Friday, August 27, 2010

An appeal

Have spent a lot of this last month researching bits and bobs, and have the following appeal to publishers and editors:
  • All works of non-fiction should have an index
  • Footnotes not endnotes
    (Some subs explain wearily that footnotes are fiddlier when laying out pages, though most DTP packages make them dead easy. Footnotes are also much easier for proofing, too, and make it much more obvious when a citation isn't needed.)
  • Search the text for "I believe" and "seems to me" - which generally indicate opinion masquerading as fact or a sudden lack of evidence
Thank you.

5 comments:

Le Mc said...

While you're at it, can you ask older French books not to have the table of contents at the back?!

redscharlach said...

I fear you're on to a losing game with footnotes. There's a growing tendency these days to see them as visual clutter, and to see visual clutter as a Bad Thing that might scare away fainthearted potential readers. Hence notes now being squirreled away at the end, where they have less chance of startling people with their full-frontal bibliographic explicitude. Meanwhile, the fact that footnotes are easier for readers and editors gets lost along the way.

Oddly enough, I often have to tell French publishers not to put their contents pages at the back, and satisfyingly, they often do as I say. And then use this as an excuse for ignoring everything else I tell them to do. Zut alors.

0tralala said...

How very odd. Am reading Philip Reeve's Larklight at the moment which makes a very virtue of its footnotes, and splendid they look.

Can understand the wish to do away with clutter, but surely the question should be, "What does the note add?" rather than, "Where can we hide it?"

Also, I did not mention how much it warms my heart when the Front Matter tells us which typefaces have been used. And also how much the words "Front Matter" sound rude.

Will said...

Hear hear. Worst from being index-free are old autobiographies. They end up only being any use to me if they're indexed on Google Books...

Le Mc said...

Oh yes, books should always announce their fonts.