Indexing Guidelines for Authors

This document provides information and support for Wiley authors indexing their own titles.

However, if you can no longer prepare an index, to avoid publication delay, contact Wiley immediately to discuss alternate indexing options. These may include professional index preparation to be charged against future royalties.

What type of index should I provide?

  • Wiley’s standard requirement is a single, combined index of subjects and names. Author names are indexed only where substantive in-text discussion of the author or his/her work is found.
  • Specialized indexes of other topics, such as genera and species, geographical names (gazetteer), drug names, organic compounds, formulae, cases and statutes, or poetry first lines may be provided, after discussion and approval from your Wiley contact.

When and how do I index?

Indexing can be done at time of manuscript submission using Word or LaTeX tools:

  1. From manuscript using Word’s index function
    • Let your Wiley contact know that you are going to use this function to compile an index.
  2. From the manuscript using LaTeX’s index function
    • Let your Wiley contact know that you are going to use this function to compile an index.

Or when you have the page proofs:

  1. From PDFs of proofs manually
    • Prepared from the first page proofs.
  2. From PDFs of proofs using specialized indexing software

How long should my index be?

  • Your Wiley contact will calculate the number of index entries required.
  • Please ensure your Wiley contact has provided the number of entries before you begin indexing.

How long do I have to provide a finished index at page proof stage?

  • Usually two to three weeks from receipt of page proofs. A serious delay in publication may result from a late-arriving index.
  • Adequate index preparation requires 10–15 hours per 100 typeset pages. For example, a 300-page book will require 30–45 hours of preparation. Please plan for sufficient indexing time.

Summary of how to index (if not using Word index functionality at manuscript preparation stage)

  • Make a list of terms to appear.
  • Separate these terms into main entries and subentries.
  • Add the page numbers for every meaningful reference to a selected term.
  • Alphabetize all main entries and main words of subentries. Prepositions and articles are not part of alphabetization.
  • Eliminate duplicate entries, combine similar entries (e.g. singular and plural forms of same term), and provide cross-references.
  • Identify patterns that can be developed further (in the structure of entries, in the type of cross-references).
  • Correct any residual typos or stylistic mismatches between the index and the final text of your book.
  • Check that all “see” and “see also” cross-references point to a valid entry and use the exact wording and spelling of that entry.
  • List entry page numbers in numerical order.

Submission (if not using Word index functionality at manuscript preparation stage)

  • Single-space the index, leaving an extra line space between each letter of the alphabet.
  • Email the index manuscript file to your Wiley contact according to the schedule provided.
  • A PDF version of your index is not necessary unless it contains any special characters which may be lost in transmission.
  • Provide a key to special characters codes that won’t display in the file.

Helpful hints

  • Put yourself in the role of reader. You know the book’s text and arguments best; however, step back slightly from the text and ask: What will your readers look for in the index?
  • Identify the most likely search terms. Consult indexes of books on similar topics to identify what is helpful and not so helpful for you as the reader of someone else’s work.
  • Provide a consistent level of indexing throughout. Don’t “over index” some parts to the exclusion of others.
  • Index all important themes and concepts including those not directly mentioned in Contents or heading structure.
  • Avoid listing every mention of proper nouns (people, places) just because they were picked up in your word search. Distinguish between passing illustrative use and substantive discussion.

Do not index

  • Contents entries.
  • Preface, unless it contains substantive information not found elsewhere in the book.
  • Contributor names, unless their other work is discussed in detail in the text.
  • Notes, unless these contain substantive information.
  • References, Further Reading, Bibliography, or Glossary.


  • Follow the same capitalization, spelling, hyphenation styles used in the text after copy-editing.
  • All index entries other than proper nouns should begin with lower-case letters
  • When different terms or spellings for the same entry are used in chapters that have been written by several authors, only one variant should be chosen and used consistently throughout.
  • Page numbers referring to figures should be italics and those referring to tables in bold with an explanation of this usage in a note at the start of the index.
  • In a student book, it may be useful to embolden the index page number that corresponds to the introduction or definition of a key concept in the main text. Explain usage in a note at the start of the index.
  • For more detailed style advice read the following sections:

Alphabetical order

  • Alphabetize consistently throughout letter by letter.
  • The letter-by-letter system ignores spaces, hyphens, and other punctuation up to any comma marking inversion of the heading. So entries are alphabetized as a single string of characters (e.g. “publications” comes before “public works”).
  • Disregard prepositions and conjunctions except when they occur in a title or compound noun (as in “signal-to-noise,” for example).
  • When an index entry consists of an adjective and a noun, alphabetic placement is determined according to the noun (e.g. reform, constitutional).
  • Mc and Mac are ordered letter by letter as they appear; de and De, van and Van are ordered under D and V respectively.
  • Alphabetize St. as Saint and U.S. as United States.
  • Entries that consist solely of numbers (e.g. 80386) are listed before the letter A.
  • Arrange single numbers as if they were spelled out alphabetically. For example, “10 Downing Street” would come after “tempest.”
  • Entries that consist of symbols are listed after the letters (but see special rules for chemical terms).


  • Cross-references within an index are used either to point the reader to further information (“see also”) or to another headword (“see”).
  • A cross-reference indicated by “see” does not also have page numbers: here “see” means that the reader will find whatever she was expecting to look up here somewhere else in the index. One use of “see” is to point from a significant subentry under one heading to a main heading in its own right. The “see” type of cross-reference is useful to link between synonyms or acronyms/abbreviations and full forms (but see “Double entries” below).
  • A cross-reference indicated by “see also” follows a set of page references or else is attached to a main heading that has subheadings. It is telling the reader that more information is available somewhere else.
  • To refer to a subentry, you can use the form “see X under Y,” where X is the subentry and Y the main entry. Alternatively, to avoid a string of cross-references, you can use a generic term (italicized), e.g., see under individual element names.

Double entries

  • Choose only one term for each concept (example: either “atomic absorption spectrometry” or “AAS”). Cross-reference the second term back to the one you have chosen using “see”. If you feel the second term should also be indexed use “see also” to refer the reader to the first indexed term as well.
  • When an entry appears in both the singular and the plural form, combine the two, add an “s” in parentheses, and alphabetize in the singular form.
  • Where there are two or more synomyms for a word, use the one the reader is most likely to look up; index the less-used word with “see” referring to the more-used word.


  • Index entries should not start with an article (e.g. “a” or “the”) or preposition (e.g. “in,” “on,” “below”).
  • Main entries should be nouns, as concrete as possible. For example, “characteristics of algae” is an acceptable topical heading in the text, but readers are not likely to look for information about algae under the abstract noun “characteristics.” The proper index entry is “algae, characteristics of.”
  • Never use an adjective as an entry. For example, the adjective “absolute” by itself is not a proper entry but “absolute humidity” could be.
  • If an unfamiliar acronym or abbreviation is used as a main entry, it should be spelled out in following parentheses, e.g. TCS (Total Conservation Solutions).
  • If you index a person, include a first name (or at least an initial) even if the text mentions only the surname (family name). Try, as far as possible, to use first names or initials consistently across the index.
  • If several entries include the same key term, make that term a main entry and adjust the individual entries as subentries.


  • Notes normally present material that is more incidental than central to the main text. They should therefore be indexed only if they contain substantive information.
  • Index references to notes should be in the form ‘96n’, where 96 is the page number.
  • Where more than one note can appear on the same page, use “n.” plus the note number (or “nn.” Plus the note numbers for multiple note citations).


  • Page numbers are listed in numerical order and are separated from their entries and each other by commas.
  • Main entries followed by a long line of page numbers will force the reader to search through many pages before finding the needed information. A good rule of thumb is to generate subentries when there are more than five page references.
  • Distinguish between continuous discussions of a subject over two or more pages (when the page reference is given as a single range: “30–36”) and discrete mentions of a subject across a passage of text (“30, 31, 36”).
  • Page ranges should always be written out in full as follows: 16–17, 23–24, 113–114, 129–130, 200–211, etc. Don’t use ‘ff.’ – give closing page numbers.
  • Note that when we typeset we will use an en-rule (–) between page ranges not a hyphen (-).
  • If you are not using a comma between each headword and its first page locator, put two character spaces there.
  • If you find that you are tempted to give a long page range (“750–805”) coinciding with a whole chapter or to use a form such as “Chapter 7 passim,” this is a good indication that you need to introduce subentries instead to break down the discussion.

Subentries and sub-subentries

  • Set out subentries using indentation (one tab) rather than running them on. This is clearer for the reader where the index is quite complex, or main entries have numerous subentries.
  • Subentries should generally also be listed in alphabetical order, ignoring initial “small” words such as “and,” “at,” “by,” “in,” “of,” and “with.” The exception to alphabetical arrangement of subentries is the chronological arrangement in history books and biographies, if it makes the development of a topic clearer to the reader.
  • You do not have to use prepositions with every subentry to show the relationship with the main entry (“at,” “in,” “on,” etc.); such prepositions are most helpful when the relationship could otherwise be ambiguous. Where you do use prepositions, be consistent across similar entries.
  • We don’t recommend you use sub-subentries. But if if you do, please set out using further indentation (two tabs).
  • Where possible make subentry structure match, e.g. if providing index entries for several politicians, index all as:

  • Politician name
    • bills passed
    • cabinet position
    • college
    • first post
    • schooldays

Chemical Terms

  • Chemical terms are first alphabetized by compound name, disregarding all prefix symbols, numbers, and letters. Ignore parentheses and brackets surrounding the word parts of the compounds. For example, 1,2-Diol is listed under D, S-Hydroxytryptamine is listed under H.
  • If the same compound is presented several times but with different prefixes, these entries should be sorted by arranging the prefixes in the following precedence: Italic letters, Greek alphabet letters, small cap letters, numbers.
  • If the same compound is presented both with and without a prefix, the compound without a prefix comes first. For example:

  • Aminoanthraquinone, 512
  • 1-Aminoanthraquinone, 514
  • 7-Aminoanthraquinone, 517

  • In the subsort of like compounds, the prefix has priority, with numbers in the body of the entry the next priority. For example:

  • 2-Methyl-1-1,3-butadiene, 998
  • 3-Methyl-1,2-butadiene, 997
  • 1-Naphtol-3-sulfonic acid, 1153
  • 1-Naphtol-4-sulfonic acid, 1128
  • 2-Naphtol-1-sulfonic acid, 1154

Further advice

You can also find useful additional information about how to index in the following online and printed content sources (listed in date order):

  • American Society for Indexing: [free].
  • Society of Indexers: [free].
  • The Chicago Manual of Style: The Essentual Guide for writers, Editors, and Publishers. 16th edn. University of Chicago Press. [behind paywall].
  • Butcher, J., 2006 Copy-Editing. 4th edn. Cambridge University Press.
  • Ritter, R. M., 2002. The Oxford Guide to Style. Oxford University Press, 2002.
  • Booth, Pat., 2001. Indexing: The Manual of Good Practice. Munich: K.G. Saur.
  • BS ISO 999:1996. Information and Documentation: Guidelines for the Content, Organization and Presentation of Indexes. [behind paywall].
  • Wellisch, H., 1995. Indexing from A to Z. 2nd edn. New York: H.W. Wilson.
  • Mulvany, Nancy C., 1994. Indexing Books. University of Chicago Press.
  • Anderson, M.D., 1985. Book Indexing. Cambridge University Press.

Page updated: 23 September 2021