Most indexes were for the Microsoft Patterns and Practices team. An editor would send me a finished PDF of the manuscript (although a couple were still in production and required re-pagination) and I would send an estimate of how long a project would take. It was typically 25 pages per hour for the first pass. I would send back an RTF, usually ahead of deadline and never behind, of a publishable index and then offer to index it more deeply if they had time and budget, and usually they did. For the second pass I would look for metadata and lesser-used terminology. Many manuals have parallel chapters that describe how to do the same procedure using different languages and I would make sure that the entries for the procedures looked as similar as possible. I always sent queries about anomalies in the text along with a note about whether they impacted the index itself. I indexed books ranging from 100+ pages to 1,200+ pages. It was all done by email. My style of indexing emphasizes copious use of SEE and SEE ALSO references. The purpose of the multiple passes is to produce a usable index quickly that can then be polished if time and budget permit.
I also wrote Help File indexes, in a format called HHK. Help File indexes, by the way, are not faster.
Some companies think that software doesn't need indexes, editing, or even documentation. If you are a frustrated user who disagrees I am happy to help you.
- CEDIT 360
Aquent, Linda Werner, VentureLoop, and Sogeti, at Microsoft and Splunk
On contract to various teams, especially Patterns and Practices, Visual Studio, Encarta, Bookshelf, FlexGo, Speech Recognition, Protocols. Thirteen on-site contracts plus many more off-site
Writing and editing indexes for software manuals and on-line help files such as HHKs for CHMs
Writing style guides for other indexers on how to index foreign names
Querying inconsistencies and testing indexes for usability
Indexing and editing Encyclopedia Encarta and Microsoft Bookshelf. Writing HTML, fixing bugs, inspecting query logs to improve search results
Indexing, editing, and consolidating 17 different on-line indexes for the Visual Studio suite
Indexing over 100 books and online manuals with various tools