NISO’s Updated Draft Standard on Criteria for Indexes Now Open for Public Comment

The National Information Standards Organization (NISO) announced today that the Z39.4 Criteria for Indexes Working Group has released its draft standard for public comment. It replaces the original ANSI/NISO Z39.4 standard (Guidelines for Indexes and Related Information Retrieval Devices) and is an updated and expanded version of NISO’s Guidelines for Indexes and Related Information Retrieval Devices (a technical report, TR02-1997).

This updated draft NISO Z39.4 standard provides guidelines that better meet today’s requirements for the content, organization, and presentation of indexes used for the retrieval of information, including those used for electronic searching, regardless of the type of material indexed, the indexing method used, the medium of the index, or the method of presentation for searching.  

The draft Z39.4 standard will be available for public comment through January 31, 2021. Anyone with an interest in indexing — authors, editors, publishers, vendors, and others — is encouraged to share their feedback.

“Formalizing the new NISO Z39.4 as a standard that is applicable for both print and online publications will ensure that it is seen as authoritative and encourage wider industry support,” said Marti Heyman, Executive Director, Metadata Strategy and Operations at NISO member organization OCLC, and a Co-chair of the Z39.4 Working Group. "Wider adoption will, in turn, lead to a better, more consistent end-user experience."

Her fellow Co-chair, Pilar Wyman, Chief Indexer at Wyman Indexing agreed, “By emphasizing the three processes essential for all indexes — comprehensive design, vocabulary management, and syntax — the Z39.4 standard, once formalized, will enable a more efficient and effective process and experience for all who create or use indexes, irrespective of the medium. We welcome their feedback on the draft standard.”

NISO Associate Executive Director, Nettie Lagace, added, "We are delighted that this important standard has now been fully updated to better serve the needs of today’s indexers and index users. Our thanks to Marti, Pilar, and the Z39.4 Working Group members for their hard work to update the previous guidelines and develop new ones. We look forward to receiving additional input from the community through this comment period, which the Working Group will use to improve the final version of the standard, planned to be approved by ANSI in 2021.”

The draft NISO Z39.4 standard is available at

About NISO

NISO, based in Baltimore, MD, USA, aims to build knowledge, foster discussion, and advance authoritative standards development through collaboration among the cultural, scholarly, scientific, and professional communities. To fulfill this mission, NISO engages libraries, publishers, information aggregators, and other organizations that support learning, research, and scholarship through the creation, organization, management, and curation of knowledge. NISO works with intersecting communities of interest and across the entire lifecycle of information standards, and is a not-for-profit association accredited by the American National Standards Institute (ANSI). For more information, visit the NISO website ( or contact us at


Nettie Lagace

Associate Executive Director
Nettie Lagace is the Associate Executive Director at NISO, where she is responsible for facilitating the work of NISO's topic committees and development groups for standards and best practices, and ...