To: Those interested in an indexing program
From: Barry Ames
I used Fred Hansen’s “indexer” for my book “Persuasive Peers: Social Communication and Voting in Latin America.” Co-authored with Andy Baker and Lucio Renno, this book was published by Princeton University Press in the early Fall of 2020. My experience with Fred’s program was very positive, and I am happy to endorse it for other scholars.
Indexing programs do not free the author from the most important part of the indexing task, which is the selection of terms and subterms. Prospective authors should harbor no illusions that Fred’s program or any other indexing program will eliminate the hard (and sometimes creative) work of figuring out what to index. You still have to do that.
What Fred’s program does very well is speed up the process: once you have identified a term and its subterms, the program automatically picks up all the subsequent uses of that term in your text. This saves you a lot of time, and you inevitably get a better index.
I have done indexes the old way, using index cards, on a book of similar length to my current book, and I really tried to generate a complete index with that method. By contrast, Fred’s program produced a qualitatively better index than the old manual method and saved me a lot of time.
I would have saved even more time if I had read the directions that accompany Indexer. So if you adopt this program, I would urge you to take reading the instructions seriously. If you do, you will produce an index of very high quality and economize substantially on effort.