Ruth Martin Wins 2021 Purple Pen Indexing Contest for Best New Indexer

Ruth Martin picture       Cover of All Manner of Ingenuity book

The Institute of Certified Indexers (ICI) is pleased to announce that Ruth Martin, a member of the UK Society of Indexers, has been awarded first place in the seventh annual competition for new indexers. The entrants are all indexers who have recently completed an indexing training course. The back-of the-book indexes that they submit for the anonymous judging are ones that will appear in publication. All entrants receive detailed written feedback on their indexes. This year the winner received not only the monetary prize of $100 USD but also a one-hour virtual session with the judges to review her index and receive other advice about the work and career of a professional indexer.


Like many indexers, Ruth came to back-of-the-book indexing after starting work in a different capacity. She graduated with a degree in English literature from the University of Oxford, and subsequently held positions as a law librarian and as an information manager at a healthcare publisher. Part of her work responsibility involved writing abstracts and index entries for journal articles in Thomson ReutersLegal Journals Index. She gave up her salaried role to become a full-time self-employed journals indexer, a decision which allowed her to move to France with her family. She then pursued work as a book indexer from Oxford University Press (OUP) and completed the UK Society of Indexers training course.


The book for which she submitted the index is All manner of ingenuity and industry: A bio-bibliography of Dr Thomas Willis (1621-1675) by Alastair Compston (published by Oxford University Press). She was hired for the job by Julia Turner of Newgen, a packager that OUP uses to handle many parts of its publishing process including indexing. Therefore, she did not have direct contact with the author, but was able to ask questions through Julia as an intermediary. However, the author was very supportive of Ruth and gave her a printed acknowledgment in the book's introduction.


ICI contacted Professor Compston to inform him of Julia’s award, and he graciously wrote back:

I am delighted to learn that Ruth Martin has received this award. For a book with many recurring themes supported by a large number of facts and reference to individuals, it was important to have an accurate and comprehensive index. On receiving the draft, I was immediately reassured that Ruth had scrutinized the text with considerable attention to detail creating an imaginative, usable, and extensive guide to the contents. She also alerted me to inconsistencies and ambiguities in the narrative all of which improved the printed version. It was a pleasure to work with Ruth, and many other authors will benefit from her work in the future.


The annual Purple Pen Competition for New Indexers is an international competition for indexers of publications in English. Past winners include members of the American Society for Indexing and the Indexing Society of Canada. Ruth is the first winner from the UK Society.


Previous winners include:

  • 2014 -- Stephen Ullstrom
  • 2015 -- Frances Curry
  • 2016 -- Sam Arnold-Boyd
  • 2017 -- Sergey Lobachev
  • 2018 -- Shannon Li
  • 2019 -- Vivian Unger
  • 2020 -- Jess Klaasen-Wright

Chitra Karunanayake Becomes Latest Certified Indexer

The Institute of Certified Indexers is pleased to welcome Chitra Karunanayake to its ranks. Chitra currently works as the Library Manager of Geoff Marel Library, Concord Repatriation General Hospital, Sydney, Australia. She is a part-time indexer and a member of the Australian and New Zealand Society of Indexers (ANZSI).


Find a more complete biography here.

Why Use an ICI-Certified Indexer?

ICI-Certified Indexers have:

  • had their work and experience reviewed by an independent body (ICI)
  • completed and successfully passed a rigorous examination (preparation of a test index on a complex 250- to 300-page text)
  • demonstrated knowledge of and adherence to indexing best practices (PDF).

ICI-Certified Indexers are committed to continuing education and must be recertified every three years.


While certification is not a guarantee that every ICI-Certified Indexer will produce an exemplary index in every circumstance, ICI-Certified Indexers are individuals who are devoted to quality in indexing and strive to meet and exceed client needs at every opportunity.


By using ICI-Certified Indexers, editors, authors, and publishers help ensure that the indexes produced for them will be of the highest possible quality.


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