ASI is currently engaged in re-imagining its award program. Rather than a single award, we envision a wider set of possibilities, giving us the ability to recognize indexes that are worthy in many ways. Excellence, after all, comes in many forms, and our awards program should reflect the diversity of what we do. This represents an exciting opportunity to think creatively and broadly about both the purpose and nature of our annual indexing awards. Questions, comments, or input regarding this process may be directed to Amy Hall, Chair of the committee engaged in this work.
ASI Excellence In Indexing Award (Retired)
This award was retired in 2021. The following information is maintained for historical/reference purposes only.
The ASI/H.W. Wilson Company Indexing Award was established in 1978 to honor excellence in indexing of an English language monograph or other non-serial work published in the United States during the previous calendar year.
In 2011, the H.W. Wilson Company merged with EBSCO Publishing, who agreed to continue as sponsoring publisher of the award. EBSCO has since merged with a sister company, and the EBSCO name was retired in favor of EIS (EBSCO Information Services) and the award was renamed the ASI/EIS Publishing Award for Excellence in Indexing in late 2013. In 2016, EBSCO decided not to continue funding the award, and it was renamed the ASI Award for Excellence in Indexing.
The award’s purpose is two-fold: for indexers, to provide and publicize models of excellence in indexing; for publishers, to encourage greater recognition of the importance of quality in book indexing. It consists of two parts: a certificate and $1,000 for the indexer, and a certificate for the publisher. Should no index suitable for the award be submitted, ASI reserves the right to withhold the award.
The judges are interested in seeing indexes that address the text with high standards of index quality and are well typeset, providing the user with easy, excellent access to the material in the book. ASI Award for Excellence in Indexing books serve as models for the profession.
- Criteria for the Award
- Award Judging Process
- Frequently Asked Questions (FAQ)
- Recipients of ASI Excellence in Indexing Awards
Criteria for the ASI Excellence in Indexing Award
Succinctness; the right word in the right place—even if the word isn't found in the text; a certain "charm"; visual appeal; a sense that the index contains exactly what it needs to, no more, no less; simplicity; grace. Elegance is the quality that makes an exceptional index more than the sum of its parts.
- Does the index appropriately anticipate the needs of its users?
- Are the significant concepts indexed?
- Are there appropriate alternative terms for accessing concepts?
- Are special treatments such as italics and boldface appropriate to the complexity of the material and the needs of the user?
- Is there a headnote explaining special treatments?
- Does the format provide for ease in visually scanning the index?
- Is the phrasing of entries and subentries clear, with significant terms first and no unnecessary prepositions?
- Does the index cover the ground? Does it do so in an evenhanded fashion?
- Look up a few important topics to see if coverage is adequate.
- The index should go beyond listing the main headings in each chapter or rearranging the table of contents.
- Significant concepts should be indexed, and scattered discussions of a concept should be brought together.
- Irrelevant information, such as scene-setting material or passing mentions, should not be indexed.
- There should be no apparent indexer bias.
- Are main entries analyzed appropriately into subentries?
- Are subentries overanalyzed so that the same page numbers are repeated again and again in close proximity to one another?
- Are there strings of undifferentiated locators at an entry?
- Are the number and level of subentries appropriate to the complexity of the book?
- Is there more than one access point to significant concepts?
- The index should use the author's vocabulary but should also provide alternative terms and cross-references that will give the reader access.
- Entries should be "flipped" where necessary or appropriate.
- Are cross-references adequate and useful?
- See also references should send readers to appropriate related material. (Double-posting is preferable to See references that send the reader to an entry with very few page references.)
- There should be no misspellings or typos, no odd page ranges or references out of order.
- Alphabetization of main entries, subentries, and cross-references should be correct.
- Punctuation should be correct.
- Forms of names and terms should be correct and appropriate to the field of specialization.
- Cross-references should neither be circular nor point to missing or differently worded entries.
- "Flipped" entries should have the same page references at both locations in the index.
- Is the style consistent throughout?
- Does the style effectively resolve challenges presented by the text?
- Look at such style points as sorting order, punctuation of cross-references, leading and separator punctuation of locators, abbreviation of inclusive ranges, positioning of cross-references, run-in. vs. indented subentries, capitalization of main entries, use of alternative typefaces.
(The descriptive categories included here are freely adapted from Carolyn McGovern's "How to Evaluate Indexes." KEY WORDS 1, no. 9 (Nov/Dec 1993) pp. 1,21.)
A short-form (one-page) checklist of the criteria for the ASI Excellence in Indexing Award is available here in PDF format.
Panel of Judges
The ASI President designates the ASI Excellence in Indexing Award Committee Chair. The Committee Chair selects committee members. Appointments are generally for one year; but, to ensure continuity, the past and incoming chairs of the Committee are also invited to serve. The ASI President is a member of the panel, ex officio. The remaining three or four judges are selected from the membership of the American Society for Indexing.
The members of the Committee are chosen to represent a range of subject areas and indexing expertise. Non-voting consultants may be asked to participate in deliberations if a specialized index is under consideration and the judges need specialized expert advice.
The chair also appoints a registrar, whose job it is to receive the submitted books and check that eligibility requirements are met. The registrar also covers any references to the indexer's name, so that judging can be anonymous.
Judging is usually held on a single day about two months before the ASI annual conference; meetings of the Committee are conducted by VoIP conference call.
Books are submitted in PDF format. Each book is evaluated by all the judges, using the ASI Excellence in Indexing Award criteria. Indexes which stand out as possible winners are then thoroughly evaluated and discussed again in detail. Decisions of the Committee are generally made by consensus, and the discussion is confidential.
No indexes prepared by members of the Committee can be considered during their term of service on the panel. Judges who have knowledge of the indexer of a particular book or have another conflict of interest must recuse themselves from judging that book or participating in any discussions of it.
After judging, the winner is notified as soon as possible, and letters are sent to all submitters with a compilation of the judges' comments. Public announcement of the winner is made at the annual ASI conference.
The award-winning book, if available, is displayed at the Annual Conference and returned to the submitter afterward.
Download the FAQ File here.