Archive for June, 2013

Technology and the Indexing Process

Sunday, June 16th, 2013

“Technology and the Indexing Process,” was a seminar held on Friday, April 19, 2013 at the annual conference for the American Society for Indexing at San Antonio, Texas.  The seminar was led by Kate Mertes, the 2013 ASI Wilson Award winner for the most outstanding index of the translation of Montesquieu’s My Thoughts.  In the seminar, Dr. Mertes focused on technology, which affects the way we index.  From perforated strips of index cards to embedded indexing, she discussed how technology has affected the intellectual process of indexing.

While in college, Dr. Mertes completed her first index for a student’s thesis.  She said she was limited by technology.  She first used notepads, writing subject headings on sheets, and then organized the sheets on a wall.  But later she used index cards, as she built up a sideline of completing two to three indexes a year.

Indexing on index cards had a long turnaround time.  One subject heading would be written on one card, then all the cards would be alphabetized.  It took two weeks for something that indexers could now do in four days, she said.  She called this the Stone Age.  She was using an electric typewriter with perforated strips of index cards, when indexing software like Cindex was developed.

“We were able to produce a lot more entries a lot faster.  You could go back and look through the index and change things in groups, she said.  “It radically changed the way we indexed.  It speeded up the intellectual way you could move through the book.”

With indexing software, as an indexer she could produce much faster and produce much more.  There was a greater initial accuracy in matching of duplicate main headings and subheadings.

Then with embedding indexing, “technology took a step backwards,” she said.

“I really felt like I had gone back to the Stone Age, indexing in Framemaker,” she said.

Embedded indexing uses a unique markup system, locators for markup in the text, in which tagging is turned into an embedded system.  Embedded indexing hyperlinks the page locators in the index with their tags in the text.  It is time-intensive, taking twice as much time as indexing the text, she said.

A better embedded program is needed, she said.  Tech people decided that the word is the entry.  While this works well with a name, it doesn’t work as well with conceptual indexing, she said.

She described CUP methods of indexing, the embedded indexing used for the Cambridge University Press, for which she has compiled indexes.

Future blog postings will focus on other seminars at the annual conference of the American Society for Indexing. For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website,


Digital Trends Task Force Update

Saturday, June 1st, 2013

During the annual conference for the American Society for Indexing (ASI), held in San Antonio, Texas, on Friday, April 19, 2013, a Digital Trends Task Force (DTTF) Update was given as part of the Plenary Session.  The co-chairs are David Ream and Jan Wright.

The mission of the ASI DTTF is to gather information about changes in digital publishing practices as they affect indexes.  Also, members of the DTTF strive to interface with leading digital publishing companies, e-Reader hardware and software suppliers, standards developers, and industry partners to find solutions to ensure inclusion of usable indexes in nonfiction digital book formats and e-books.  Another mission of the DTTF is to inform ASI members regarding digital trands in a timely manner so that indexers can prepare for and participate in technology-driven and process changes.

Members of the DTTF have been working to develop EPUB 3 Indexing Standards, as covered in the last blog posting.  Noting that functionality for indexes for e-Books was broken, members of the DTTF worked with leading software developers such as Adobe in digital publishing.  The next version of Adobe InDesign, Creative Cloud, currently available by subscription, will offer embedded linked indexes for e-Books.

The DTTF used four keywords to describe the approach to the development of e-Book indexes: monetization, discovery, navigation, and metadata or aboutness.

Future blog postings will cover other sessions at the ASI conference.  For more information about the services provided by the author of this blog, see the Stellar Searches LLC website,