Manuscript Preparation, Copyediting, and Proofreading

Q. One of our publishers wants to prepare the index for a book from the terms the author has provided before the copyediting is done. This is quite unusual considering the revisions the book will go through at later stages that will affect the page numbers. More importantly, what if some of the terms are edited or deleted during copyediting? What do you think we should tell them?

A. Tell them what you’ve told us. It’s unwise to prepare an index until the book pagination is set in stone. The amount of checking and editing needed to finalize the index after pagination would be nearly as much work as the initial preparation of the index. I suggest you point them to The Chicago Manual of Style 16.102: “For a printed work, the indexer must have in hand a clean and complete set of proofs before beginning to index. . . . For a journal volume, the work may begin when the first issue to be indexed has been paginated.” The terms your writer compiled may be useful in preparing the index, but the actual work should wait.