The following resources list is a guide to useful resources on all aspects of digital technology likely to affect the working indexer, from dealing with computer crashes, through choosing software aids to following latest ebook trends. The major resource for indexing worldwide of course is the international journal The Indexer, which is accessible in various ways and featured a special epublishing issue in March 2012.
'Digital publishing' is a vast and amorphous subject, changing by the minute. Terminology is unsettled and emerging trends hard to identify. As with many other technological changes it will be easier to say where we are going once we have got there. Indexers vary greatly in their understanding of the issues and how these affect them. Those publishing on ebook trends vary at least as widely in their appreciation of information retrieval fundamentals. The tsunami of popular articles by enthusiasts proclaiming the death of the book don't deserve to be reproduced here: they are not simply easy to find; they are hard to avoid.
A few indexers are IT experts, revelling in the new opportunities; others just want to understand enough, at least at this stage, to go on doing a good professional job. One problem has been that few clients began with any deep understanding of the technology involved or how indexing fits in. This makes it all the more important for indexers themselves to be clear what the issues are, what the challenges and possibilities. Every effort is made to keep the list up-to-date and relevant. The latest additions are indicated by a "new" icon  to help with their identification. If you have corrections or suggestions for inclusion please contact email@example.com.Page Contents:
- Arriving through your letterbox
- Help! (with hardware and software)
- Helpful software
- Semi-automatic indexing
- XML indexing
- FrameMaker, Madcap Flare, LaTeX et al
- Online discussion groups and listservs
- Some blogs
- Where's it all going?
- Background reading
Arriving through your letterbox
The Indexer: the international journal of indexing, published by the Society of Indexers on behalf of the international indexing societies, has a long record of articles and reviews looking at technology and the indexer. Consult the index (1996-2011) at www.theindexer.org or (for a quick overview) the contents by category. The Indexer is also available online.
The March 2012 issue of The Indexer was devoted to indexing in the digital world - see abstracts of the articles. For non-subscribers, in addition to the online version, it is possible to purchase a print copy.
SIdelights: The Society of Indexers Newsletter has regular features and special articles on various aspects of technology of interest to the indexer. Society of Indexers members can check the index. and the newsletters of sister indexing societies participating in the international exchange scheme are available on the Society of Indexers website to members too.
You are rushing to complete a job, and suddenly something goes wrong with your hardware or software. Forget your resentment that hardcopy manuals are a thing of the past - there are now so many other ways to sort out problems:
- Hardware manuals are often available for downloading, to print out or not as you please.
- There is a wealth of independently produced user manuals, the Dummies series being very reliable (but before buying check out customer reviews on Amazon).
- The 'help' feature built into almost all of today's software is often excellent. Key in 'smart quotes' for example, and Word help will explain precisely how to do whatever you want with them.
- Google your problem - the chances are that you will find dozens of websites discussing exactly how to resolve it. And this at least brings the reassurance that you are not alone.
- It can be well worthwhile using the 'contact us' option to discuss your problem. This often works well, whether you do it by a simple email, by signing up to an online 'chat with our technical adviser', or by telephone (though sadly too many of the big companies still work office hours - Monday to Friday, 9-5).
- If you are having problems with your emails, take a look at your server's website. They can be slow to spot there is a problem (and by definition you may have problems accessing this), but again it is reassuring once they do, to know that it is nothing to do with you or your equipment.
- If it is specialist software, in particular indexing software, that you are having problems with, put your problem to the relevant listserv, or to the software supplier (Cindex, SKY Index and Macrex all offering excellent back-up services).
- Post to SIdeline or one of the other discussion groups.
And, for Googling purposes, forget your indexing habits! Natural language and word order gets you further with Google than inversions. And best of all, if you have it, is to key in the error number. (You will also need this for discussion with the supplier, and may also need to do a screen grab. Don't know how? Google 'screen grab'!)
Read also Jon Jermey, 'Misbehaving computers' (The Indexer, 25(3), 195-6 (April 2007)).
In addition to the standard software (word-processing, database tools, PDF readers and the dedicated indexing software packages) there is a lot of other software which is particularly useful for indexers working on digital material. Jan Wright, Glenda Browne, Michele Combs, David Ream and Pilar Wyman provide a matrix to help indexers choose tools and processes in 'The Matrix: creating an active index in all kinds of formats, from all kinds of tools', The Indexer, 31(4), 137-142 (December 2013).
The software listed below represent only a small selection and will be added to as we build up a fuller picture of what is available with reasonable confidence that a product is worth consideration. All the products listed below have received enthusiastic support from users and have had good reviews in SIdelights, The Indexer, and/or Key Words.
- Converting an index prepared using the indexer's preferred software to a Word-embedded index:
Lucie Haskins explains 'How DEXembed and WordEmbed work, and why you might use them' in The Indexer, 32(3), 113-120 (September 2014)
- Direct indexing in Word:
- Preparation of an existing index for importing into a standalone indexing program:
- HTML Indexing Freeware:
- XRefHT32 (for a description, see Heather Hedden's review 'HTML Indexing Freeware: XRefHT32' and James Lamb's Website Indexes: visitors to content in two clicks)
- Repurposing a print index for the Web:
- PDF-indexing software interface:
- Megabit Macros (Margaret Berson)
- Scripture indexing:
There have been interesting developments in German indexing software in the past year or so. Jochen Fassbender reviews SmartIndex and Index-Manager in 'Software developments in Germany', The Indexer, 32(1), 41 (March 2014).
As IndDoc puts it in its promotion material, "the aim is to propose to indexers (documentalists, editors, authors, etc) a rich nomenclature and a list of references that are used to generate the final index". There is a full description of IndDoc by the developers in The Indexer, 25(2), 122-5 (October 2006).
PDF Index Generator (PDFIG) says about itself: "PDF Index Generator is a powerful indexing utility for generating an index from your book and writing it to your book in four easy steps. PDF Index Generator parses your book, collects the index words and their location in the book, then writes the generated index to a PDF or a text file you specify."
Jon Jermey, reviewing PDF Index Generator in the January/February 2010 ANZSI Newsletter, concluded, "[A]ttempting to turn [PDFIG] output into a usable index would involve far more work than actually indexing the book properly in the first place".
TExtract is perhaps the program best known to indexers, having been presented at several indexing society conferences by the developer, Harry Bego. Reception (as on all 'automatic' indexing software) is, to say the least, mixed. For an enthusiastic report, see Roger Bennett's 'TExtract: a regular user's view' (The Indexer, 27(2) (June 2009)). For a more critical view see Janet Shuter's review in The Indexer, 25(4) (October 2005) and Bill Johncocks' editorial 'Be afraid, be very afraid!' in SIdelights (Winter 2010, p.1).
Jan Ross also writes about the prospects for automated indexing ('The impact of technology on indexing', The Indexer, 22(1), 25-6 (April 2000). Although Jan wrote in 2000, her arguments remain valid, the fundamental problem being that any sort of automated indexing must begin with a word search and is liable, at best, to present a concordance of variable quality. To move beyond that requires (as the IndDoc team recognize) a lot of additional input from the human indexer.
If a concordance or keyword index (see word spotting) is the aim, semi-automatic indexing software may go a long way to meeting your needs - and can be just as easily handled by an author as by a professional indexer. (Both TExtract and PDF Indexer Generator are promoted principally as tools for the author to generate his or her own index.) But for analytical indexing, for indexing concepts rather than keywords (the added-value the professional indexer offers) even semi-automatic indexing still has a long way to go.
For an excellent review of what true XML indexing involves (as opposed to preparing indexes in Word or PDF which are then processed for XML purposes) see Michele Combes' 'XML indexing', The Indexer, 30(1), 47-52 (March 2012).
- David Gardiner, Digital publishing with XML: concepts for editors. Available free in PDF and EPUB formats.
- Norman Walsh, DocBook 5.1: the definitive guide, O'Reilly (December 2012)
InDesign is an important program, better known to indexers in the United States than elsewhere, but that may change with the release with of Adobe InDesign Creative Cloud (CC) in June 2013, a key innovation being the possibility of exporting linked indexes to EPUB. EPUB changes in CC are discussed at:
- Digital Book World has compiled a comprehensive listing of resources for 'Going from InDesign to Ebook' (September 2014)
- Kvern, Olav Martin, David Blatner and Bob Bringhurst, Real World Adobe InDesigh CC, Peachpit Press, July 2013 (reviewed in Jan Rayment's 'Adobe InDesign CC', The Indexer, 32(2), 77-79 (June 2014))
- Adobe's summary of InDesign EPUB Changes - CS6 to CC
- Terry White, Adobe's Worldwide Creative Suite Design Evangelist, discusses his "Top Five Favorite Features" of InDesign CC, one of which is the linked EPUB index feature.
- Anne-Marie Concepción, InDesign Secrets, summarizes the EPUB improvements in "New EPUB features in InDesign CC".
- YouTube Video: InDesign CS6 Indexing - Tutorial on how to create an Index for your Book!
The ASI-DTTF have issued a couple of press releases directed at publishers and indexers. The notes for indexers give lots of useful suggestions on where to look for further help, including the InDesign indexing discussion group.
Plug-ins are being developed to ease the professional indexer's task, one example being the suite developed by Kerntiff Publishing Systems (KPS). For a review of the plugins by Lucie Haskins see 'Working smarter, not harder, with the KPS Indexing Plugins', The Indexer, 31(4), 143-150 (December 2013).
FrameMaker, Madcap Flare, LaTeX et al.
These are all, like InDesign, specialized document production systems which a number of indexers, particularly in the US, work with regularly (and there always new systems coming along). Descriptions can be found at FrameMaker, MadCap Flare, LaTeX.
Online discussion groups and listservs
Not all of us like them and it is arguable that there are too many jostling for space in a very small world but some are essential if one is to keep in touch with what's going on in the indexing world. Possibilities include:
- The indexing software user lists (cindexusers, SKYIndexUsers (both Yahoo groups, open to non-users), and Macrex (a closed group))
- InDesign Indexing Discussion Group
- Index-L (a US-based group, by no means coterminous with the American Society for Indexing, and with subscribers from around the world)
- LinkedIn has a number of indexing-related groups including:
- Indexes for Digital Publications (of particular importance for anyone wishing to follow developments relating to indexing in the digital world)
- Indexer Network
- Society of Indexers
- Society for Scholarly Publishing (SSP)
- Ebooks, Ebook Readers, Digital Books and Digital Content Publishing
- STM Publishing Group
- Scholarly Indexing Yahoo Discussion Group
- ASI's Digital Publications Indexing SIG (was the Web & Electronic Indexing SIG) Yahoo Discussion Group (see also their list of discussion groups)
- James Lamb
- O'Reilly Radar ('Insight, analysis, and research about emerging technologies')
- Peter Meyers
- Infopacific blog ('This is the Infogrid Pacific blog on digital content in general.' It is primarily authored by Richard Pipe, CEO of Infogrid Pacific (and an IWG ePUB spec sceptic)).
Where's it all going?
The argument rages as to whether eBooks will be the death or the salvation of the publishing industry and the book as we know it.
You might like to take a look at some surveys and discussions of ebook trends:
- Nadya Anscombe discusses how academic publishers are still experimenting with formats, interactive content, open access and business models in 'Experimenting with e-books', Research Information, April/May 2014.
- Nicholas Carr, 'The flattening of e-book sales', 5 August 2013
- Joe Wikert, 'The slow pace of ebook innovation', 9 November 2012
- Bill Johncocks, 'Who's afraid of ePublications' (Presentation at 2013 SI Conference)
- The Future of the Textbook, Against the Grain
- College students' use of Kindle DX points to e-reader's role in academia, University of Washington, 2 May 2011
- UC Libraries Academic e/Book Usage Survey
Technology and indexing fundamentals
- Jan Ross, 'The impact of technology on indexing', The Indexer, 22(1), 25-6 (April 2005). Written in 2000 this still provides an excellent overview of what changing technology means for the indexer.
- Bill Johncocks, 'The myth of the reusable index', The Indexer, 24(4), 213-17 (October 2005).
Choosing your eReader
For an overview of the sort of thing that's going on in ePublishing and where the indexer might fit in take a look at:
- Michele Combs and David K. Ream, explain how and why indexing bodies have become involved in drawing up a specification for indexing under the EPUB3 standard, and outline its content, in 'Understanding the IDPF EPUB3 Indexes Specification', The Indexer, 32(3), 121-129 (September 2014)
- Agata Mrva-Montoya, Bronwyn O'Reilly, Deepak Chandran and Richard Pipe discuss IGP:eIndexer, a tool that enables future-proof, dynamic indexing for print and digital formats in an XHTML5 environment, in 'Dynamic indexing: Infogrid Pacific and Sydney University Press join forces', The Indexer, 32(3), 109-113 (September 2014)
- EPUB 3.0 Working Group on Indexes (IWG) reports
- Sally Goodenough, 'Structured data, standards, and indexes', The Indexer, 31(4), 133-137 (December 2013). Explores the nature of structured data and some benefits and implications of storing indexes as structured data according to the EPUB standard.
- Bill Johncocks, 'EPUB indexes and the future of indexing revisited', The Indexer, 31(4), 151-152 (December 2013).
- Glenda Browne, Mary Coe and Michele Combs, 'EPUB3 indexes and the future of indexing', The Indexer, 31(3), 110-21 (September 2013).
- 'Getting index output in all kinds of formats, from all kinds of tools: a matrix'. Jan Wright's presentation at the 2013 ANZSI Conference.
- Newcomers - a selection of articles from The Indexer for those new to indexing (283 iPad pages). Published in a variety of eBook formats with a linked index.
- In 'Producing an eBook - How hard can it be?' James Lamb describes how he tackled the production of Newcomers and the problems he met along the way.
- Glenda Browne's eBook Introduction to indexing: a collection of articles [free download], a collection of six articles (27 pages) of interest to new or prospective indexers. Created using a basic style in Oxygen (an XML editor) and Sigil to convert the XHTML files to EPUB format. Has two active indexes showing alternative ways of linking from indexes to text.
- 'Converting a Legacy Print Book to an EPUB with PinpointIndex Linking', a presentation by David Ream (ASI-DTTF) at the ANZSI Conference in Wellington, NZ, March 2013.
- Oliver Brooks' 'Buy once, sync anywhere: It's time to get a grip on the fragmentation of digital books'
- Hugh McGuire's 'A publisher's job is to provide a good API for books: you can start with the index' explores the future for semantic indexes for ebooks using APIs and what means for publishers and self-publishers (also published in The Indexer, 31(1), 36-8 (March 2013).
- Glenda Browne and Mary Coe's, 'Ebook navigation: browse, search and index', The Indexer, 31(1), 26-33. The authors examine the ways in which users can navigate within nonfiction ebooks by browsing, searching and using indexes with particular reference to library collections.
- Jan Wright (ASI-DTTF) in her keynote address to the ANZSI Conference, 'Intrepid Indexing: From the Sea to the Stars' (March 2013), discussed the challenges facing today's indexers and how they are rising to meet them.
- Nick Disabato's 'Publication standards part 1: the fragmented present' and 'Publication standards part 2: A standard future'
- Baldur Bjarnason discusses the current state of ebook production and shares thoughts on how ebook development should be taking place in 'The end of ebook development' and 'The web and ebooks have little in common'
- eBook architects (now part of Firebrand Technologies)
- The EPUB 3 support grid, a joint project between the International Digital Publishing Forum (IDPF), BISG, and the DAISY Consortium. Shows what EPUB 3 features are currently usable on which device, app, and reading system.
- Peter Meyers' Breaking the page: transforming books and the reading experience (reviewed in the March 2012 Indexer).
- IGP:Digital Publisher, developed in collaboration with Sydney University Press who now use is as part of their workflow.
The summer of 2013 saw a flurry of articles arguing that the print book is far from dead:
- James Surowiecki, 'E-Book vs P-Book', New Yorker, 29 July 2013
- Louise Gray, 'Authors stand up for traditional books over e-books', The Telegraph, 21 July 2013
- For an indexer's viewpoint: Richard Northedge, 'The medium is not the message: topic maps and the separation of presentation and content in indexes', The Indexer, 26(2), 60-4 (June 2008).
- The basic concepts are set out in Steve Pepper's The TAO of topic maps. And take a look at Towards Seamless Knowledge - Integrating Public Sector Portals in Norway. More information and links can be found on the Ontopia, and Topicmap.com sites.
- The Taxonomy Warehouse is a directory of taxonomies, thesauri, classification schemes and other authority files from around the world, plus information about taxonomy references, resources and events.
- Heather Hedden, 'Controlled vocabularies, thesauri, and taxonomies', The Indexer, 26(1), 33-5 (March 2008)
- Heather Hedden, 'Comparative evaluation of thesaurus creation software', The Indexer, 26(2) 50-9 (June 2008)
- Fred Leise, 'Controlled vocabularies: an introduction', The Indexer, 26(3), 121-6 (September 2008)
- Glenda Browne and Jonathan Jermey, Website indexing: enhancing access to information within websites, 2nd Edition, ISBN 1-875145-56-7
- James Lamb, Website Indexes: visitors to content in two clicks, available for purchase on Lulu
- Heather Hedden, 'Software for HTML indexing: a comparative review', The Indexer, 25(1), 31-7 (April 2006)
- David Ream, 'Repurposing print indexes for the web', Key Words, 19(1) (Jan/March 2011)
A few articles to you make your decision on which software is for you. Each of the 'big three' is continually developing and offering new ways to help the indexer, but the underlying approaches (which these articles look at) remain constant. Read them, try out each system using the free demonstration packages, enough to handle your training course assignments and then complete a modest index. Then choose what you are most comfortable with.
- Caroline Diepeveen, Jochen Fassbender and Michael Robertson, 'Indexing software', Information Wissenschaft & Praxis, 58(8) (2007)
- Sylvia Coates, 'Software solutions', The Indexer, 27(4), 168-72 (December 2009)
For an exhaustive list of what's available see ANZSI's page on software.
Updated: April 2017