The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing

Meandering musings on the comic fiction index: a peer review on Three men in a boat

The Indexer: The International Journal of Indexing (2021), 39, (3), 245–262.


The Society of Indexers recently ran a peer review exercise, via their online forum SIdeline, on indexing a section from the comic novel Three men in a boat by Jerome K. Jerome. The exercise was run by Melanie Gee and involved a group of indexers indexing the same text, looking at all the combined indexes, and discussing their thoughts on the process. Paula Clarke Bain reports on the insights and wisdom shared during these discussions, and considers the role and purpose of indexes in more unusual texts like novels and comic fiction.

Access Token
If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here


Bain, P. C. (2017) ‘Back of the book, back of the net: the comedy book indexes of Partridge and Toast’, The Indexer 35(1), 18-24. Google Scholar

Bain, P. C. (2018) ‘Strange indexes indeed: the wit of Francis Wheen as author-indexer’, The Indexer 36(2), 42-8. Google Scholar

Barlow, A. (2017) Three men in a boat, on a map, available at (accessed 30 May 2021). Google Scholar

Batchelor, J. (1989) ‘Para-index and anti-index’, The Indexer 16(3), 194. Google Scholar

Bell, H. K. (1983) ‘Brilliant creatures by Clive James’ (book review), The Indexer 13(4), 277. Google Scholar

Bell, H. K. (2007) ‘Fiction published with indexes in chronological order of publication’, The Indexer 25(3), 169-75. Google Scholar

Bell, H. K. (2020) Indexing biographies and other stories of human lives, 4th edn. Liverpool: Liverpool University Press. Google Scholar

Bradley, P. (1989) ‘Indexes to works of fiction: the views of producers and users on the need for them’, The Indexer 16(4), 239-48. Google Scholar

Duncan, D. J. B. (2014) ‘“As if we were reading a good novel”: fiction and the index from Richardson to Ballard’, The Indexer 32(1), 2-11. Google Scholar

Gee, M. (2021) ‘Indexes compared: reflections on the benefits of peer review exercises’, The Indexer 37(4), 231-44. Google Scholar

James, C. (1983) Brilliant creatures. London: Cape. Google Scholar

Jerome, J. K. (1982) Three men in a boat (to say nothing of the dog), annotated and introduced by Christopher Matthew and Benny Green (original text first published 1889). London: Pavilion Books. Google Scholar

Raven, A. (1990) ‘Indexes to works of fiction’ (letter to the editor), The Indexer 17(1), 60-1. Google Scholar

Stauber, D. M. (2004) Facing the text: content and structure in book indexing. Eugene, OR: Cedar Row Press. Google Scholar

If you have private access to this content, please log in with your username and password here


Author details

Bain, Paula Clarke