Monday, September 8, 2008

footnotes v. endnotes

I'm in the process of preparing a paper for submission to the International Journal of American Linguistis (or IJAL as we affectionately call it), and one of their more annoying requirements is the use of endnotes rather than footnotes. As an author, I don't much care (though footnotes are a little easier to deal with because I don't have to scroll back to where I was to begin with). However, as a reader, I hate endnotes. If I want to know what's being referenced, I have to either flip to the last page every time I see one, or else leave that page out (an annoying requirement as I typically don't bind articles, and put the page I've just read behind the stack of paper). I'm sure many people don't read them at all. As a reader, I say that's fine, but I'm of the persuasion that if the author thought it necessary to include, it's probably valuable to read. As an author, it worries me, since I put information that's sometimes vital to the interpretation of my text in notes. Footnoting a sentence or two doesn't mean it's of no value; it simply means that the note doesn't flow correctly in that spot of the text. Thus the two possible solutions: (1) put the information in the main body of the text, or (2) leave out the information as unnecessary, are often neither one an option.

I suppose it's not very linguistics-related, but I had to get it off my chest. Oh, and they have to be double-spaced as well. I understand requiring that for the typesetter, but for initial manuscript submissions before the paper's even been accepted? Seems unnecessary. What was a twenty-page paper with normal margins, notes, and spacing is quickly becoming a forty-page paper, dangerously close to IJAL's upper limit of fifty pages.


Anonymous said...

Speaking as both a writer and a reader, I much prefer footnotes to endnotes. Flipping back and forth is a pain.

Speaking as someone who occasionally reviews articles for journals, I do like double spacing. It gives me room to make notes.

NW said...

I love reading footnotes, they're where a lot of juicy stuff is in papers, where people try to explain away data they don't like or bring up contending explainations for what they're studying.

Ryan Denzer-King said...

I just double-checked, and the IJAL does indeed use footnotes in the published version. Clearly they just want 12-pt., double-spaced endnotes for the typesetter. That's encouraging. But still kind of a hassle.