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About Indexing

“The chief purpose of an index is distillation, and in performing that task it can manage to suggest a life’s incongruities with a concision that the most powerful biographical stylist will have trouble matching.”
– Thomas Mallon, New York Times, 10 March 1991 (from the ASI website)

Indexing is a form of research, a way of collecting and organizing information so that it is easily accessible the next time it’s needed. It involves identifying the red threads in a text, and following them in and out of the weave of writing.

A good indexer, therefore, needs to be able to judge what will be most important and helpful to the reader of the text.  In scholarly writing, this may include definitions, scholars’ names, theories, methodologies, and certain terms. It will also include common synonyms for those terms, since not every reader approaches a text with the same mental lexicon. Each index is unique, following the author’s intention and the needs of the prospective audience. It takes a certain familiarity with research and with scholarly writing both to follow a writer’s arguments and to anticipate a reader’s needs. Every scholar has come across bad indexes, and had the experience of knowing roughly where a books deals with a certain topic, only to find the index gives no practical help in locating the relevant pages again.

This is, in part, why Hiraeth Indexing came into being: to provide easy-to-use, research-oriented indexes for scholarly texts. I have research experience in philosophy, history, religion, environmental studies, sociology, and literature and literary criticism, as well as a passion for the craft of indexing.

Please contact Hiraeth Indexing today at k.f.wolfe@gmail.com.

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