5 benefits of hiring professional book indexing services

The world of self-publishing is very competitive, and crafting a high-quality manuscript is just the first step toward success. To stand out, non-fiction authors must ensure their books are well-written, organised and reader-friendly. This is where professional book indexing services come in. These services elevate the quality of your book, enhance reader engagement, provide easy access to information, boost credibility and professionalism and ensure your manuscript meets the set standards of publishers. This post highlights the main features of professional indexing while explaining the benefits of professional indexing to your manuscripts in detail.

What are the must-know features of book indexing services?

Hiring a professional indexer will contribute to creating a structured and accessible index for your manuscript. The features of professionally built indexes include the following:

  • cross-referencing and different access routes to information,
  • using terminology consistent with the manuscript,
  • accurate and unbiased access to information,
  • abiding by indexing standards,
  • clearly structured and user-friendly access to information.

These key features combine to produce a high-quality index that ensures readers can effortlessly retrieve as much information as possible regardless of their varying levels of knowledge and familiarity with the text.

The 5 benefits of hiring professional book indexing services for your manuscript

1. Improved quality of the book

The expert indexer’s role in enhancing the book’s quality extends beyond ensuring easy navigation and access to information. Their services prioritise comprehensive indexing, ensuring that all essential topics, references and concepts within the manuscript are covered. Consistency in terminology maintains clarity and prevents reader confusion when referring to related topics and terms. Clear and descriptive subheadings categorise the indexed content, facilitating efficient information retrieval for readers. Additionally, cross-referencing allows for a seamless exploration of interconnected ideas and themes, enhancing the book’s overall coherence and the reader’s experience. Thorough quality checks ensure the accuracy and precision of the index, aligning it seamlessly with the book’s intended message. By focusing on these aspects, professional book indexing services improve the book’s quality, transforming it into a valuable and compelling resource for readers.

2. Enhanced reader engagement

Hiring professional book indexing services for your manuscript leads to enhanced reader engagement. A well-structured index lets readers quickly find relevant information, encouraging them to deeply explore the book’s insights and ideas. The index keeps readers immersed in the content, making the reading experience enjoyable and enriching. With improved reader engagement, your book becomes compelling and captivating, leaving a lasting impact on your audience. Furthermore, the presence of an index in the book is also a clear sign that the book is intended for more than one-time use. Indexes offer the reader access to all information in the book despite their changing interests or needs for information.

3. Easy access for readers unfamiliar with the book

Taking on professional book indexing services ensures easy access to the information enclosed in the book, even for those who have not read it. A well-structured index provides a quick overview of the book’s key topics, concepts and references, allowing potential readers to gain insights without reading the entire manuscript. By offering a glimpse of the book’s content through the index, it grabs the attention of potential buyers and serves as a valuable marketing tool. Easy access to information attracts new readers, expands the book’s reach and increases sales and engagement. This accessibility reinforces the book’s value and appeal, making it an indispensable resource for readers and establishing the author as a reputable authority in their field. The same goes for academic readers such as scholars, researchers or university students who may use the book to retrieve specific information without reading the rest of the content.

4. Higher credibility and professionalism

Certified book indexing services contribute to the higher credibility and professionalism of the book. A carefully crafted index reflects the author’s commitment to presenting their work with precision and attention to detail. By adhering to industry standards and best practices, the index showcases the book’s reliability and credibility, instilling confidence in readers and reviewers.

5. Meeting the requirements of the publishers

Professional book indexing services play an essential role in preparing the book to meet publishers’ requirements. Most publishers have strict guidelines and standards for book indexing, which are necessary for a successful publication. Thus, authors should consider hiring expert indexers to ensure their manuscript’s index adheres to these criteria. A well-structured index showcases the author’s proficiency and demonstrates their commitment to meet the publisher’s expectations.

Furthermore, book indexing services increase the chances of securing a publishing deal by providing a comprehensive and accurately indexed manuscript. Publishers appreciate the value of a professionally crafted index as it enhances the book’s usability and reader experience. Meeting publisher requirements also speeds up the review and acceptance process, streamlining the path to publication.

Experienced book indexers understand the significance of aligning the index with publisher guidelines. They ensure that the manuscript gains a competitive edge, making it attractive to publishers and increasing the likelihood of its acceptance in the highly competitive publishing industry. Here are some essential publisher indexing requirements that professional book indexing services adhere to:

Comprehensive coverage

Publishers expect the index to encompass all key topics, references and concepts explored in the book. Professional book indexers first review the content to ensure that every crucial aspect is included, only then proceeding to create a comprehensive index that leaves no valuable information overlooked.

Alphabetical order

Publishers prefer the index to be arranged alphabetically, enabling readers to locate information quickly and intuitively. However, it is not as straightforward as it sounds. Some publishers may prefer word-by-word alphabetical order, while others — letter-by-letter. In any case, professional book indexers ensure that all entries are carefully organised in alphabetical order, enhancing the index’s usability.

Accurate page numbers

Precision is paramount in book indexing, and publishers insist on accurate page numbers for each entry. Accredited book indexers cross-verify and double-check every page reference, leaving no room for errors that could hinder readers’ access to knowledge.

Consistent terminology

To maintain clarity and coherence, publishers expect consistent terminology throughout the index. Expert book indexing services ensure that key terms and concepts are referred to consistently in line with the vocabulary used by the book, promoting seamless navigation for readers.

Subheadings for clarity

Employing clear and descriptive subheadings aids readers in finding specific information more efficiently, enhancing the overall user experience. However, publishers may require different levels of subheadings to further categorise entries in the index. This may include one or two levels of subheadings listed under the main entry.

Concise yet comprehensive

Publishers often specify a desired index length relative to the book’s total page count. For instance, one of the leading indexing authorities, Nancy Mulvany, recommends the following percentage of index pages and entries per page of the manuscript:

Type of bookPercentage of index pagesEntries per page
Mass-market trade books with light text and heavy on details2–53–5
General reference books, such as university handbooks, medical texts, cookbooks or scholarly texts7–86–8
Technical documentation, general end-user manuals, policy and procedure manuals and training manuals108–10
More advanced technical manuals, codes and regulations, corporate bylaws, service and repair manuals, system manuals15+10+
Source: Nancy C. Mulvany, Indexing Books, 2nd ed., (Chicago and London: Chicago University Press, 2005), 72.

For instance, Mulvany’s book, Indexing Books, has 271 pages, and the index spans 8 pages, roughly equating to 10% of the book’s page count. This illustrates that striking the right balance between conciseness and comprehensiveness is crucial, and qualified indexers ensure that the index captures all essential information while staying within the specified length.

How to find professional book indexing services?

Reputable publishers usually either commission professional indexers to create indexes for the books they publish or recommend the authors hire professional indexers. But who are professional indexers? Most likely, they are a member of a trade organisation for indexers, such as:

Membership in one of these professional bodies offers a peer network and training, allowing the indexers to keep up with their professional development. Furthermore, it requires the members to abide by the code of conduct, which ensures the indexers conduct their work in line with ethical and qualitative standards.


Hiring professional book indexing services ensures readers can easily navigate your book, unlocking its treasures. Moreover, the index is a gateway for potential readers, drawing them in with enticing glimpses of your book’s content, leading to increased interest and broader readership. Beyond reader engagement, professional book indexing services instil a sense of professionalism and credibility in your manuscript. By thoroughly organising your content, you showcase your dedication to excellence, leaving a positive impression on publishers and literary agents. The enhanced professionalism increases your chances of securing publishing deals and opens doors to various opportunities in the publishing world. Thus, investing in professional book indexing services is an investment in the growth and success of your book.

Contact me for professional indexing services to ensure your manuscript includes a practical and user-friendly index. You can also ask me for a free sample index (and remember to use my early bird discount). If you want to hear more from me, including self-editing and writing tips, follow me on MastodonTwitter, Facebook and LinkedIn or join my newsletter.

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I am an editor, indexer and a lifelong lover of literature with a PhD in literary history. I am an Intermediate Member of the Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading, a student member of the Society of Indexers and a vetted partner of the Alliance of Independent Authors.