Creating indices by hand can be extremely time consuming. An index usually has to be made up at the very end of the production process, which can cause disruptive delays. In order to prevent this, publishers often come to us to compose a name or subject index, since we do not compose indices by hand but generate them automatically. Generating an index automatically can save authors and publishers copious amounts of work. Nevertheless, in order to achieve the desired result, it is also necessary to understand the limits of automated indices. Currently, we offer two options for generating indices automatically. The first option is for the author to provide us with a list of names or subjects so that we can mark these in the submitted text files. The second option is for the author to compose an index himself by means of the index function in Word. Below we will provide you with an overview of the advantages and disadvantages of both methods.

Composing an index by means of an index list

An index list is a list that matches search terms with index lemmas. Index lemmas refer to the exact term that will be included in the index. Search terms comprise all variations of the lemma that may occur in the text. We create our indices in the following manner:

1. First, the author composes an index list. For each lemma that he includes the author should also provide the corresponding search terms. For example, he could link the lemma ‘Aristoteles’ to the search terms ‘Aristoteles’, ‘Aristote’ and ‘Aristotle’. Accordingly, he should connect the lemma and the search terms in the index list. After we have received the index list, we check the index list for inconsistencies.

2. We then mark names or issues in the list that may create problems, such as names of people that also represent geographical locations, for example, John of Holland. Such cases are marked during the third step.

3. After we have completed step 1 and 2, we find all search terms from the index list in the text. Each search term is then marked with the corresponding index lemma.

4. We check all the terms that we marked as problematic in step 2 and try to solve them to the extent possible.

5. We remove all markings from headings and, upon request, from book and journal titles.

6. Based on the remaining markings, we generate the index and convert it to a Word-document (Upon request we can provide a set of proofs that shows all index markings).

7. The author checks our generated index and solves all remaining inconsistencies in the Word document.

8. We typeset the adjusted Word-document provided by the author.

Index of names

Generally, an index of names can easily be created on the basis of an index list which contains surnames as search terms. Bear in mind though, that our index is a concordance: we find all occurrences of a certain name.

The following is a list of inconsistencies that we can solve. If, however, we cannot solve it, we mark a case as ‘problematic’.

  • Surnames that may double as first names and medieval names (e.g. Dylan Thomas or St. Thomas);
  • Surnames that belong to different people (compare Jonathan and Julian Barnes);
  • Surnames that represent geographical locations (e.g. John of Holland)
  • Surnames that represent other objects or words (e.g. Francis Black)

Example of an index list

Locke ⇒ Locke, John
Descartes ⇒ Descartes, René
Cartesius ⇒ Descartes, René
Aristotle ⇒ Aristotle
Aristoteles ⇒ Aristotle
Thomas Aquinus ⇒ Thomas Aquinus
Aquinus ⇒ Thomas Aquinus
Thomas ⇒ • Thomas Aquinus
Jonathan Barnes ⇒ Barnes, Jonathan
Julian Barnes ⇒ Barnes, Julian
Barnes ⇒ • Jonathan Barnes | Julian Barnes
John of Holland ⇒ John of Holland
Holland ⇒ • John of Holland
Francis Black ⇒ Francis Black
Black ⇒ • Francis Black


  • Speeds up the index making process
  • The generated index is reliable
  • Less time consuming for the author


  • Surnames can be spelled in several ways; this cannot be solved through automation. The author has to indicate all ways in which the name can be spelled.
  • Higher costs

How to make an index list

Compiling an index list can still be time consuming. Fortunately, computer automation can provide relief to the author even in this aspect, if we are dealing with an index of names. We can generate a list that includes all capitalized words from the submitted documents. The author can revise this list and select only the names to be included in the index. Naturally, this service does not apply to documents written in German, since the German language capitalizes all nouns.

Index of subjects

It is impossible to generate an index of subjects by means of an index list. As with an index of names, we always create a concordance of the search terms. However, a good subject index is always selective. It is inevitable to hit terms that do not correspond with the intended lemma, such as synonyms and homonyms of the index lemma. Items that do correspond, on the other hand, may not be found due to modified index lemmas in the text.

However, our markings can still facilitate the creation of a hand composed subject register.

Generating a subject index is far more variable and complex than an index of names, since we need to create an index list of all possible search variations of the lemma. For example, when you want to include the word ‘part’ in the index, we need to add the following pairs to the index list:

Part ⇒ part
Parts ⇒ part
part ⇒ part
parts ⇒ part


  • Less time consuming
  • More efficient for the author


  • The generated index is less reliable
  • Higher costs

Marking an index in Word

The best way to create an index of names or subjects is to mark all index lemmas in the text by hand. This way all aforementioned problems such as synonyms, homonyms and variations of the lemma can be checked by the author himself.

Luckily, the index function in Word can save the author a lot of work, since this function provides the editor with the possibility to mark all search terms corresponding to a lemma at once. The author should still correct faulty markings and apply sub-lemmas by hand.

Hereafter we can easily convert the index markings in Word to a system that is legible to us. This system then automatically calculates all page references in the index.


  • The index is technically already finished at the time that we receive a draft. This prevents last-minutes delays.
  • The index is extremely reliable
  • Less costly


  • Time consuming for the author