Becoming an ICI-Certified Indexer

To become an ICI-Certified Indexer, you must (1) meet the prerequisites described below, (2) submit a completed application form, and (3) successfully pass an indexing examination in the form of an original index to a designated 250- to 300-page text.

Alternately, those indexers who have completed at least 30 indexes within the page 5 years may submit one of those indexes along with the text indexed. Submission of an application form along with the application and examination fees is also required for this path.

To ensure proper review of submitted material and the required examination, applications for certification will be capped at 40 per year.


Experienced indexers must have:

  • at least 10 years of professional indexing experience
  • at least 25 published indexes in the last 5 years

Download the application form for experienced indexers. (PDF)

Newer indexers must have:

  • at least three years of professional indexing experience
  • formal indexing training
  • 10 continuing education credits within the last three years
  • at least three indexes published in the last 12 months

Download the application form for newer indexers. (PDF)

Additional path indexers must have:

  • at least 5 years of professional indexing experience
  • completed at least 30 indexers in the past 5 years\

Download the application form for the additional path. (PDF)

Applying for Certification

Applicants for certification must complete the appropriate application form, supply all required accompanying materials and submit the form to ICI with a non-refundable application fee of $60.

Qualifying Examination

After approval of the application form and upon payment of a non-refundable $500 examination fee, ICI will provide the application with a list of approved exam texts.

Candidates may chose a text from the following topic areas:

  • Art
  • Biology
  • Biography
  • Horticulture/Gardening
  • Medicine
  • Industrial Technology

The applicant will, within three months, prepare an original index for the applicant's text of choice, using the Institute's index style guide (PDF) and following ICI's indexing best practices guide (PDF).

The completed index must be submitted in the file format used by one of the three major indexing programs: CINDEX, Macrex, or Sky Professional. If the applicant chooses to use other software, then the index must be supplied in RTF format and an additional conversion fee paid.

Those indexers choosing the additional path will submit one of their existing 30 indexes, along with a PDF of the material indexed (150 to 350 pages).

The index will be graded on an anonymous basis by two highly qualified, experienced examiners who must agree that the submitted index meets the standards for indexer certification. The decision of the examiners is final; there is no appeal process.

Written feedback on the test index strengths and weaknesses will be provided to all applicants.

Upon successful completion of the exam index, the applicant will be awarded the title of ICI-Certified Indexer and will be entitled to all of the benefits accruing with that title.

Applicants not passing the qualifying examination may choose to apply again and retake the examination after a period of 12 months from their original submission. In such cases, a different text must be chosen for indexing. There is a non-refundable application fee of $40 and a non-refundable exam fee of $450 for the retest.

Maintaining Certification

To maintain certification, indexers must complete additional appropriate training as described in the section on maintaining certification and pay a recertification fee of $150 every three years.