Friday, July 20, 2012

Indexing Books Second Edition - Nancy C. Mulvany

Indexing Books, Second Edition (Chicago Guides To Writing, Editing and Publishing) - Nancy MulvanyIndexing Books, Second Edition (Chicago Guides to Writing, Editing, and Publishing)
Nancy C. Mulvany
University Of Chicago Press
Copyright: November 2005

The product description:
Since 1994, Nancy Mulvany's Indexing Books has been the gold standard for thousands of professional indexers, editors, and authors. This long-awaited second edition, expanded and completely updated, will be equally revered.

Like its predecessor, this edition of Indexing Books offers comprehensive, reliable treatment of indexing principles and practices relevant to authors and indexers alike. In addition to practical advice, the book presents a big-picture perspective on the nature and purpose of indexes and their role in published works. New to this edition are discussions of "information overload" and the role of the index, open-system versus closed-system indexing, electronic submission and display of indexes, and trends in software development, among other topics.
Mulvany is equally comfortable focusing on the nuts and bolts of indexing—how to determine what is indexable, how to decide the depth of an index, and how to work with publisher instructions—and broadly surveying important sources of indexing guidelines such as The Chicago Manual of Style, Sun Microsystems, Oxford University Press, NISO TR03, and ISO 999. Authors will appreciate Mulvany's in-depth consideration of the costs and benefits of preparing one's own index versus hiring a professional, while professional indexers will value Mulvany's insights into computer-aided indexing. Helpful appendixes include resources for indexers, a worksheet for general index specifications, and a bibliography of sources to consult for further information on a range of topics.

Indexing Books is both a practical guide and a manifesto about the vital role of the human-crafted index in the Information Age. As the standard indexing reference, it belongs on the shelves of everyone involved in writing and publishing nonfiction books.
This review is based on my first read-through of Nancy Mulvany's book. There are several sections where I will definitely benefit from multiple readings. That said, on with the review.

On seeing some pages on Indexing as a career option in other books, I started looking, thinking it sounds like an interesting job. Nancy Mulvany's book Indexing Books is one that I saw recommended on several of the various indexing societies websites, so decided to go for it to get some more information. I'm going to have to say that from my point of view, the recommendation was definitely worth it.

Indexing Books is written in such a way that I, a complete novice to the craft found it both understandable as an overview and an introduction to the various specifications needed and techniques involved with indexing. The author has even managed to make the book entertaining in places.

There are chapters on all sorts of aspects of indexing: the table of contents shows the following main headings (and two appendices: Index Specifications Worksheet and Resources For Indexers):
  1. Introduction to Book Indexing
  2. The Author and the Index
  3. Getting Started
  4. Structure of Entries
  5. Arrangement of Entries
  6. Special Concerns in Indexing
  7. Names, Names, Names
  8. Format and Layout of the Index
  9. Editing the Index
  10. Tools for Indexing
 Nancy Mulvany's work is certainly clear - although I feel like I definitely need to read it through now with a notepad and pencil at hand to work out some of the more arcane fine points to the craft, but I definitely have a greater appreciation for the indexes I've taken for granted to date.

Overall, a very readable and interesting, if specialized book. If you're interested in indexing, or may have to index your own book, I'd recommend reading Nancy Mulvany's Indexing Books for a solid start.

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