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Index Specifications and Delivery Options

North Coast Indexing Services will prepare indexes according to the style guidelines provided by publishers or authors. In the absence of established guidelines, we will work with the production editor or author to create an index that is both economical to produce and easy to use. Below are the primary options:


  • Indented – each level of the index (main entry and one or more level of subentries) appears on a separate line.  E.g. (example from Drug Abuse, edited by Justin Karr. Cengage, © 2007):

          Antidepressant drugs, 62–77
             benefits for recovery, 64–66
             dependence on, 12, 75
             side effects, 67–69
             talk therapy vs., 67, 71, 74–77
             See also

    Indented indexes are easy to read but take up more room.
  • Run-in – the main entry and related subentries run on the same line; there is only one level of subentry.  E.g. (example from Creating Minnesota: a History from the Inside Out, by Annette Atkins. Minnesota Historical Society Press, © 2007):

          African Americans: in CCC, 184, 186; in Civil War, 64,
                68–69; discrimination against,     82, 95, 215–16,
                296n24; excluded from Census, 281n20; middle-class,
                xiii, 95, 215,  296n24; migration to Minnesota, 69, 245;
                music, 166, 190; newspapers, 117; occupations, 69, 95,
                134; in politics, 248, 266, 267; social services, 109; in
                St.Paul, 95–96, 215–16, 256, 297n32; suffrage, 113;
                unemployment, 173; as "white," 60; inWorld War II,
                192, 203, 207, 296n24. See also civil rights movement;
                lynchings; slavery/slaves

    Run-in indexes save space but are less efficient to read and to locate information quickly.

Arrangement of Entries

  • Alphabetizing main entries: There are two different ways to alphabetize the main headings in an index: word-by-word or letter-by-letter.  The former is usually found in scholarly works and helps to put similar headings in line with one another.  Letter-by-letter is more common and probably more familiar to readers.  Dictionaries and telephone books are alphabetized letter-by-letter.
  • Subentry arrangement: Most of the time subentries are alphabetized the same way as the main entries.  Sometimes, such as in biographies, chronological order may be used. Other possibilities can be discussed when planning the index.

Number of Indexes:

Most books have a single index that covers the subjects and names of people and places found in the book in one alphabet.  However, multiple indexes can also be prepared.  Those might include subject, author-title, authors cited and/or place name indices.

Indexable Material:

We will evaluate how many pages in the book have indexable material, i.e., material that should be reviewed for inclusion in the index. Normally, in addition to the text itself, the introduction will be indexed as well as any footnotes or endnotes that have substantive information (information that is not found in the text and is more than a bibliographic citation).  After determining the number of indexable pages, we can establish a final cost figure for the index.

Other Considerations

North Coast will also discuss other formatting issues when planning the index. These include:

  • Cross-reference format and placement, i.e. “See” and “See also”
  • Arrangement of numbers and symbols in entries
  • Punctuation
  • Main heading capitalization
  • Is there a length limit for the index?

Delivery of Text to North Coast Indexing:

We are able to receive page proofs for the book as a pdf file, via regular mail, or by delivery from FedEx or UPS.

Delivery of Finished Index:

Most of the time, the finished index will be sent as a Word document attached to an e-mail.  However, we can also provide the finished product in hard copy or on a CD or diskette sent by overnight mail.


Denise E. Carlson
6514 Hwy. 61 East
Little Marais, MN 55614
(218) 226-3630