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Conference 2021

mug, notepad, pen and headphones

The Society of Indexers’ annual conference was held online for the first time on 9th and 10th November 2021. More than seventy indexers Zoomed in, including delegates from SI and sister organizations in Europe and North America.

A Wakelet summary of social media from the conference is available here.

Here is a snapshot highlight from each day:

The keynote presentation was on the newly published book, Index, a History of the. Author Dennis Duncan was joined as co-presenter by the book’s indexer, SI member Paula Clarke Bain. Dennis described how he formed the idea for the book, and how it morphed from an academic book to one which was to be aimed at the general public and a wider market. It was fascinating to hear how they collaborated on the index, especially how Paula was given license to include jokes, word ladders, anagrams, acrostics (and more), all of which were retained by Dennis and the publisher. Index, a history of the has received favourable attention in the press since publication, and Dennis Duncan has been honoured by the Society of Indexers with lifetime honorary membership.

Paula Clarke Bain (PCB) has included jokes and messages in the index of Dennis Duncan's Index, A History of the
Paula Clarke Bain (PCB) has included jokes and messages in the index of Dennis Duncan’s Index, A History of the

On day two, a session on Indexing the Metatopic was delivered by SI member Melanie Gee. She combined a review of literature on current practice with a survey of SI members to provide some enlightening insights. First, Mel looked at how the metatopic has been defined as the main topic/major topic/running theme of a book. Sometimes a book has a single metatopic, often there are multiple or multi-faceted metatopics, occasionally it is nebulous or absent. Mel showed us a variety of indexes submitted by SI members and summarized a range of approaches from minimal treatment to fuller treatment, and a ‘heading clusters’ approach. She discussed when and how indexers decide what their approach should be, and the extent that qualifiers and cross-references should be used in different contexts.

Alongside these and other informative sessions on software, indexing techniques, and running a freelance business, there was useful social time spent in breakout rooms meeting other indexers. It will be good to meet again in person soon, but in the meantime, the online conference was the next-best way to meet and share with colleagues.