September 2009

Kate Mertes

September 2009

We’re coming up on Labor Day, and the summer is winding down. Fran Lennie tells me she soon expects to put out the Call for Papers for ASI’s 2010 conference in Minneapolis. The conference theme, in honor of its Midwest location and its aim of providing a core of indexing information, will be Indexing Central. A number of workshops and seminars are already confirmed, as well as the keynote speaker. Watch for more details coming soon.
Meanwhile, I’m feeling a bit like indexing central myself. After a quiet summer it seems like every publisher in the America has suddenly woken up and started asking indexing questions. Here’s an interesting one:
Bis and Ter: An editor at the University of Florida asked me about these abbreviations, provided in an index by a British indexer, with the following explanation: "...bis is...a term appearing twice on a page. If three times I would use ter. If not your current notation then an introductory note is recommended. It is in the International Standard for Indexing ISO 999 and I am sure American Society of Indexers (ASI) use it." (Neither I nor the editor could find bis or ter in the index to CMOS 15, but I haven’t searched it exhaustively.) I told the editor that ASI has not ratified either the ISO or NISO indexing standards, and that few indexers use bis or ter these days, or passim, or even et seq. Most readers don’t understand them, let alone find them useful. What do you think? Should we bring back these Latin tags, are we better off without them? (And what about five or six distinct references on the page of, say, an art catalogue—I’m working on one now with at least that many to Cézanne in an article on Gauguin. Quint or sext?)
New ASI books: Enid Zafran, our publications chair, tells me she has recently received the official copies of Starting an Indexing Business, 4th edition. The editors are Enid L. Zafran and Joan Shapiro, and contributors include Fred Leise, Pilar Wyman, Christine Michaud, Melanie Krueger, and Fran Lennie (in addition to Joan and Enid). This edition has some new features that will be of interest to those who have been in the indexing field for a while, as well as to newbies; for example, a sample letter agreement, an article about packagers, and an article on the various types of liability and risk that indexers may encounter. The 3rd edition was a perennial best seller for ASI and ITI, and I am sure the 4th edition will continue this streak.
Volume 2 of Index It Right! has been sent to our publisher, ITI, and we anticipate publication before the end of the year. This volume will include articles on databases, embedding techniques, locators, naval and military texts, public policy books, subheadings, taxonomies and thesauri, technical writing, and textbooks.
Finally, Enid has just signed up Ruth Pincoe of the Canadian indexing society to co-author a book on cross-references. Ruth gave a delightful talk in Toronto on this topic. Ruth will be presenting a talk on the same topic at our Minneapolis conference; the book is slated to come out in 2011.
I know many of our members have writing experience and skills. In particular, we are thinking that we should develop an article on ASI for Wikipedia. If you’d be interested in working on such an article, or have other ideas about possible publishing sources, Please contact me at, or Cheryl Landes (electronic presence subcommittee chair, and herself an accomplished profession writer) at
Opportunities With STC: Beginning in September, STC will offer four

online certificate
courses in

technical communications. The courses are divided into 90-minute sessions and presented live online over five to eight weeks. Individual sessions may also be purchased without a certificate. STC

certificate programs

let you explore a subject in depth over the course of several weeks. In addition to the practical work skills that you will develop, participating in a certificate program provides you with a unique live opportunity to learn directly from an instructor and to also exchange ideas and tools virtually with the other participants in the program. You can find out more about these courses by going to If you are interested, ASI is exploring the possibility of sharing reciprocal member benefits with STC, and you may be able to enroll in the courses at the STC member rates; contact Lloyd Tucker at to inquire about this.
STC's Technical Communication Summit 2010 will be held 2–5 May 2010 at the Hyatt Regency Dallas at Reunion, in Dallas, TX. The 2010 Summit Call for Proposals is now open at Proposals may be submitted and updated online until 10:00 AM ET, Monday, 5 October. Should you have questions about your proposal content or format, contact a Track Manager (contact information may be found in the call for proposals link). For general information or questions about the system, please contact Lloyd Tucker, Director of


and Membership, at
ASI Marketing and Publicity Efforts: Leoni McVey, chair of our Industry Presence Marketing subcommittee, has written a report on her efforts to send representatives to the exhibits segments of publishing-related national and regional conferences involving authors and publishers. Freelancers often attend these exhibits to introduce themselves to potential clients; individual indexers can follow the same procedures but introduce ASI as an organization at the same time. By getting local indexers to attend national and regional conferences we create ASI visibility and also give local indexers a chance to expand their own business contacts. To date, indexers have attended BookExpo America (the American Booksellers Association [ABA] annual conference, now run by a separate organization) in New York City, and the American Library Association (ALA) meeting in Chicago, to test this process. The Web site lists many organizations worth exploring for opportunities to distribute information on the profession of indexing and on ASI. Leoni would love to hear from ASI members who are interested in attending meetings ( You can read more about this ASI campaign in the next issue of Key Words.
Free Indexing Webinar: Sue Heim, Lead Technical Writer for PGP Corporation, will present a free indexing webinar entitled “Indexing Boot Camp: How to take control of your projects and still meet your deadline,” on Tuesday, September 29, 2009, at 9–10 a.m. Pacific time. Sue will cover tips for indexing online documents. Included is an overview of an index—what it is and what it isn't, the different types and styles of indexes, and why an index is important. Learn how to improve your online documents in one hour! Find more information at
SIC Codes for Indexers: An ASI member recently came to us with a conundrum: what is the most appropriate Standard Industrial Classification (SIC) code for indexers? Most of the time we never have to even think about this, but in some states you must provide an SIC code for certain things. In some cases that includes


for health insurance, and health insurance rates are affected by the claims record for one’s industry. So which SIC code you pick can really affect your health care costs. Problem is, there is no clear category into which indexers fit. While there are separate codes for bottle sorters and aquarium designers, there’s nothing for editors or general publishing services (don’t go with the printing and publishing code—printers have a long accident record because of their equipment). The indexer in question eventually went with SIC code 8999, "Services Not Elsewhere Classified." That code covers information providers, including freelance authors, artists, and "related technical services." Fortunately, the claims rating for 8999 is 5% below the normal rate.
And finally, The ASI Salary Survey has been sent out to ASI members. Look for it in your email boxes! Remember, this is the best way we have to collect detailed information about the indexing profession, so please take the survey—it is simple and confidential. After it was distributed, we discovered that question #7 asks you to check all the internet advertising outlets you use, yet the survey only allows you to check one. Rather than issuing a new survey, which would mean the loss of all the responses already received, we ask that you use the “Other” comments box to list additional outlets if you use more than one. We appreciate your understanding.
Kate Mertes President, ASI