indexers alike. In addition to practical advice, the book presents a big-picture perspective on the nature and purpose of indexes and their role in published works. New to this edition are discussions of "information overload" and the role of the index, open-system versus closed-system indexing, electronic submission and display of indexes, and trends in software development, among other topics.
Mulvany is equally comfortable focusing on the nuts and bolts of indexing—how to determine what is indexable, how to decide the depth of an index, and how to work with publisher instructions—and broadly surveying important sources of indexing guidelines such as The Chicago Manual of Style, Sun Microsystems, Oxford University Press, NISO TR03, and ISO 999. Authors will appreciate Mulvany’s in-depth consideration of the costs and benefits of preparing one’s own index versus hiring a professional, while professional indexers will value Mulvany’s insights into computer-aided indexing. Helpful appendixes include resources for indexers, a worksheet for general index specifications, and a bibliography of sources to consult for further information on a range of topics.

Indexing Books is both a practical guide and a manifesto about the vital role of the human-crafted index in the Information Age. As the standard indexing reference, it belongs on the shelves of everyone involved in writing and publishing nonfiction books.

320 pages | 8 line drawings, 3 tables | 6 x 9 | © 2005

Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing

Library Science and Publishing: Publishing

Reference and Bibliography


"Mulvaney’s book is widely used as a textbook in North America, and the release of a revised second edition will quite likely ensure its continued popularity. . . . I have utmost respect for anyone with enough patience to write, let alone revise, a thorough textbook that covers all aspects of indexing. Mulvaney’s pertinent . . . discussions of important issues facing our profession gives this volume an importance beyond the realm of mere instruction."

Ruth Pincoe | The Indexer

"[Indexing Books] should be on every aspiring indexer’s reading list."

C&RL News

"When you are an acknowledged leader in your field, and you have literally ’written the book’ on indexing, what do you do for an encore? If you are Nancy Mulvany, professional indexer and author of the industry standard Indexing Books, you write a second edition that reflects the concerns of indexers in the 21st century."

Dick Evans | Technical Communication

"I am a huge fan of this book. It is engagingly written in jargon-free English with a well-designed format. I highly recommend it for all faculty of information studies libraries and those libraries that may have among their users would-be indexers or authors that are interested in knowing about the methods of indexing their books. . . . This second edition should replace the first edition on library shelves." 

Jean Weihs | Technicalities

Table of Contents


1. Introduction to Book Indexing
Information Overload
Open-system vs. Closed-system Indexing
The Future of the Book
The Index as Paratext
The Long History of Indexes
What Is an Index?
The Purpose of an Index
The Audience: Who Uses Indexes?

2. The Author and the Index
The Book Contract and the Index
The Writing Process and the Index
Who Should Prepare the Index?
Relationship between Author and Indexer
3. Getting Started
The Book Production Process
The Nature of Indexing Work
What Not to Index
What Is Indexable?
How to Index the Indexable Material
Interpreting the Publisher’s Instructions
Usability and Index Style
Estimating the Size of an Index

4. Structure of Entries
External Structure
Internal Structure

5. Arrangement of Entries
Order of Characters
Word-by-Word Alphabetizing
Letter-by-Letter Alphabetizing
Basic Rules Affecting Both Alphabetizing Orders
Other Alphabetizing Guidelines
Nonalphabetic Arrangement in Indexes
How to Choose an Arrangement Order

6. Special Concerns in Indexing
Abbreviations and Acronyms
Uppercase and Lowercase Letters
International Characters
Numerals, Symbols, and Other Nonalphabetic Characters in Entries
Multiauthored Works
Multivolume Works
Multiple Indexes
Single-source Indexing

7. Names, Names, Names
Personal Names
Names with Only a Forename
Roman Names
Obscure Names
Names with Particles
Non-European Names
Geographic Names
Organization Names
Alphabetizing of Names
Names of Works

8. Format and Layout of the Index
Overall Index Style
Indented Style
Run-in Style
Other Styles
Cross-reference Format and Placement
Special Typography
Final Submission Formats
Layout of the Index

9. Editing the Index
Editing by the Indexer
Review by the Author
Editing by the Editor
Reducing the Length of an Index: Tips for Editors
Revising an Index for a Revised Edition

10. Tools for Indexing
Manual Methods
Automatic Indexing
Computer-aided Indexing
The Future

Appendix A: Index Specifications Worksheet

Appendix B: Resources for Indexers
Professional Associations
Standards Organizations
Internet Discussion Group
Training in Indexing
Publishers of Dedicated Indexing Software
Winners of the ASI-H. W. Wilson Award for Excellence in Indexing
Internet Resources


Be the first to know

Get the latest updates on new releases, special offers, and media highlights when you subscribe to our email lists!

Sign up here for updates about the Press