On my desk

Space considerations

13 May 2024

A book I indexed in April has reappeared. This sometimes happens when there is a last-minute change in the book’s layout or a spontaneous addition due to a news story. In this case, the author wanted more terms included in the index. They felt, rightfully so, that the index was incomplete. And it was—not because I didn’t do my work properly, but because the publisher had placed a significant restriction on the number of lines available for the index. After receiving the book for indexing, I had made a case that there should be more space for the index based on the length of the book and the density of the text but was told none was available. I made the best use of the space available to me.

Indexing can be a balancing act when it comes to significant space restrictions. Unfortunately, in today’s publishing world, tight budgets mean tight space for indexes. Adding more pages increases printing costs. We all do our best, from the editor to the author to the book designer, to work with what we are allotted.

The editor considered the author’s concerns about the index, then figured out a way to shift some text.  Another page was now available for the index! To ensure that the author’s request was fully honored, I asked the editor to have the author prioritize the concepts or names the author wished to include in the index revision.

With the extra room, I was able to revisit the book, add additional names, and even create a few new headings with subheadings for concepts I didn’t have room to include before. This does increase the cost of the project because I charge for the time it takes me to dip back into work I completed a month ago. Another downside is the delay in getting the book to the printer. The upside, however, is increased accessibility of the book’s contents.