The Society of Indexers (SI) had a fine time celebrating its second National Indexing Day on Thursday 29 March 2018. The inaugural National Indexing Day (‘the NID’) was established on 30 March 2017 to commemorate the diamond anniversary of the founding of SI (see more on that here: NID 2017). We moved the date slightly this year to 29 March so that our plans would avoid Good Friday and Easter holidays.
For National Indexing Day 2018, SI ran a half-day event for book publishers at the Foundling Museum in London. We were pleased to be joined by a room full of publishing and project management companies, including Cambridge University Press, Hodder Education, I.B.Tauris, Jessica Kingsley Publishers, Oxford University Press, SAGE Publishing, Taylor & Francis, Transworld Publishers, and UCL Press.
The afternoon began with a welcome from the SI honorary president, Sam Leith, and a buffet lunch during which indexers and publishers could begin to meet and mingle. A series of presentations then focused on current indexing practices, how to evaluate good and bad indexes, and digital developments.
Ann Kingdom, SI Chair, gave the first presentation on good indexing practice and how indexers work. The SI Training Director, Ann Hudson, continued with a session on training, qualifications, commissioning indexes, and assessing index quality. There then followed a trio of speakers on digital and software developments. Ruth Ellis, SI Social Media Coordinator, covered the flexible functionality of dedicated indexing software, with a demonstration of the SKY Index program and a demo index based on her Foundling ancestor. As SI Marketing Director, I then presented a brief what, why and how guide to embedded indexing, with reference to software options to aid the process in Word and InDesign (particularly WordEmbed, KPS IndexUtilities and Index-Manager). Jan Worrall, SI Training Course Coordinator, rounded off the sessions with a talk on how to convert from embedding to ebook, discussing active linked indexes, XML indexing, and issues with EPUB and Amazon. The event closed with another opportunity to mingle over refreshments, followed by an ‘ask the indexers’ Q&A panel featuring all the SI speakers.
As last year, indexers and publishers also joined in throughout the day on social media. Ruth Ellis made a Wakelet storyline summary of the online #indexday activity, which included national press coverage in The Spectator and The Times. The summary can be accessed here: NID 2018 Wakelet summary.
We believe that this event was a really useful opportunity for indexers and publishers to learn from each other and start some vital conversations so that together we can create better indexes in future.
Roll on National Indexing Day 2019 and long live the NID!
As Marketing Director of the Society of Indexers, I am currently busy helping to organise the second annual National Indexing Day on Thursday 29 March. I was pleased to be one of a small team (alongside primarily Ruth Ellis and Ann Kingdom) who launched the inaugural National Indexing Day (or ‘the NID’) in March 2017 to commemorate the diamond anniversary of the founding of the Society of Indexers (SI) in 1957. The day’s celebrations received coverage online and in the media, including articles by Dennis Duncan in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS) (see ‘Index, a celebration of the’) and Sam Leith in The Guardian (see ‘In our Google era, indexers are the unsung heroes of the publishing world’). Other articles and coverage can be found on my blog post from the 2017 event at NID 2017.
This year, the NID will be even bigger and better, including a half-day event for publishers at London’s Foundling Museum, at which I will be presenting a session on embedded indexing and also part of the indexers’ Q&A panel with fellow SI members Ann Kingdom, Ann Hudson, Ruth Ellis and Jan Worrall.
For more details on this event, see the official SI press release and poster below and the SI website event page here, where you can book your ticket: National Indexing Day 2018.
As last year, I will keep this blog post updated with links to recent coverage. If you work with indexers, want to learn more about indexing, or just appreciate a really good book index, you can also follow along and join in on the day on social media with the hashtag #indexday.
NID 2018 links
The Australian and New Zealand Society of Indexers (ANZSI) are joining in with their own ANZSI National Indexing Day, also on 29 March, including photo shoots, presentations and a podcast. You can follow their hashtag #indexdayANZSI and read more about their plans on the ANZSI website here: ANZSI National Indexing Day.
Excellent interview with ANZSI member Denise Sutherland on the Australian Writers’ Centre website (transcript or listen from 29:50): To celebrate National Indexing Day on 29 March 2018, meet indexer and crossword creator Denise Sutherland.
Byte the Book news article by Paula Clarke Bain: National Indexing Day.
Blog post by SI member Nicola King: #indexday 2018.
Blog post by Judy Feldmann, Associate Managing Editor at MIT Press: ‘A moment of respectful gratitude for the art of indexing and especially professional indexers’
Blog post by indexer Stephen Ullstrom: ‘Happy Indexing Day! A tribute to the joys (and tribulations) faced by indexers’
A.S.H. Smyth for The Spectator blog: ‘The weird world of the hapax legomenon’
State Library of South Australia (SLSA) blog post: ‘In celebration of National Indexing Day’
National Indexing Day was also mentioned in The Times newspaper, 30 March, TMS diary, page 13, or available online here under ‘Edwina Currie, Revenge of’ (2nd diary item): https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/monstrous-lie-at-loch-ness-82c6dzbjd
A recent ‘eproduction hour’ (#eprdctn) Twitter chat about indexing ebooks, embedded and linked indexes. I led this discussion with Pilar Wyman (American Society for Indexing) and we were joined by many other indexers and ebook developers. See the summary here: #eprdctn indexing Storify.
NID 2018 press release
National Indexing Day: Thursday 29 March 2018
The Society of Indexers is celebrating the second National Indexing Day on Thursday 29 March 2018 with a half-day event for publishers at London’s Foundling Museum. The inaugural National Indexing Day was established on 30 March 2017 to commemorate the diamond anniversary of the founding of the Society of Indexers. The day’s celebrations took place both online and in the media, including articles by Sam Leith in The Guardian and Dennis Duncan in the Times Literary Supplement (TLS). Indexers, authors and publishers joined in enthusiastically on social media using the hashtag #indexday to salute these ‘unsung heroes of the publishing world’, in Sam Leith’s words.
A good index is a vital component of almost any non-fiction book. Book reviews and social media regularly feature reviewers, students and readers expressing their frustration at poor or absent book indexes. The importance of indexing still applies to ebooks in the digital age. Dedicated indexing software can help speed up certain automated tasks but a human indexer is needed for the intellectual work. Computers can produce concordances; they can’t create an index. A Ctrl-F search is not a full solution. It does not suggest synonymous access terms unmentioned in the text, highlight connections between concepts, or distinguish between significant information and passing mentions. Professional book indexers are trained to address all of these issues, to think like the reader and to look at each text from their perspective. Moreover, with embedded indexing, an index heading can be linked to the exact relevant location in the text of an ebook. Modern professional indexers have both the know-how and the technology to achieve this.
For National Indexing Day 2018, the Society of Indexers is running a half-day event in London. Aimed at publishers, editors and commissioners of book indexes, this will be held at the Foundling Museum, Brunswick Square, from 12 noon to 4 pm on 29 March. Following a welcome from our honorary president, Sam Leith, a series of presentations will focus on current indexing practices, how to evaluate good and bad indexes, and digital developments regarding embedded and linked indexes for ebooks. There will be an ‘ask the indexers’ Q&A panel session and break times for publishers and indexers to meet and mingle. The event will provide a useful opportunity for indexers and publishers to learn from each other so that together we can create better indexes and give added value to nearly all non-fiction books.
Tickets and a provisional programme are available now at: www.indexers.org.uk/news/national-indexing-day-2018. The ticket price of £30 includes all sessions, lunch and afternoon refreshments, and complimentary museum access.
We look forward to another successful National Indexing Day online at #indexday and live in London.
For further information, please email firstname.lastname@example.org or follow us on Twitter @indexers.
The Society of Indexers, now based in Sheffield, was established in 1957 to promote improved standards in all forms of indexing. It is the only autonomous professional body for indexers in the United Kingdom and Ireland and is associated with other indexing organisations around the world. Its aims are to promote indexing, the quality of indexes and the profession of indexing. Membership includes around 400 specialist indexers across the UK, working for authors and publishers in more than a hundred different subjects, from accountancy to zoology. The Society maintains an online Directory of Professional Indexers, which is searchable by subjects, skills and media. Further information about its training course, conference, local groups and how to commission an indexer can be found on its website: www.indexers.org.uk
NID 2018 poster
(Artwork by Martin Bain and Paula Clarke Bain for the Society of Indexers.)