What can I say? This is my book! I spent a lot of time writing it and speaking with other indexers. This is not about the theory of indexing, rather it is about the practice of indexing. A book for freelancer indexers, written by a freelance indexer.
Linda Fetters has written a down-to-earth, practical guide to indexing. Readers of her software reviews will be familiar with her lucid writing style which she puts to good use in this Handbook. Fetters tackles topics like, "What the Index Includes," "How Long an Index Should Be," "Inverting or Flipping Entries," and "Indexing Books Before Pagination Is Known." We are lucky that an indexer with so much practical experience has shared her insights with us. I highly recommend this book.
Hans Wellisch has written an encyclopedic reference book that deserves a place on every indexer's bookshelf. The book is organized in A to Z fashion. The writing style is friendly, knowledgeable, and witty.
The Chicago Manual of Style provides the working standard specifications for indexes in North American publishing. Chapter 17 is devoted entirely to indexes. This is one of the most frequently used reference books in my library.
My comments refer only to the coverage of indexing in this book. An entire chapter is devoted to indexing (Chapter 9, pp.149-178). The discussion is good and covers various topics: "Time Required to Create an Index", "Selecting Topics to Index", and "Avoiding Indexing Problems" to name a few. Their treatment of editing indexes is particularly good. This book was prepared with FrameMaker and comes with a CD-ROM that contains the files along with FrameViewer to look at the files. On page 154 we find time estimates for indexing such as, "allow one full day for every 25 pages of text." Then they add, "If you have your book's index prepared by a professional indexer using dedicated indexing software, approximately 50 to 60 pages of technical material can be indexed per day." It's nice to see this admission in print: using embedded indexing software takes much longer than a professional indexer who uses dedicated indexing software. When will these folks realize that they are unlikely to ever recapture that extra time and expense? One item missing from Chapter 9 is arrangement of entries. Both the printed index and the online index exhibit very strange alphabetizing errors. Also they totally avoid the problem of symbols as leading characters in main headings by not having any.
My comments refer only to the coverage of indexing in the first edition of this book. This style guide is arranged in alphabetic order. The "indexing" section (pp. 91-97) covers such topics as "Order of entries", "Alphabetizing indexes," "Sorting numbers as numbers", and "Cross-references in indexes". Microsoft comes right out and says that they arrange entries in word-by-word order and special characters are sorted in ASCII order. They even discuss the difference between "machine sorted" and "edited" numbers. In their discussion of cross-references they introduce a new wrinkle, See herein. They don't discuss what this form is or how it is used. But their example (p. 97) suggests that it is a replacement for the tedious infra and supra constructs seen in some legal indexes. This book comes with a disk that contains the book in a Help file. The printed index provides a good example of the arrangement of symbols and numbers in an index. The online Help file, muddles this up. Actually, the index in the Help file is not the same index as that which is in the book. The index in the online Help is very muddled up (see the Acronyms entry and look at the strange alphabetizing order!). This book and Help file is an excellent example of the drawbacks and limitations of moving from print to online in regard to indexes. However, if you are indexing material about programs or hardware that run on the Windows platform, you will find this book useful for presentation of general style issues.
Karen Judd's book is a hands-on, practical guide to the fine art of copyediting. Many editors have recommended this book to me.
This is a loose-leaf collection of changes to the 1998 revisions of the Anglo-American Cataloguing Rules. If you do not already have a copy of AACR2 these amendments will not be of much use to you. If you do have a copy of AACR2 and you want to be up-to-date, this collection of changes is easy to insert. Some of the changes do affect the arrangement of personal names, organization names, and place names.