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The Indexer

Each national indexing society produces a monthly or quarterly newsletter, often available online to its own members and under reciprocity agreements to colleagues abroad, and most of these contain helpful if often brief descriptions of specialised indexing techniques, software or specialisms. However the key international resource, covering all these topics in appropriate depth and with the highest authority remains the profession's only international journal The Indexer. The journal has its own website at, incorporating a constantly updated inline index from 1996 to mid-2010. Work on this is on hold pending a decision on the best future-proof method of linking the index to the online issues.

Accessing The Indexer

Several links to items published in The Indexer appear throughout this site so it's important that members of indexing societies, the customer community and the interested public know how to access it:

Please note that the March 2012 issue (see below) is open access and is free to all on Ingenta.

March 2012 Issue - indexing in the digital age

In March 2012, The Indexer devoted a special issue to emerging publishing technologies which serves as a reasonably up-to-date review. Here are the abstracts of the eight articles that appeared:

The tyranny of the page (Mary Coe)

"Page (noun): a leaf or one side of a leaf, as of a book, letter, newspaper, or manuscript." Mary Coe wonders what will happen to the page as books move away from print and into electronic format. Is the page a cruel ruler that we can easily do without or is it a necessary structure for peace and harmony? She predicts that readers need the page, or something like it, and that indexers will have a role to play in the new regime.

New technology and public perceptions (Bill Johncocks)

The challenge that emerging publishing technologies present to indexing is complicated by two common misunderstandings: first, that indexing depends on pagination, and second, that it simply locates term occurrences. The profession's approach should surely be based on a clear separation of the intellectual process of indexing, whose mechanization we need to resist, from the development of device-independent location systems, which we should embrace and attempt to influence. A brief overview of current technologies is attempted.

The devil is in the details: indexes versus Amazon's X-Ray (Jan Wright)

The X-Ray feature available on new editions of Amazon's ereaders could be viewed as a replacement for an index.Comparisons of the details available to readers in X-Ray and in a traditional index show that X-Ray is missing a lot of valuable information, and does not show us, as Amazon claims, 'the bones of the book.'

Hand-helds as ereaders: exploratory thoughts on hand-held devices and indexes (Pilar Wyman)

This article presents the author's experience with one medical reference text product which is published both in print and mobile (iPhone/iPod touch/iPad, Android, Blackberry) editions: Geriatrics at your fingertips® (GAYF).

Visualizing back-of-book indexes (Ceilyn Boyd and Mitch Wade)

As the popularity of ebooks has surged, so too has interest in how best to enable readers to browse and search for topics of interest within them. Two obvious strategies are to integrate ebooks with full-text search capabilities or hyperlink-enabled indexes. But we can also treat indexes as knowledge representations, encode them as data structures, and use computer graphics techniques to create unique index visualizations. These visualizations can reveal or emphasize relationships between topics - and their locations within the text - that are obscured in the traditional presentation of indexes and that are completely unavailable to the reader via full-text search.

The semantic web: an introduction for information professionals (Matt Moore)

The 'semantic web' is a term that has been in common use for a decade. This article examines what the semantic web means for information professionals and provides an overview of some of the core technologies, such as RDF. It then explores the network of linked data that has arisen from using these technologies, before concluding with three suggestions for information professionals wanting to explore and exploit the semantic web for their own work.

Publishing, XML and indexers (Nic Gibson)

Things have changed in publishing, both within publishing houses and in their relationships with suppliers and freelances. Indexers are aware of the steady downward pressure on costs and subsequent outsourcing to lower-cost environments. Many indexers will also have seen publishers turn to automated indexing software. These are all clear risks to the indexing profession. However, the author believes that the introduction of XML-based workflows and the growth of the ebook market both provide new opportunities for indexers. This article discusses some of the risks and problems inherent in these changes with reference to indexes and indexers. It also discusses the opportunities for indexers to engage with and benefit from the world of digital publishing.

XML indexing (Michele Combs)

The author introduces XML indexing, and explains some of the techniques used in preparing XML indexes.

The March issue of The Indexer is available (free to all) on Ingenta and to purchase in hardcopy at

Society of Indexers, Woodbourn Business Centre, 10 Jessell Street, Sheffield S9 3HY
The Society of Indexers is a company limited by guarantee and incorporated in England and Wales.
Registration number 6303822.
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