Back Words Indexing 

  Back-of-the-Book Indexes
     for Publishers and Authors

      "You're going to love the way your book ends!"



about indexes
my background

authors as indexer
computers asindexer

quotations about indexes/indexing
indexer humor

order of the kohlrabi
wilson awards judge



Martha Osgood
Back Words Indexing

Since 1996

author of the index in
Inside Indexing:
the Decisionmaking Process

by Sherry Smith & Kari Kells





Basic Info
Fine Print

(specifics may vary in actual contract)
Basic Information Needed

Title of Book ________________________________________

Topic / Thrust _______________________________________

Audience(s) ________________________________________

Editor's name/street address and phone/email _________________

Number of indexable pages
Page size _________     Size of font _______ Columns _____   

Date Final Page Proofs to be delivered TO BWI ____________

Date Completed Index to be returned to publisher __________

Any restrictions on number of pages for index? (optional) _____

Rough number of entries per text page expected? (optional) ____

Method of text transmission
Please send the book to me by email as a PDF attachment  (I do not charge to print the book at my end, and it saves you courier costs and time). 
Form of finished index - I send you a plain version of the index in Rich Text Format which you would open in Word or Word Perfect. If your compositor prefers a tagged version, I can do that too.

Type of index(es):

single concept/name index
several indexes  (i.e., subject/name, subject index, name only, authors cited, Latin plant names, Scripture, bibliographical, or other additional indexes) __________________________

Once we decide to do business with each other, I will ask for the following:

  • a single PDF of the book after all pagination has been set in stone with India ink glue (=page numbers and content absolutely must not change after indexing begins)
  • all back matter (glossary, bibliography, appendixes) whether to be indexed or not
  • all front matter (introduction, title page, table of contents, preface, foreword) whether to be indexed or not
  • a style sheet, specification/style decisions, a sample index as a model, or permission to make these decisions based on my experience and the needs of the text
  • copy of the agreement, signed



Even if we simply "Follow Chicago," (Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition) there are choices available. I am comfortable making the decisions about those items for which you do not indicate a preference.

Style preferences
           Chicago 15   
          House (send detailed Style Sheet or preferred style example)     

           Indented (list style) - up to three levels as needed
           Run-in (hanging paragraph style) - two levels only (main and sub)

           Word-by-Word       Letter-by-Letter      
           Depends on the needs of the text   

Locator Format
           Full page ranges -    324-328
           Abbreviated page ranges (Chicago) -    324-28
           Very abbreviated page ranges (Hart) -    324-8

         Specify alpha-sort order (or let me decide based on the needs of the book):
          nineteen twenty-four
          one thousand nine hundred twenty four
          1924 (i.e., at the top of the index, if a main entry)
one-hundred-yard relay
hundred-yard relay     

Cross-reference Placement
After main entry
As first subheading after main entry
As last subheading
Forbid c/r after subs

           Footnotes, Endnotes
           Illustrations, Photographs, Drawings
           Tables, Charts, Figures,  
          And if so, in what format (or I can decide)

term, 73 term, 73n term, 73n5 term, 73 n. 5
term, 154 term, 154f term, 154 f2 term, 154 fig.2
term, 154nn3-4 term, 154nn3, 7 term, 154nn3, 7-8  

Seed List - If there are specific concepts the author wishes to see in the index, feel free to list those (10-15 max) and their synonyms. Be assured that even without such a list, a professional indexer understands to look for concepts from the text itself.



* I may request to see the book or representative portions of the book before making my quote firm. My charges range from $4.00 to $6.00 per text page, although most books that I have indexed have come in at $4.50/text page unless conditions mentioned on the Costs Page change that figure. (If they do, I will contact you early on).

* My estimate is based on an indexable page count. An indexable page is any page of the book (whether it is included in the index or not) which carries potential information, including pictures, figures, graphs for the index. Front and back matter, which I request for background, are not considered "indexable" unless you request that they be indexed.

* Re-indexing charges are $45/hr if the book's pagination changes after indexing has begun. (Note: if the content of any changes by whole pages and, say, all of page 55 becomes all of page 58 or all of Chapter 6 exchanges places with all of Chapter 13, there is no problem. If parts of some pages become parts of other pages, the re-indexing charge will apply.) I cannot emphasize enough that indexing depends upon the content of each numbered page remaining stable from the beginning of the indexing process to the final publication.

* An equal grace period is required at the tail end if the front end slips.

* I use Chicago 16 conventions, modified by your style preferences and the needs of the book. I would appreciate the house style sheet and the copyeditor's style sheet for your particular book (especially for spelling of names and unfamiliar words).

* The book is sent to me by email attachment or on a CD in PDF format. PDF (Portable Document Format) is a cross-platform method of transporting documents, exactly, in final form. This saves you shipping fees, and I do not charge for printing out a (magnified) copy of the book. I start the indexing process as soon as I receive the PDF, and use the PDF's search capabilities during the editing process.

* The delivered index will be considered a penultimate product. Your review and suggestions are welcome. Adjustments taking less than two hours will not incur extra charges. Sometimes adjustments are literally as easy as a few keystrokes on my end for changes that would take hours on your end. And I know where all the bones are buried.

* At no extra charge, I request to be allowed to quickly proofread the index after it is typeset.  Proper indention is vital to an index, and twice I have found that an index I wrote has been rendered nonsensical (at least in part) by lack of attention to this very important detail.

* I bill by invoice and my invoices are payable upon receipt of index. No interest is due if payment is received by the 30th day after the invoice date. Interest is applied at a rate of 1.5 percent per month or partial month, including the month following date of the invoice. International invoices are payable in U.S. funds, and transfer fees are to be paid by the sender. Copyright is transferred when full payment is received.

* Responsibility for payment. The party who signs the agreement is the party responsible for payment. Authors are asked for 50% down when the agreement is signed.

* Oregon law shall govern and enforce this agreement. Any litigation or arbitration between the parties shall take place in Lane County, Oregon.

* Back Words Indexing does not assume liability for the content of the indexes. I am a freelance, independent subcontractor. Upon request, I will provide my SSN #.