Make a Career out of Putting Things in Order; in Association With

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Byline: By MICHELLE RUSHTON

What does a career in indexing involve?

As an indexer you would put together indexes for all kinds of documents to help users find the information they need easily.

You would work on documents such as books, periodicals, technical manuals, reports and websites.

Your work would typically include studying documents to get an overall idea of what they cover, identifying important words and phrases in the text, noting where they occur and putting them in alphabetical order, as well as identifying the main topics and breaking them down into sections.

You would cross-reference related topics, organising the index so that information is easy to find and indexing photographs, diagrams and other illustrations.

You would need to use specialist computer software for sorting, formatting and printing.

What personal skills do you need?

You need a good command of English, with highly accurate spelling and punctuation.

You also need to have keyboard skills and access to a computer.

You also need to be able to concentrate, work quickly and meet tight deadlines. Specialist knowledge may be needed for indexing certain subjects.

As you would usually be self-employed working from home, you need to be disciplined and prepared to work long hours.

What training do you need?

Although you do not need formal qualifications to become an indexer, you will need a good level of education, preferably to degree-level.

You can learn the principles and practice of indexing by doing the Society of Indexers (SI) distance learning course.

The course is made up of four units, each involving about 45 to 50 hours of study. You will need to be a member of the SI to take the formal tests which follow each unit of the course.

When you have successfully completed the tests you will be awarded Accredited Indexer (AI) status, which is recognised as a first stage professional indexing qualification. …