Index Your Ebook

by Nancy Humphreys on March 31, 2011

This week a client told me he was doing an ebook of his book without the index.

“But you paid me for the index.” I said, “Why not put it in your ebook?”

“Because you can’t put an index in an ebook. An ebook has no pages,” he replied.

This exchange certainly goes to show the truth of that old adage:  a little knowledge can be a dangerous thing!

How ebooks are indexed

Years ago when I first worked on web sites, I learned about anchors. An anchor is placed at the spot in a digital file where you want a hyperlink to take the reader. An anchor is actually a piece of HTML code, but web design software uses a little icon of an anchor that you can drag and drop.

To index an ebook you simply insert anchors where the page numbers would be.

Who can provide your book with an ebook?

Joshua Tallent of is the ebook formatter I recommend. Joshua has developed a method of inserting anchors for page numbers. He can quickly create links between index headings or subheadings and the page-number-anchors in the text of your ebook. He also creates links so the reader can move around within the index.

Joshua links See references from unused terms to the preferred terms used in the index. And he makes links for See also cross-references too.

In addition, Joshua  provides an Alphabet-letter-guide at the beginning of the index. The reader can use this guide to quickly get to a heading that begins with a particular letter.

This convenience saves readers time. Instead of flipping sequentially through the “pages” of your ebook’s index, the reader clicks on the initial letter of the term desired. The reader can easily click a link to go back to this initial-letter guide from anywhere in the index.

Joshua creates books in Kindle, epub and other digital formats. He is an experienced formatter who works closely with indexers.  He knows the rules  about how good indexes are formatted. And last but not least important, his prices for formatting indexes are most reasonable.

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Marketing Your Book to Libraries Marketing Your Books to Libraries: An Insider's Guide for Authors by former librarian Nancy K. Humphreys includes: 
  • How to tell what kind of library to target
  • Types of librarians and books they order
  • Strategies to get past the "gatekeepers" who influence librarians
  • Right ways to approach librarians most likely to order your book

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Peter Meyers June 2, 2011 at 3:22 pm

Hi Nancy,

Great post. I’m writing a book about all the things digital books do that can’t be done in print (“Breaking the Page”; I’m researching search tools and am looking for examples of ebooks that contain an index (either auto-generated or hand-crafted). Do you have any examples you can point me to?


Nancy Humphreys June 15, 2011 at 8:27 pm

Hello Peter! Congratulations on your new book contract! See my current post on June 15th, “How to Use an Ebook Index”.

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