Job Description:

Indexers build up lists of searchable terms for things like books, magazines, reports, websites and photographic collections.

Job Category:
Government & Public Services

What you will do:

In your day-to-day duties you could:

  • study documents to get an overall idea of what they cover
  • identify important words and phrases in the text, record where they occur and put them in alphabetical order
  • identify the main topics and break them down into sections
  • cross-reference related topics
  • organise the index so that information is easy to find
  • index photographs, diagrams and other illustrations
  • use specialist computer software for sorting, formatting and printing


You’ll need:

  • to be able to use a computer and the main software packages confidently

As well as:

  • administration skills
  • a good memory
  • the ability to think clearly using logic and reasoning
  • to be thorough and pay attention to detail (organisational skills)
  • to be flexible and open to change (adaptability skills)
  • concentration skills
  • patience and the ability to remain calm in stressful situations
  • excellent verbal communication skills
Illustration of employee looking at workspace

Entry Requirements:

Becoming an indexer typically doesn’t require specific subjects, but a strong educational background and certain skills can be beneficial for this role. Indexers are responsible for creating indexes for books, documents, or digital content to help readers locate information efficiently. Here are some general subjects and steps to consider if you want to pursue a career as an indexer:

  1. English: Strong language skills are crucial for an indexer. English can help you develop excellent grammar, punctuation, and writing skills.
  2. Mathematics: While not directly related, basic math skills can be useful for organizing and structuring information logically.
  3. Information Technology (IT) or Computer Science: Familiarity with computer software and database tools is essential, as many indexing tasks are now performed electronically.

Post School

You can get into this job through:

  • a university course
  • a college course
  • an apprenticeship
  • applying directly
  • specialist training with a professional body


If you want to work in a specialist area, like science or law, you’ll need in-depth subject knowledge, which you could get from doing a relevant degree.


You could do a Management and Administration course which may give you some of the skills and knowledge needed for assistant or trainee indexer roles.


You may be able to start by doing a library, information and archive services advanced apprenticeship.

Direct Application

You can apply directly for jobs. Many indexers have a higher education qualification like a degree, although this is not essential.

Often, indexers start this work as a second career, using the experience and in-depth knowledge they’ve built up from their main area of work.

Other Routes

You can do a training course with the Society of Indexers by distance learning. This is a combination of online tutorials, assignments and assessments.

The course takes around 45 to 50 hours of study and is recognised by the Chartered Institute of Library and Information Professionals. It includes:

  • indexing terminology
  • cross-referencing
  • indexing books, periodicals and websites
  • computerised search systems

When you’ve successfully completed the course you’ll be awarded accredited indexer status, which is recognised by employers as a first stage towards becoming a professional indexer.

Working Hours and Environment:

A typical week consists of 38-40 hours of work. You could be required to work freelance or be self-employed as customers demand.

You could work from home or in an office.

Career Path & Progression:

You could combine indexing with related areas such as proofreading and copywriting.