Footnotes: top tactics for top tacticians

25 Sep

My posts use footnotes a lot, in ways and for reasons I’ll come to in a moment. But first, and at risk of teaching granny to suck eggs, let me say that clicking on the inline numbered marker …

… ipsum lorem  1

… will take you to the relevant footnote, which in turn houses the means of coming right back.

(And as I’m sure you already knew, gran, hovering the cursor over said inline marker allows you to read a few lines of the footnote without going there.)

Moving from matters practical to those of etiquette and communicative intent, I do know that mine is an unorthodox use of footnotes. In print, especially academic books and journals, these give sources for assertions made in the text. But Harvard protocols be damned, online writing allows that job to be done more efficiently by hyperlinking a claim to its supporting evidence.

Which frees up footnotes for another purpose, also enabled by online publishing: the shielding of detail from those who don’t want or need it, while granting lightning access to those who do.

Have a nice day.


  1. Here you are! You do need a longer post than this to get the full magic – I suppose I could have stuffed this one with half a page of ipsum lorems – but you can go back where you left off by clicking this rightangled arrow:

6 Replies to “Footnotes: top tactics for top tacticians

  1. Have a nice day yersel, Phil. Any good trips in the planning process just now? Looking forward to your Autumn photos. Just watch out for icebergs on the rivers – if they haven’t all dried up!

    (There are no footnotes to this post (although I sometimes wish for that facility).

    • Cheers Jams. You’ve reminded me that I do have an extensive September collection on phone and hard drive. I need to pull finger out and get the best of them up in a post.

  2. It has never occurred to me that footnotes are to be limited to citing sources. I’ve read enough books to come across all types, from documentation to additional information. The latter is referred to by The Chicago Manual of Style (14th edition, so it might have been changed by now) as “substantive notes.”
    For me, the most fun footnotes are in Karel Capek’s novel War with the Newts.

    • Damn! And there’s me thinking I was pioneering a whole new approach to footnotes …

      Talking literature, the footnotes in Brian O’Nolan/Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman take some beating.

    • Well you already got me wondering if I can afford to take time out of exposing ruling class devilry to mug up on the deadly conflict between humanoid and amphibian.

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