Prentice Hall Author Guide


An important component of your book is the index. Readers refer to it constantly and reviewers often comment on its adequacy. A book's usefulness--and consequently its sale-- can be increased or diminished by its index.

Who Compiles the Index?

As the author, you are responsible for providing the index. You may find it worthwhile to have a professional indexer do the job. If your book is technical or scientific in nature, we urge you to prepare the index yourself, or at least have a colleague do it for you. Most professional indexers will not have the technical knowledge to do justice to such an index.

Many word processing systems allow you to create your own index as you prepare the manuscript. As you go along placing index markers, you may wish to create a reference file of your main headings and the style of your entries. This step will help you avoid redundant headings.

As with any electronic file operation, check with your Editor to make sure that the index created with your software will be compatible with the software used for the final version of the book.

When to Index

Because the index is the last part of the book to be set in type, any delay in preparing it may delay publication. Begin indexing as soon as you have read the first batch of page proofs and keep the index up to date as further batches arrive.

What to Index

The first thing to consider is what to index. If you, as a reader would be likely to look something up, include it in the index. If not, don't include it. If it's a "maybe," put the item in.

Break down every main idea into the individual details readers are likely to look for; they will seldom look in the index for the subject of an entire section or chapter, which appears in the table of contents. Obvious items to index are names of people, organizations, institutions, events, places, and so on.

Always look for the key word and index every item under its key word. Frequently, an item contains more than one key word. In such cases index the item under each key word.

Important Rules

  1. Alphabetize items beginning with Mc or St as though the full form - Mac or Saint - were used.

  2. Alphabetize entries beginning with figures as though the figures were spelled out - "400 Club" under the Fs.

  3. Alphabetize abbreviations of government agencies, broadcasting companies, publications, etc. according to the order of letters in the abbreviation, not as though the names were spelled out.

  4. Alphabetize subentries according to the first principal word, ignoring any preceding prepositions and articles.

  5. Capitalize the first word of each main entry; all remaining words should be lowercase unless they require capitalization for other reasons.

  6. Separate each entry from its page number(s) by a comma; use a colon after an entry without a page number if it is followed by a group of subentries.

  7. Make sure no entry consists of an adjective standing alone.

  8. Edit the entries to make them as concise as possible, striking out prepositions that are not absolutely necessary to the meaning.

  9. Combine similar entries and provide cross references where necessary. Using cross references avoids unnecessary repetition.

Keyboard the index electronically one column to a page, double-spaced. Then check the accuracy of the index. Send the index file with a hardcopy printout to the Production Editor.

As soon as the Production Editor receives the index (from you or from the indexer who has been commissioned to prepare it for you), it is sent to the compositor to be set directly into pages.

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