The ISC/SCI will not be presenting the Ewart-Daveluy Indexing Award this year. While the committee is pleased with the number of submissions and the diversity of trade and scholarly books, we agreed unanimously that none of the indexes reach the level of excellence that merits the award.
All of the indexes do some things well. Specifically, most of the indexes are clearly structured and easy to navigate, include multiple and relevant access points, are clearly worded, and accurately map the contents of the text. These are qualities we expect in all professional indexes. All of these criteria and more are listed on the ISC/SCI website.
What we are looking for is that elusive quality of elegance. Elegance is that sense that there is an unusual clarity, a memorable ease of use, a succinctness, or even a strikingly simple presentation of difficult ideas. Another view of indexing elegance appears in the criteria for the ASI Excellence in Indexing Award: “Succinctness; the right word in the right place—even if the word isn’t found in the text; a certain ‘charm’; visual appeal; a sense that the index contains exactly what it needs to, no more, no less; simplicity; grace.”
We encourage indexers to strive for elegance. Take the extra time to go over the index once more. Tighten up the phrasing; search for the precise word, and imagine what readers might look for that you have not included. The index does not need to be perfect, but it does need to stand out. Give your index that final polish to make it shine!
Next year we will begin again to look for an elegant index. As you write indexes this year, look for that index that is almost there, the one that needs a bit more care, and then consider giving it the extra polish so that you can send it when submissions open in the fall.
Thank you to those who submitted indexes. As mentioned in the submission form, we will send summaries of our comments and suggestions.