The Well-Chosen Word

"Choice words and measured phrase, above the reach
Of ordinary men"
- William Wordsworth

Erin Hartshorn Indexer, Copyeditor, Proofreader, Writer

Sample Indexing Contract

Frequently, rather than signing a contract, a freelancer will simply send a letter of agreement, which lays out the conditions already discussed between the freelancer and the publisher or author. The following is an example of this type of agreement.

February 29, 2000
Jane S. Doe
Production Editor
Any Publishing Co.
1357 Common Street
Anytown, CA 99999

Dear Ms. Doe :

This letter of agreement outlines my understanding of our contract for The Well-Chosen Word to index Any Generic Book, based on our recent discussion.

  1. I understand that this index is a work for hire, and I assign copyright to the material to you. I reserve the right to use an excerpt of this index for marketing purposes.
  2. I will receive the page proofs on March 5, and I agree to provide a finished index by March 15, which I will deliver by electronic mail on that date.
  3. I will receive payment of $4 per indexable page for 289 text pages for work done on this index. These pages include the main text, all photographs and illustrations, the front matter, and endnotes but not the bibliography.
    It is my understanding, based on our discussion of the text, that this is a general interest book which should require 3–5 references per page. If the text does not appear to be as represented, then I will call you to discuss revising the payment rate immediately upon receiving the proofs.

Index specifications:

  1. Your specifications for the index are to follow Chicago, 14th edition. The applicable requirements are marked on the attached "Index Style Specification Sheet." Please review these specifications and make any changes you may have on or before March 12, 2000.
  2. An introductory note for the index will be prepared, to be no more than 10 lines long. This note will include all notations used in the index, such as italics for illustrations or nfor endnotes.
  3. Number and type of indexes: one index, with subjects, places, and names of major importance.
  4. Portion of text not indexed: bibliography.

Delivery and payment:

  1. Delivery format: The Well-Chosen Word will deliver the indexes by electronic mail transfer in Rich Text Format (RTF) on March 15. A double-spaced manuscript will be sent the same day via FedEx. If you have any problems or questions, please call 610-317-2269.
  2. Payment is to be made 30% upon receipt of page proofs, 70% within 15 days of index completion (March 30). If payment is not made within 30 days, a late fee of 1.5% per month or partial month will be added to the bill.


  1. If you should decide not to pursue completion of this project for any reason, The Well-Chosen Word will invoice you for work completed to that date, at the rate outlined above. A minimum payment of 30% of the contract is required in any event.
  2. Late arrival of manuscript to The Well-Chosen Word will result in late delivery of completed index by the same number of days.
  3. Late delivery of completed manuscript to publisher will result in forfeiture of 30% of agreed upon fee by The Well-Chosen Word.

Please call if you have any questions on this letter of agreement. If this arrangement is acceptable to you, please sign below and keep a copy for yourself. This agreement will be considered binding unless notified otherwise, in writing, within five (5) business days.

Erin M. Hartshorn
The Well-Chosen Word

Understood and agreed: _____________________ (Date) ____________________

The Well-Chosen Word
Erin Hartshorn
3349 Green Meadow Drive
Bethlehem, PA 18017

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Last updated: April 18, 2019

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