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Book indexing is a hot topic in the world of self-published books. Whether your book needs indexing is often dependant on factors like the genre and form, but there are other things to consider as well. Do you want to make your book look not self-published? If the answer to this question is yes, then indexing is likely for you.

Indexing takes effort. But it doesn’t have to be excessively expensive or time-consuming. The value an index will add to a book should not be underestimated. It should be considerd an investment in producing a good quality book.

1. What type of books require indexes?

The first question you need to ask yourself is what sort of book are you planning to publish and do those books usually have indexes?

If your book is fiction, then you won’t need an index. That’s because indexes are, at their most basic, navigation devices. While a work of fiction is read from front to back, non-fiction are often used as reference works where the reader will be wanting to find a specific piece of information on a specific topic.

Sometimes if a reference piece is only short, like Green Hill’s The Little Book of Big Publishing Tips, an index isn’t a requirement. Our book is just 8,000 words spread across eight chapters. The chapter names are unambiguous, so the contents page which includes sub-sections seems more than adequate.

These sorts of publications don’t need an index, but as a publication’s complexity increases with more detailed and complex content, an index becomes necessary. For long reference works with perhaps thousands of topics, an index is indispensable.

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2. Benefits of book indexing

Indexing a book is useful. A quality index provides readers, publishers, and authors many benefits:

  1. Professionalism: An indexed book is seen as more professional and more authoritative. The information will be perceived as being put together with a structure.
  2. Improved Navigation: A well-indexed book allows readers to quickly find the information they need without having to search through the entire text. This can be especially helpful for readers who are using the book as a reference piece or are studying a specific topic. Indexes are like a maps, providing coordinates of how a reader can travel to the information they need.
    Indexing a book helps readers navigate to information - its like a map

    Indexing a book helps readers navigate to information – it’s like a map

  3. Increased Accessibility: An index can make a book more accessible to a wider audience by allowing readers to quickly and easily find the information they need.
  4. Marketing: An indexed book may be more appealing to potential readers and can help increase sales.

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3. What are the different types of indexes?

There are many sorts of indexes used across the information sphere. For example, a library will have a catalogue which is ever-growing to accommodate new content.

A ‘back-of-book’ index deals with a single published work rather than the corpus or the total of all produced/written works. A ‘back-of-the-book’ index identifies all significant major and minor topics.

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4. What is an indexer’s role?

An indexer is a publishing professional who specialises in producing indexes for books. Indexing can be technical, so employing a professional indexer is the best way to produce a quality outcome.

The indexer’s task is to analyse concepts, principles, events, and people in the text of a book and to produce a series of headings with referenced page numbers.

These headings should:

  • group like-information together that is often dispersed through the book
  • establish relationships between concepts

Books that have complicated information might need both a main entry and subentries. But even for the most complicated books, subentries within subentries should be avoided as they create cognitive difficulty for readers.

Green Hill has two highly proficient indexers. They are incredible and their fees may be quite a bit less than you think. Enquire with us today to get a quote on your indexing project.

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5. Green Hill’s book indexing methodology

Green Hill is a technologically agile new-breed publishing company. This means we are committed to automation. We often describe Green Hill as a book factory staffed by artisans. This means if we can automate any process without a reduction in quality we will.  Elon Musk, the owner of Tesla is famous for saying “first I see if we can automate, second I see if we can eliminate” (paraphrase) any process.

Often automated indexing is an increase in quality because it removes potential for human error.

While totally ‘automatic’ generation of an index is still a little way off (see artificial intelligence) – it still needs human judgement, part automation has long been a reality.

When you publish a book through Green Hill we can show you how to implement embedded indexing (EI). This technique is where hidden text is input into a document identifying concepts, terms, people and places to be included in an index.

As a self-published author this is an ideal way to generate a powerful index without the expense of using an indexer.

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Interested in publishing your book but unsure where to start or what is even involved? Tell us about your project and we will post you a copy of our:


The Little Book of
Big Publishing Tips.


In just a quick 8,000 words, this little book will equip you with the knowledge you need to successfully publish your book.

The Little Book of Big Publishing tips goes into the essentials of self-publishing a book, outlining the business and financial side of publishing, legal issues, design, editing, sales and marketing. There's even a section on how to identify a vanity-publishing scam.