When we create books for our clients, one of the big discussions… after colour and format and whether to include a dust cover… is whether or not to have the book indexed.
An index is optional but recommended, especially in books where both genealogy and family stories are included. There can be a lot of names and duplication of names. Having an index of names, places and key events makes it really simple to enjoy the book as a reference or family resource as well as a beautiful keepsake. The book is indexed after it has been completely laid out and the page numbers will not shift.
Indexing is a skill that I’ve learned a lot about over the past few years. That indexers are detail-orientated is an understatement and while there are tools to make the process somewhat faster, it’s still a human eye (especially when it comes to distinguishing members of the same family with the same name) that needs to ensure the job is done right.
There is definitely a time and a place for an index. We would not necessarily want one if the book was a more personal collection of stories, and it does give any book a more “academic” feel, it also adds several pages to the length of a book in total and impacts the overall budget. Thinking about who will read the book and how it will be used usually answer the question of whether an index is needed or not.