Monday, February 12, 2007

The Most Exciting Topic Ever!!!!
Indexing

Tolkien Studies volume 4 is just about ready to go to the printer. It is perhaps our best issue, and includes a reprint of Tolkien's "The Name Nodens," a text which is oftentimes very hard to get. There are also a number of fine articles (and an article by me, also). But now it's already time to start thinking about TS 5 and 6, and Verlyn Flieger, Doug Anderson and I have been doing just that. One thing we want to have in volume 6 is a comprehensive index of the first five volumes (it would be nice to have each individual volume indexed, but, given the production schedule, it simply isn't feasible at this time). I had also thought of publishing an index in each subsequent volume (i.e., index for volume 1 in volume 2), but that rapidly gets confusing. So instead the plan is to index 1-5 and publish that index in 6.

So, in order to do this, I am getting my Wheaton Research Partners students ready to start indexing, and, as I was drawing up the guidelines for them, I realized that this little hack that I've put together might be useful for others who have to do indexing and a) can't afford professional indexing and b) don't want to develop a note-card (electronic or physical system). So here is:

Drout's Quick and Dirty Indexing System (TM).

Step 1: Make a Word file that contains your entire book. You may have to use Word's "Master Document" system to do this. That system, like most things about Word, is truly annoying, but generally it works. Hint: Do not do this until all the editing on your book is done. Otherwise you will have a data fork from hell.

Step 2: Put hidden indexing characters into your book. In Word you can do this by using the Insert menu to insert an Index and then Mark an entry (i.e., highlight the entry, then click Insert, then click Index, etc.). But there is an easier way (at least for Macintosh): highlight the word or phrase you want to index and then hit Shift+Option+Command+X. You'll get a dialogue box with the entry and you can add further customization (say you've highlighted "tradition," you can then add "in animal communication" in a subhead. You can also do cross references, etc. )

2A: Advice: There is a global command to mark all entries. Use this sparingly, as you may end up with hundreds of entries for innocuous things. The global marking command is good for proper names (generally) and other real technical terms. Otherwise you want to go more slowly and read and mark at the same time, thinking about what you are really referencing.

Step 3: Wait for the pdf of your book to come back from the printer. When it arrives, you are in the home stretch.

Step 4: The most difficult part: Make the page numbers in your word document match those of your book. You will probably have to do some messing around with section breaks and re-starting page numbers. But this is the key point, and the one that will save you lots of work. I put in manual page breaks at every real page break (tedious, but takes only about an hour for a 300-page book). Then I shrink the font down to 6 points or smaller so that every page fits completely inside my manual break. Then it's test and fiddle. But once the page numbers of the word document match the pdf from your publisher, you are set.

Step 5: Have Word compile the index. It should be perfectly keyed to the page numbers of your book (though you'll want to do some sample collation).

Step 6: Proof the Index. Invariably you will have been inconsistent about things (Dennett, Daniel vs. Dennet, Daniel C., etc). You can easily fix these manually if you read the index carefully.

Step 7: Rejoice! You're done. Send it back to the publisher and commence waiting. The Index has taken less than a week, is comprehensive and was not that terrible to do. Your publisher thinks you are a genius. Your readers thank you.

(You did remember to put your dissertation director's name in the index, didn't you? Also Norman Mailer's--he apparently always checks the index for his name).

4 comments:

Lisa Spangenberg said...

You know that that Nodons article is still the starting place? Even now? I always think of that when I read a reference regarding Tolkien lacking a background in things Celtic.

Slicer said...

Alt+Shift+X is the keyboard shortcut you mentioned for the Windows MS Word XP. Or at least it is so in the Brazilian Portuguese version.

Thanks for the hints, they'll help me a lot. Hope it works fine on your end.

Jason Fisher said...

Hey Mike. Great ideas for speeding up the indexing process! I'll have to remember those.

I had a question for you: Have you considered making a PDF of the index to Tolkien Studies available online? It's something you could keep up to date regardless of the rigors of the production schedule. And it would make the Tolkien Studies website "sticky", keeping readers coming back all the time.

squire said...

It will be fun to read the Nodens piece after reading the article on it in the Encyclopedia.

It would be nice if the editors of Tolkien Studies made a list of all the hard-to-find lesser Tolkien ephemera (early poems, essays, papers, etc.) and scheduled their re-publication over the next few years.

I'm looking forward to the new volume, as always.