Archive for February, 2010

Going Rogue without an index

Tuesday, February 16th, 2010

Sarah Palin’s autobiography, Going Rogue: An American Life, published in November 2009, lacked an index.  Why?  An index, as explored in the previous post, would have been an invaluable tool to the scholars who will undoubtedly refer to the 413-page book to survey the political climate during the 2008 presidential election and Sarah Palin’s role as John McCain’s vice presidential running mate.  Other readers may want to refer to an index to find coverage of her interview with Katie Couric or the Saturday Night Live skits.  Whether the book was rushed to print or whether Palin tried to foil “the Washington read,” a practice in which people look up their names in the index before purchasing the book, the lack of an index is a huge flaw.

The American Society for Indexing (ASI) awarded Sarah Palin and HarperCollins Publishers a Golden Turkey Award for not including an index, and in their memo dated November 20, 2009 posted to the ASI discussion list, took the opportunity to tout why indexes are so important.  ASI says that “Palin’s book performs a crucial public service.  The inaccessibility of information in this text makes it clear to any reader that a good index is essential to a book’s long-term value.  Sarah Palin’s Going Rogue has no index at all – a brilliantly simple if deviant way of proving the need for an index, worthy of one who prides herself on being a bit of a maverick.”

To fill the void, since Sarah Palin did not put an index in her book, others have produced indexes for Going Rogue and posted them on the Internet.  I am including links to two, one from Slate and the other from The New Republic:

The Going Rogue Index from Slate

The Going Rogue Index from The New Republic

Despite these indexers’ commendable efforts, there is no substitute for including an index in the original book.

For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website,

Why is an index needed?

Sunday, February 7th, 2010

Even if a book is well-written and contains a clear table of contents, a reader may still have trouble finding what he or she is looking for.  A good index acts as a bridge between the author’s concepts and the readers’ particular needs.

  • A good index saves the user time.  Whether the reader is looking for one key date or an in-depth discussion of a complex topic, an index that is concise, accurate, and unambiguous points the user directly to the information in question.
  • A good index may be a reader’s primary avenue into the work.  Some books, especially those that are technical in nature, may never be read cover-to-cover.  Users may, instead, look to the index to find the information that they need at any given moment.
  • A good index gives potential readers a clear sense of the content of the book.  The index gives a first impression for teachers, researchers, librarians, and reviewers, who all look to the index to tell them how comprehensive or detailed the book may be.

An index is an invaluable tool for readers.  It identifies and distinguishes information within a book that would be of significance to the reader.  It enables readers to quickly and conveniently access desired information.  The index focuses and groups together similar ideas and concepts enabling the reader to gather together all pertinent information relating to their search.  Subentries within an index allow for a more narrow and specific search.  We will explore how quality indexing enhances search retrieval in future posts.

For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website,