Becoming an indexer 4: the pre-qualification indexing assignment (PIA)

Posted on: 01/12/2023

An open book with a ribbon bookmark resting in it
[Photo credit: Photo by Ben White on Unsplash]

Once you’ve completed the training course modules and tutorials, and passed the necessary assessments, the final stage before you start your professional indexing career is to complete the pre-qualification indexing assignment, known as the PIA.

What is the PIA?

The PIA is an index to a complete book or document of your choice, of about 150-200 pages in length. You can choose a book that has no index, or has an existing index that is very limited or inadequate. You’ll compile and submit a professional index, drawing on all the knowledge and skills you have acquired during the training course. It’s an excellent opportunity to work on a full-length book and get feedback on the index you create.

When do I do it, and how long does it take?

The PIA must be completed within a year of passing the final course module and once you’ve applied for the PIA, you have two weeks to submit your finished index. This turnaround time is typical for professional indexing projects although there is no restriction on when you start the index for your PIA. It’s probably a good idea to wait until you have passed module D in order to benefit from any module D feedback.

How is my PIA evaluated?

An experienced indexer, from the Society’s panel of advisers, will be selected as your PIA adviser based on the subject of your chosen text. Once you’ve submitted your index, they will read the book and review the index you’ve created. You’ll get detailed feedback on your index, identifying your strengths as an indexer as well as areas where you need to improve as you move into professional work. Your index will not be ‘marked’ in the sense of ‘pass’ or ‘fail’. Many new indexers find their PIA report is a very useful guide and checklist during their first few professional indexing projects.

Finding out more

To learn more about the training course, visit the SI training course overview page to read more about it, see a sample of Module A, and details of the costs involved.

About the authors

Rachel Gee is the Society of Indexers’ Training Director and has been indexing professionally since 2011. Kim Birchall has been an indexer since 2008 and is the Training Course Co-ordinator. Tanya Izzard has been indexing full-time since 2017 and is the Marketing Director of SI.

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