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How to become an Indexer

indexer careers

What does a Indexer do?

Indexers compile indexes for documents such as books, periodicals, technical manuals, reports, CD-ROMs and websites, so that users can locate information quickly and easily.

The indexer first studies the document carefully to get an overall idea of what it covers. They then organise the index so that information is easy to find, cross-referencing to make links between related topics.

Computer software is used for the routine tasks such as sorting, formatting and printing

As indexers are usually self-employed, they need to find clients, negotiate work and carry out the tasks associated with running a small business.

What's the working environment like working as a Indexer?

Indexers have no set working hours; they work to customers’ deadlines. This can mean working long hours, including evenings and weekends, to complete an index on time.

The work involves sitting for much of the time. Most indexers work from home.

What does it take to become a Indexer?

To be an indexer you should:

  • be logical, methodical and able to work to a very high standard of accuracy
  • have good general knowledge and some specialist knowledge for indexing particular subjects
  • have a good command of English, with accurate spelling and punctuation
  • have keyboard skills and access to a computer
  • have good powers of concentration
  • be able to work quickly and accurately to tight deadlines
  • be self- disciplined enough to organise your work, especially if you work at home.

Indexer Career Opportunities

Nearly all indexers are self-employed and are commissioned to prepare single indexes. They often combine their role with professional experience in other fields such as proofreading and copywriting.

Indexers have to sell their services to publishers, authors, libraries, commercial companies and public bodies, so being able to market their skills is important. It may take some time to build up enough work to rely on indexing as a full-time occupation.

The SI course covers advice on setting up as a freelance indexer and obtaining work, and the members’ area of the SI website also has further information which can be downloaded. The SI holds workshops on working as a freelance indexer and establishing an indexing business.

Qualified indexers are entitled to an entry in the SI annual directory, which is distributed to major publishers and other organisations and is published on the SI website.

Indexers with specialised knowledge, particularly in law, medicine or technology, are likely to have more chance of gaining contracts.

Further information

If you would like to know anything about Indexer that does not appear on Hotcourses, further information can be found below.

Society of Indexers (SI)
Woodbourn Business Centre
10 Jessell Street
S9 3HY

Book Indexing Postal Tutorials (BIPT)
(enclose SAE when writing for details)
Ann Hall
Craigbeck Farm Cottage
DG10 9QP
Tel: 07708 571548

Facts and Stats:

  • There are one million people in the sales profession, excluding retail sales

  • Half of all sales people are in business-to-business sales.

  • Until something is sold, nothing happens (think about it).
  • The sales process in company IT may take three years.

Courses to help you become a Indexer