Indexing Biographies and Other Stories of Human Lives

BookIndexing Biographies and Other Stories of Human Lives

Indexing Biographies and Other Stories of Human Lives


February 26th, 2020

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Stories of human lives can be fascinating but frequently difficult to index well. The new, updated fourth edition of Hazel K. Bell’s Indexing Biographies is a valuable guide to the points for consideration when indexing life histories, biographies, autobiographies, letters and other narrative texts.

Topics include the indexing of fiction, analysis of the text before indexing, names and their various forms, appropriate language choice for index entries, impartiality of the indexer, and how to treat main characters (through appropriate subheading structure) and minor characters (where strings of locators are sometimes unavoidable).

The book also discusses more technical matters of index layout, presentation and arrangement of entries, such as how to judge whether alphabetical, chronological, page order or thematic grouping is most appropriate for the text.

Examples of good practice and outstanding indexes are provided throughout. Lists of useful reference works and relevant articles from The Indexer journal are also suggested. There is, of course, a comprehensive index.

Indexing Biographies contains fine advice on best indexing practices for book indexers, trainee indexers, authors, publishers and all lovers of life histories. It is an excellent overview of the complex, important and rewarding task of indexing such material.

'Indexing Biographies should appeal to indexers, authors, editors, publishing professionals and lovers of life histories. In this fine new edition, Hazel K. Bell has kindly shared her considerable insight into all that goes into making a great biography index.'Paula Clarke Bain, Editing Matters, Chartered Institute of Editing and Proofreading

Author Information

Hazel K. Bell is an experienced indexer, particularly of biographies, an honours graduate in English language and literature, and a Fellow of the Society of Indexers.

Table of Contents

Table of Contents
Section TitlePagePrice
1. Narrative texts and stories of lives9
‘Soft’ texts9
The narrative form10
Sensitive content11
Political memoirs17
2. The great and good25
Indexing masterpieces25
Award winners26
Other good ’uns32
3. First read your book37
Analysis and annotation39
4. Naming names43
Alternative forms43
John Brown, meet John Brown46
Who are all these people?46
Errors and inconsistencies48
Lord, My49
5. Coming to terms: subheadings52
Qualities to aim for54
Language fit for literature56
And …57
6. The perils of partiality59
Don’t show your feelings59
Putting it nicely62
Linguistic limitation63
The constraint of standardization66
‘Have you stopped beating your wife …?’67
7. All in order: a proper arrangement68
Page order69
Chronology observed71
The alphabetical way74
8. Theme by theme76
Examples of paragraphed subheadings77
Tracing the themes81
9. Mighty main characters83
Leave it out?83
10. The works93
Listing volumes93
11. Just mentioning …98
12. Presentation and layout104
Prefatory notes104
Run-on style105
Indented style107
Typographical devices107
13. The user114
Is that me …?115
14. Fiction117
Should fiction be indexed?117
The indexer as literary critic119
Indexing the fiction of A. S. Byatt122
Novels published with indexes123