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





A Selection of Published Indexes


The Red Book of Chinese Martyrs: Testimonies and Autobiographical Accounts
Preface by Joseph Cardinal Zen, Bishop of Hong Kong
Ignatius Press, San Francisco

111 Questions on Islam
Samir Khalil Samir, S.J.
Ignatius Press, San Francisco

The Doctrines of Genesis 1-11
Rev. Victor P. Warkulwiz, M.S.S.
iUniverse, Inc.

An Irish Tragedy: How Sex Abuse by Irish Priests Helped Cripple
   the Catholic Church

Joe Rigert
Crossland Press, Baltimore

Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church
Leon Podles
Crossland Press, Baltimore

Turning Point for Europe?
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Ignatius Press, San Francisco, California

On the Way to Jesus Christ
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Ignatius Press, San Francisco, California

Truth and Tolerance
Joseph Cardinal Ratzinger
Ignatius Press, San Francisco, California

Native Religions and Cultures of North America
Lawrence E. Sullivan
Continuum International Publishing Group, New York

Sex and the Marriage Covenant

John F. Kippley
Ignatius Press, San Francisco, California

The Illusion of the Epoch
H. B. Acton
Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, Indiana 

History of Apologetics
Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J.
Ignatius Press, San Francisco, California

Hidden Manna A Theology of the Eucharist
Fr. James T. O'Connor
Ignatius Press, San Francisco, California

Do You Love Me? Jesus Questions the Church
Michael Crosby
Orbis Books, Maryknoll, NY 

Worthy Is the Lamb
Thomas Nash
Ignatius Press, San Francisco
Amazon link to Scripture index
(there is a Subject index too, though not on Amazon.com)

Theology of the Church
Desclée de Brouwer
Ignatius Press, San Francisco (reprint of 1958 editions)

Celibacy in the Early Church: the Beginnings of a Discipline
     of Obligatory Continence for Clerics in East and West
Stefan Heid (translated by Michael J. Miller)
Ignatius Press, San Francisco

Unlimited Love: Altruism, Compassion and Service
Stephen G. Post
Templeton Foundation Press, Philadelphia

Time and Eternity: the Question of Time in Church, Science,
   and Theology

Antje Jackelen
Templeton Foundation Press, Philadelphia

Introduction to Jewish and Catholic Bioethics - A Comparative Analysis
Aaron L. Mackler
Georgetown University Press, Washington DC
Amazon link to index

To Kill and Take Possession
Daniel Friedmann
Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts

Reading the Lines: a Fresh Look at the Hebrew Bible
Pamela Tamarkin Reis
Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts
(Index available as downloadable PDF here)

Redeeming Time: The Wisdom of Ancient Jewish and Christian
   Festal Calendars

Bruce Chilton
Hendrickson Publishers, Peabody, Massachusetts

Spiritual Combat Revisited
Jonathan Robinson of the Oratory
Ignatius Press, San Francisco

The Hidden Face: a Study of St Thérèse of Lisieux
Ida Görres
Ignatius Press, San Francisco

St. John's Gospel: A Bible Study Guide and Commentary
Stephen K. Ray
Ignatius Press, San Francisco
Amazon link to Scripture index and subject/name index

Earthen Vessels: The Practice of Personal Prayer
    According to the Patristic Tradition
Gabriel Bunge, O.S.B. (translated by Michael J. Miller)
Ignatius Press, San Francisco

Priesthood and Diaconate: The Recipient of the Sacrament of Holy Orders from the Perspective of Creation Theology and Christology
Gerhard Ludwig Mueller (translated by Michael J. Miller)
Ignatius Press, San Francisco

African Americans and the Bible
Vincent Wimbush
Continuum International Publishing Group, New York
Amazon link to Scripture index, to Subject index, and to Name index

Anti-Judaism and the Gospels
William R. Farmer, ed.
Trinity Press International

Jesus and the Suffering Servant 
William R. Farmer, ed.
Trinity Press International

A Spirituality of Resistance: Finding a Peaceful Heart and Protecting the Earth
Roger S. Gottlieb
Crossroad Publishing Company

And Now I See...
Robert Barron
Crossroad Publishing Company

The Matrix of Faith: Reclaiming a Christian Vision
Jeffrey Pugh
Crossroad Publishing Company, New York

The Doctrine of the Trinity: Christianity's Self-Inflicted Wound
Sir Anthony Buzzard and Dr. Charles Hunting
(second edition 2000)
International Scholars Publications

Our Fathers Who Aren't in Heaven: the Forgotten Christianity
    of Jesus, the Jew

Sir Anthony Buzzard
International Scholars Publications

Reshaping Religious Education
Dr. Maria Harris and Dr. Gabriel Moran
Westminster-John Knox Press

The Usual Suspects: Answering Anti-Catholic Fundamentalism
Karl Keating
Ignatius Press, San Francisco

The Catholic Church - the first 2000 Years
Ignatius Press, San Francisco

   "All the Books...[are] to be indexed in so clear and so intelligent a manner, that there may be no difficulty in the references".
~ George Washington,
on the copying and collecting of his papers

      In theory, the purpose of an index is simple enough: to guide the reader to key concepts contained in the volume.
      In practice, however, indexing is a lot trickier than it looks, especially when scholar-speak has to be translated into everyday English. Professional indexers -- they actually compete for Pulitzer-type prizes -- contend a good index is as enjoyable as a good book.

~ Beverly Kelley
Ventura County Star
November 17, 2003

     "The inclusion of an index is, of course, not enough in itself. It must be a good index."
The London Times
               8 May 1957

"Few authors, I suspect, are temperamentally capable of making their own index."
~ Alec Clifton-Taylor
An Open Letter to a Publisher


    We are aware that expense, time, and the skills required make a proper sort of index a good deal easier to ask for than to execute. However, since authors may spend years getting a book just right, and publishers may take great pains to make it handsome as well as legible, possibly both author and publisher could give more thought to those humble but nevertheless vital keys to stored-up knowledge
which only a good index can provide.

~ Audubon Magazine, July/August 1955

  "Books with no indexes are all apparently written or published by egotists. 
            ~ Lorena Garloch


Being Geek

   My favorite part of finishing a book is when the index shows up. I’m not sure who the magicians are who are responsible for building this index, but it’s an unexpected glimpse into a book that you thought you knew, but actually do not.

This is a welcome perspective because
at the end of a book, you’ve been in your head far too long. You’re sick and tired of how you mentally sound and how you construct thoughts. All of the delicious moments of discovery have long been forgotten among the endless writing and editing whilst lumbering towards an immovable deadline.

And then the index shows up and you realize you might’ve written something cool.

             ~ Michael Lopp


    My guess is it will be about 300 years until computers are as good as, say, your local reference librarian in doing a search.
~ Craig Silverstein
  Google's Director of Technology

    Of my seven books, I compiled the index to only one, the first, I swore a mighty oath, when I had finished the task, that I would rather die, in a particularly unpleasant manner, than do it again.

~ "Easy as a, b, d"
by Bernard Levin
in The Times (London)
December 23, 1985

see also his charming
Letters to his Indexer

..Jeopardy for $800

Answer:  'An Aussie woman's study of this 3-letter word & the alphabetical order problems it creates won a literature award.'

Question: What is "the".

Glenda Brown, an indexer, published this study
for which she was awarded
an Ignoble Prize in 2007.

Ignobel Prizes:
To honor achievements that
"first make people laugh,
and then make them think."


 Old Car
 History / Current Culture

An Irish Tragedy: How Sex Abuse by Irish Priests
    Helped Cripple the Catholic Church

Joe Rigert
Crossland Press, Baltimore

Sacrilege: Sexual Abuse in the Catholic Church
Leon Podles
Crossland Press, Baltimore

Faith in the Future
Harold G. Koenig and Douglas M. Lawson
Templeton Foundation Press, Pennsylvania

Searchlight: the Town that Couldn't Fail
Senator Harry Reid
University of Nevada Press

Take the Rich Off Welfare
Mark Zepezauer
South End Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Louder Than Bombs: Interviews from
   the Progressive Magazine

David Barsamian
South End Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Women Writing Resistance
Browdy de Hernandez
South End Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts

The Checkbook and the Cruise Missile:
     interviews with Arundhati Roy

David Barsamian
South End Press, Cambridge, Massachusetts

Rationing Sanity: Ethical Issues in
   Managed Mental Health Care

James Lindemann Nelson
Georgetown University Press, Washington DC
Amazon link to index

The Present Age: Progress and Anarchy in Modern America
Robert Nisbet
Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, Indiana

Faithful Finances 101: From the Poverty of Fear and Greed
   to the Riches of Spiritual Investing

Gary Moore
Templeton Foundation Press, Philadelphia

Understanding Wisdom: Sources, Science & Society
Warren S. Brown
Templeton Foundation Press, Philadelphia

The Future of Freedom in Russia
William J. vanden Heuvel
Templeton Foundation Press, Philadelphia

Non-Timber Forest Products in the United States
Eric T. Jones, Rebecca J. McLain, James Weigand, editors
University Press of Kansas

The End of Time
Josef Pieper
Ignatius Press, San Francisco (reprint)

Patronage or Partnership: Local Capacity Building in Humanitarian Crises
Ian Smillie
Kumarian Press

The War Against Population: The Economics and Ideology of World Population Control
Jacqueline Kasun
Ignatius Press, San Francisco

Making the Gospel Plain: the Writings of Bishop Reverdy C. Ransom
Anthony B. Pinn
Trinity Press International

Beyond the Empire: Rome and the Church from Constantine to Charlamagne
Desmond O'Grady
Crossroad Publishing Company

History of Disease and Medical Care in the Mountain West
Martha Hildreth & Bruce Moran
University of Nevada Press 

History of Hispanics in Southern Nevada
M.L. (Tony) Miranda
University of Nevada Press

Those Terrible Middle Ages
Regine Pernoud
Ignatius Press, San Francisco (reprint)



    What's encouraging is that the early new platforms—Kindle and iPad—are clearly leading to people buying more books... The bells and whistles around the text are constantly getting improved. One of the things that's fascinating about the Gutenberg era is how long it took them to invent the things we now take for granted. Gutenberg comes out with the book, and they figure out how to make an index 60 years later...

    ~ Steven Johnson, Where Do Good Ideas Come

  Go fin
d a book with an index and flip through it. Seriously, go ahead. I'll wait. Just bask in the lovely indentedness and order of it all.
   Now answer me a question: Should Google be calling that huge mass of crawled web data it computes upon an "index"?

The Humble Index
Science Blogs


    It is easy enough to make an index, as it is to make a broom of odds and ends, as rough as oat straw; but to make an index tied up tight and that will sweep well into the corners isn't so easy.

        ~ John Ruskin


    Roget's Thesaurus might have been considered an intellectual curiosity, except that at the last minute Roget decided to include an index.
That index, which helped readers find synonyms, made the book into one of the most popular reference books of all time. It is considered one of the great lexicographical achievements in the history of the English language.


   Historian Douglas Brinkley said much of his research begins with checking a book's index. He chastised publishers who don't include indexes for nonfiction works...
      ~ Book-TV "In Depth," (Oct 5, 2009)


Boring. See civil engineers

      Civil engineers in the UK are classified as boring, but not for much longer.   Frustrated at the 20-year-old joke that under "Boring" in the UK Yellow Pages telephone directory is the entry "see civil engineers",  the Institution of Civil Engineers has succeeded in persuading the directory to change the reference in future editions. Among civil engineers, tunnelling engineers have the reputation as the most dull, largely because their specialist publication, Tunnels and Tunnelling, has the nickname "bores and boring" within the profession.


Farewell the Winterline: Memories of a Boyhood in India
Stanley E. Brush
Chipkali Creations
See the index here

Living on the Edge: Tales of Woodstock School (India)
Sally Salisbury Stoddard, Charlene Chitamber Connell, Catherine Whitcomb Hinz, Sally Hazlett Woolever, editors

A Private Woman in Public Places: Barbara Jordan's
    Speeches on Ethics, Religion, and Law
Barbara Holmes
Trinity Press International, Harrisburg, Pennsylvania

Bertha E. Jaques and the Chicago Society of Etchers
Joby Patterson
Associated University Presses

The Last Bonanza Kings
Ferol Egan
University of Nevada Press

The Maverick Spirit - Building the New Nevada
Richard Davies, ed.
University of Nevada Press

Elderberry Wine
Peter Wotton
Alpine Books

Phillips and Singleton Genealogies
for Bil King, descendant



   ...Sometimes, during a tricky index, Sydney would take one of us into his lair, set us up at a narrow console table, and spend a long morning and even longer afternoon in debate over an entry. Authors had things to say, sure, but WE determined how easily a reader could navigate them in a 600-page biography:  Henry Kissinger's dog, Blackie, was hand-fed hamburger and string beans by Kissinger's mother (pet, diet of, 113).

   We worked under constraints: 1,100 lines was a sizable index; 780 lines meant we'd have to slash away. Balance, too, was a concern: a half-column on the mistress and only four entries for the missus? Maybe not. (Prudence, exercising of, 243)

   I never dreamed of becoming an indexer... David and Fred were more serious, arriving about once a fortnight carrying several 1,000-count cartons of 4 x 6-inch index cards (their original function), or to pick up blank ones. More rarely we steeled ourselves for the arrival of L., the son of someone famous, who was a crack indexer and an amiable fellow, but who'd gotten into some trouble for making obscene phone calls and spent some time on Rikers. (Employees, abilities of, 63; criminal records of, 66)

Inside Indexing: the Decisionmaking Process
Sherry Smith and Kari Kells
Northwest Indexing Press, Bend, Oregon

The Illusion of the Epoch (philosophy)
H. B. Acton
Liberty Fund, Indianapolis, Indiana

Debating Crime: Rhetoric and Reality
David Neubauer
Wadsworth Publishing Company

Intercultural Communication: A Reader
Larry A. Samovar and Richard E. Porter
Wadsworth Publishing Company

California Geography

   "Sitting down and indexing a book is—in our experience—the most painful, horrible, mind-numbing activity you could ever wish on your worst enemy..."

Real World Adobe InDesign CS@
Kvern and Blatner, p. 560

 Back Words Indexing
Martha Osgood, Indexer