Cheryl Lemmens Indexing and Editorial Services

Cheryl Lemmens - Indexing and Editorial Services

Book Indexing • Web Site Indexing • Editing


Web Site Indexing: Introduction

Web site indexing is a concept that is still in an evolutionary stage, even though most major sites include some sort of guide to content in the form of either a true alphabetical index or a section-by-section site map.

The explosive growth of the Internet - and the sheer immensity of material that has gone online - means that we will eventually need a way to find what's out there, whether we know what we're looking for or not. As indexer Barbara Quint noted at the American Society of Indexers annual conference in 1994:

The ocean flows of online information are all streaming together, and the access tools are becoming absolutely critical. If you don't index it, it doesn't exist. It's out there but you can't find it, so it might as well not be there.

As an editing professional who became interested in the indexing process through my work on Web sites, I can vouch for the need to apply the same meticulous organizational skills used in book indexing to material accessible on the Internet. And, indeed, some corporations, institutions, and organizations have recognized the need to provide their Web site users with real indexes. Others have gone the site map route, and should also be commended for their assistance to users.

Good news! The ASI's Web Indexing Special Interest Group (SIG) was reactivated in January 2005. It has two objectives:

• "to serve the professional interest of indexers who seek to apply their skills in traditional human indexing to the nontraditional web medium," including "the writing of alphabetical indexes for individual web sites, intranets, online periodicals, and collections of multiple web sites";

• "to inform the web design and development community of the advantages of professional web indexing."

A Web Indexing Discussion Group has been established to provide "an open forum for professional indexers who specialize in writing indexes for web sites," as well as for those "interested in learning about web indexing, and web site creators/editors interested in indexing."

The value of a traditional, back-of-the-book-style index to a Web site needs to be shown and promoted, particularly as an alternative to the ubiquitous (but often unsatisfactory) search utility.

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What you'll find here

• a list of Web site indexes I have created;
• my rates, as well as the different site index formats I can provide;
• a sample index that illustrates how I work;
• a feature article I wrote about taking back-of-the-book indexing to the Web.

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