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Criteria for Indexes (Z39.4) Working Group

ANSI/NISO Z39.4, Criteria for Indexes is now published!

This working group's output, ANSI/NISO Z39.4 Criteria for Indexes was approved by ANSI on July 12, 2021 and published by NISO on July 14. 


This project ran from August 2019 to July 2021.


NISO did not have a standard addressing indexes and related information retrieval mechanisms. There was an outdated technical report from 1997 (NISO TR02-1997, Guidelines for Indexes and Related Information Retrieval Devices) which was based on Z39.4-1984, Basic Criteria for Indexes. When Z39.4-1984 (whose first edition was published in 1959) was being revised, consensus could not be reached by the voting members on approval of the draft revised standard, so it was published instead as a Technical Report.

The scope of NISO TR02-1997 included guidelines for the content, organization, and presentation of indexes used for the retrieval of documents and parts of documents. It also included the principles of indexing, regardless of the type of material indexed, the indexing method used (intellectual analysis, machine algorithm, or both), the medium of the index, and the method of presentation for searching. While this publication was very robust, it was twenty years out of date and did not address more modern techniques such as embedded indexing and indexes designed for electronic searching. Also, it was not quite specific enough in book indexing and not organized in a way to be useful as a guide for book indexers.

Using NISO TR02-1997 as a starting point, this Working Group reviewed, revised and extended it as needed to address issues of currency and completeness of coverage. All relevant advances in technology and techniques since 1997 were addressed, including embedded indexing. This work was put forward to NISO voting members in Spring 2021 for their approval as an ANSI/NISO standard (Z39.4). 

The draft for comment version is still available together with comments and responses.


Committee Roster


Marti Heyman

Executive Director, Metadata Strategy and Operations
OCLC Online Computer Library Center


Jill Annitto

(ATLA) Editorial Manager, Religion Database
American Theological Library Association

Jessica Chan

Analyst, National Center for Biotechnology Information
National Library of Medicine

Su Hyeon Kang

Metadata Analyst
American Theological Library Association (ATLA)

Jihye Lee

Electronic Cataloging Librarian III
Nova Southeastern University

John Magee

Director, Indexing & Vocabulary Services
Cengage Learning

Joseph Yue

Librarian for Humanities, Social Sciences and Reference Collections
University of California, Los Angeles