About Vivian Unger
Winner 2019 Purple Pen Award

Photograph of Vivian Unger         Too Dumb for Democracy book cover

Vivian Unger has won ICI's 2019 Purple Pen Competition. Her index appears in the book Too Dumb for Democracy?: Why We Make Bad Political Decisions and How We Can Make Better Ones by David Moscrop (published in March 2019 by Goose Lane Editions). She wrote a 10-page index for this 240-page political commentary, and the judges found her work to capture the author’s main themes and show a good web of terminology including many helpful cross-references and buzzwords from the field and author’s text.

The author, David Moscrop, wrote, "A book's index is essential. A good index can make the difference between a volume being useful for accessing or sharing knowledge and being a frustrating experience of searching for your keys in the dark. Vivian's index of Too Dumb for Democracy? is excellent. She broke down a complex subject into its essential parts and helped make the book accessible and, above all, useful."

Vivian, who holds a B.A. from McGill University, completed the University of California, Berkeley online indexing course in 2017.  She presently lives in Fredericton, the capital of New Brunswick, Canada, and is a member of the Indexing Society of Canada.


Vivian landed her first professional indexing project in early 2018, a scholarly work on Cubist and Futurist art. Since then, she has indexed feminist history and biography. She hopes to index more political books and to expand into the fields of science and  technology. Vivain serves on the national council of Fair Vote Canada, an organization advocating for replacing Canada’s current voting system with a proportional representation system.


Vivian wrote, "Juggling the demands of electoral reform activism and an indexing career can be challenging. However, I believe this interest makes me well suited to work in the field of political science. I was therefore happy for the opportunity to index David Moscrop's book Too Dumb for Democracy?"


This was the sixth year that the contest has been held by ICI, and the fourth time that a Canadian indexer has won the prize. Again this year the winner has taken the Berkeley course.


All entrants receive detailed feedback that combines the comments from three judges. The judging is done anonymously by members of the Institute of Certified Indexers (ICI).


The winner receives a check for $100 as well as the publicity of appearing on the ICI website and notification to the book's publisher and author. This honor also helps the new indexer in terms of building confidence and gaining career satisfaction. The members of ICI all endorse this as a successful way to mentor new indexers who benefit from a detailed review of their work.