So, you've done your research, cited your sources, made sure your information is accurate and up-to-date, sent your manuscript off to your editor, and finally, you've written your nonfiction book. But if you think you're done and ready to get it published, not so fast--your work isn't done until it's got an index.
What's an index, and why does it matter? An index is an alphabetized list, at the back of the book, of all the subjects covered in your nonfiction book. Just about every nonfiction work that sells itself on being informational needs one so that your reader will be able to quickly find what they're looking for. Luckily, we're here to help with ten steps to help you get your book indexed.
- Start with your final page layouts. What that means? You must have finished all editing and have all you pages with text, pictures, illustrations and captions set into pages as they will appear in the book when it is printed.
- Go through the pages and highlight each word, name or phrase that you want to be listed in the index.
- Open up your word-processing program. Name the file “index to my book.” Type each work, name or phrase with a tab afterwards and the page number where it is located. (People’s names will have to be entered in the form of Randolph, Nancy E.) Each entry will be on its own line.
- Have someone other than yourself check this typed list against the page layouts.
- Correct the list.
- Sort the file alphabetically.
- Review the list for misspellings, consistency of terms, etc. During this process you find that you have Senator Smith, Mr. Smith and John Smith and John E. Smith and they are the same person. Decide how you want to index Smith and change all the entries to your choice. (Sort again.)
- When you find words misspelled; go back to your actual set pages and check and see if it was a typo in the page or in the typed index entry.
- Create the entries by collecting the page numbers after the first appearing entry or the same phrase, name or word. Finish the entire list.
Tilton, Abram . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 7
tower of toilets . . . . . . . . . . . . . 53-54
Town’s End . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .2 6
Twambly, Fred . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .6 0
Twombly, Andrea . . . . . . . . . . . . . .7 0
Twombly, Charles “Jack” . . . . . . . 60,
61, 66-71, 73
Twombly, Helen Belle Gooch . . . . 51,
53, 60, 61, 65-67
- Now you have a great index. (Proofread it one more time.) Flow it into your desktop publishing program or send it to your publisher. I like to set the index into two columns.
Nancy E. Randolph operates Just Write Books LLC offering consulting and coaching to writers. After fifteen years of publishing Maine books by Maine authors telling Maine stories, Randolph developed a reputation as a publisher of quality Maine books. Now Randolph is offering her An active community member along with two others she founded and serves as a member of the board of Save Our Swinging Bridge.Org to ensure the maintenance of the historic Roebling-designed and -built bridge connecting Topsham and Brunswick.