Indexing Society of Canada congratulates winner of 2019 Purple Pen Competition

Photo of Vivian UngerToronto: The Indexing Society of Canada / Société canadienne d’indexation (ISC/SCI) is proud to recognize one of its members, Vivian Unger, for winning the 2019 Purple Pen Competition.

“This is such a wonderful accomplishment for Vivian, and on behalf of the Indexing Society of Canada, I offer my wholehearted congratulations,” said Alexandra Peace, President of ISC/SCI. “This award is a testament to Vivian’s great work, and a validation of the value that a professional indexer brings to each book. I encourage all ISC members to consider entering future competitions.”

The Institute of Certified Indexers issued the following announcement of Vivian’s accomplishment:

“Vivian Unger, of New Brunswick and a member of the Indexing Society of Canada, has won the 2019 Purple Pen Competition sponsored by the Institute of Certified Indexers. Her index appears in the book Too Dumb for Democracy?: Why We Make Bad Political Decisions and How We Can Make Better Ones by David Moscrop (published in March 2019 by Goose Lane Editions). She wrote a 10-page index for this 240-page political commentary, and the judges found her work to capture the author’s main themes and show a good web of terminology including many helpful cross-references and buzzwords from the field and author’s text.

The author, David Moscrop, wrote, “A book’s index is essential. A good index can make the difference between a volume being useful for accessing or sharing knowledge and being a frustrating experience of searching for your keys in the dark. Vivian’s index of Too Dumb for Democracy? is excellent. She broke down a complex subject into its essential parts and helped make the book accessible and, above all, useful.”

The production editor, Alan Shepherd of Goose Lane Editions, commented, “I’m thrilled for Vivian and hope that this award will allow her to grow her career and client base. The Press was delighted with the index that she produced for our book, Too Dumb for Democracy? Vivian’s index covers both people and events as well as abstract concepts and technical political language. She was able to quickly absorb and synthesize the ideas in the book and delivered a sterling index right on schedule.”

Vivian, who holds a B.A. from McGill University (major: CompSci, minor: Classics), completed the University of California, Berkeley, course “Indexing: Theory and Application” in 2017. She is the fourth Canadian to win the Purple Pen competition in its six-year history. Former winners include Stephen Ullstom (2014), Frances Curry (2015), and Sergey Lobachev (2017).

Vivian says that she landed her first professional indexing project in early 2018, a scholarly work on Cubist and Futurist art. Since then, she has indexed feminist history and biography. She hopes to index more political books in the future and to expand into the fields of science and technology. She serves on the national council of Fair Vote Canada, an organization that advocates for replacing Canada’s current voting system with a proportional representation system. She wrote, “Juggling the demands of electoral reform activism and an indexing career can be challenging. However, I believe this interest makes me well suited to work in the field of political science. I was therefore happy for the opportunity to index David Moscrop’s book Too Dumb for Democracy?”

All entrants receive a detailed feedback scoresheet that combines the comments from three judges. The judging is done anonymously by members of the Institute of Certified Indexers (ICI).  The winner receives a check for $100 USD as well as the publicity of appearing on the ICI website: and notification to the book’s publisher and author. This honor also helps the new indexer in terms of building confidence and gaining career satisfaction. The members of ICI all endorse this as a successful way to mentor new indexers who benefit from a detailed review of their work. New indexers should watch for the announcement of the 2020 competition in late spring/early summer 2020.”

The Indexing Society of Canada | Société canadienne d’indexation (ISC/SCI) is Canada’s professional society of indexers. Our mission is to encourage the production and use of indexes, promote the recognition of indexers, improve indexing techniques, and foster communication among individual indexers across Canada. Our vision is “Accessible information; informed people.” Learn more at