How to index your book – perhaps

One to keep on file for when the time comes. I just reviewed a book and one of my main frustrations was the lack of index. A good index is a great thing!


I’ve just finished the index for my new book. It’s taken me pretty much all week to produce the index, and even then I am still not satisfied. Partly this is because I’m genuinely not sure what to select, which you might see as a mainly technical challenge. But indexing also provokes reflection on the nature of knowledge.

The technical task is straightforward enough. The proofs are currently 270 pages long; the publisher tells me that the index must take up a maximum of ten more pages, which apparently amounts to some 900 lines. My word count software tells me that I am well within this limit, but it has taken some hard choices to get there.

This is a book about work camp systems in Britain before 1939. I’ve taken a broadly sociological approach to the history of what I see as a residential pedagogic community, which means that…

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