So You Want to Be an Indexer

Indexing is a professional, creative, serious, enriching career with serious potential for income generation, knowledge exploration, and community improvement. As with all careers, however, not everyone has the skill or temperament required for the profession. The links below will help guide any prospective indexer through an exploration of the indexing profession.

Frequently Asked Questions

This overview of indexing and the profession asks and answers questions from “What is indexing?” to “How much are indexers paid?” This is an excellent place to start. Then take a look at our best practices and a history of information retrieval.

Courses and Seminars

If you’re serious about indexing, you’ll want to start by learning the trade. ASI offers a certificate course for members, and there are other options as well. Visit our Courses and Workshops page.

Build Your Library

There are an incredible number of books about indexing, but you might want to start with the books published by experienced indexers. From Starting an Indexing Business to Running an Indexing Business, along with specialty instruction for indexing in genealogy, history, law, medicine, psychology, and scholarly books, you’ll be learning from experienced indexing professionals. Then take a look at the ASI bulletin Key Words for the experts’ articles that best meet your needs. Finally, it is essential for professional indexers to build a personal library of outstanding reference texts. Browse our complete bibliography of indexing and index-related journals, articles, and books.

Meet Your Colleagues, In Person and Online

The best way to learn about an industry is to talk to its veterans. Learn from experienced indexers or share with other novices at events sponsored by ASI chapters and special interest groups. ASI also hosts an annual meeting and conference. In addition, you can join one of the many indexing electronic mailing lists.

Software for Indexers

If you’re serious about starting a business, you’ll need to explore some indexing tools. We have information about dedicated indexing tools, utilities and add-ons, and thesaurus management software, as well as a page of resources specific to database indexing.

Joining ASI

ASI is the only professional organization in the United States devoted solely to the advancement of indexing. We are the premiere destination for indexing advocacy, and membership is a smart choice for any indexer who takes the job seriously. Benefits of membership are numerous. For more information, see our membership information page or contact our office at

Advice for Aspiring Indexers
from “Louise Martin: Portrait of an Indexer,” published in the Fall 1999 issue of the Pacific Northwest Chapter News

  1. Join ASI and become active in the regional chapter.
  2. Develop a plan for learning the art of indexing, and get feedback on initial work.
  3. Taking some type of course is essential, assuming you get to create indexes and have someone critique them.
  4. Make it easy for an experienced indexer to say yes to some form of mentoring.
  5. Enclose an excellent sample index if you are truly interested in working for a particular company.
  6. Go with your strengths when creating your initial marketing strategy. There must be something in your background or approach that will make the prospective client want to take a chance on hiring you.
  7. Remember the four Ps of marketing: persistence, patience, practice, and a positive attitude.


Happy Indexing!