Late this summer, my co-author Clayton and I got the proofs of our manuscript (due to be published late this year) back for review. It was my job to create an index of names and titles. I have no one to blame but myself; I volunteered, thinking the task wouldn't be too difficult if we limited ourselves and didn't include concepts.
It wasn't too hard, as it turned out. I got it done in about nine hours of total work. What I didn't anticipate was that about three hours of that were spent working on the twenty pages of endnotes. Every single note -- ten or fifteen to a page -- contained nothing but names and titles, by and large, and sometimes long lists of them. I pushed through, despite the tedium, and turned in the index ahead of schedule.
Last week we heard from our editors with last-minute questions about hyphenation at line breaks and whether certain epigrams that would cost money to quote could be omitted. Among the requests was a notation that the index needed two changes. One, fictional characters' names need not be included. (Goodbye, Bickle, Travis.) And two, index entries that referred to notes should contain not only a page number but also the note number on the page, e.g., 177n13.
I got this request just as I was getting ready to start fall classes, followed by a weekend of work travel. So I responded that I would try to get them a revised index early this week. It wasn't until today, though, that I got a bit of concentrated time to work on it -- and that only after having to warn my colleagues that some of what I'd promised to do for them would have to wait until this overdue task were completed. I hope to knock this out this afternoon, I told them.
I should have remembered that three hours of original indexing. The revision is taking, if anything, even longer. In an hour and a half of steady, uninterrupted labor, I got to the end of the Gs today. The procedure is this: Note every page number in the index that is 163 (where the notes begin) or higher; go to that page on the proof PDF and look for the name or title in question; add the note number to the page number; repeat. I use Adobe Reader's jump-to-page and find functions to go to names quickly; titles are harder since they are often composed of common words and take so long to type in the search box that I might as well jump to the page and scan it. Every index datum that gets revised takes a minimum of 20 keystrokes or so. It's a slog, and I have no idea when I'm going to find another three hours or so to get it done.
If only I had known the proper formatting while doing it the first time; adding the note numbers would not have required much more effort or time than I was already putting in. I should have asked for an index style guide, but I thought I had all the knowledge I needed. Now here I am clicking, typing, reclicking, switching documents, searching, clicking, typing. Is it too late to pay a student to do this?