I’ll admit it. I am a librarian and I hate footnotes and endnotes.
I have often lamented the wide proliferation of citation styles. I really wish publishers could all agree on one style of citation, but that probably won’t be happening anytime soon.
This afternoon I am trying to read an article that seems very interesting, but it has endnotes, making my preferred style of reading a journal article much more difficult.
For example, normally I start to read the first few paragraphs of the introduction, then skip to the references section to see who they are citing. A nice neat alphabetical list makes this easy.
Footnotes, on the other hand, make it very difficult to scan the references cited.
Today, when I wanted to check on a particular reference, I turned to the end of the paper and found endnote #90 and read “Ibid”. I kept looking up the list to see “Ibid. Ibid. Ibid.” until eventually I found an author and article title at endnote #85. But then I have to keep going back up the list (of over 100 endnotes) until I saw a complete citation. In this case, I didn’t find it because it was buried in one of several paragraph long notes (note #76). I had to turn to the “search” feature of my PDF reader to actually find the complete citation.
This is not user friendly. I argue that a nice list of alphabetical references and author date in-text citations are the most user friendly (although my colleagues in the humanities may disagree with me vehemently).
I grant that footnotes or endnotes can occasionally be very useful for text explanations, but most of this explanation could often be done within the text. And of course, there are authors who use footnotes to humorous effect (Jasper Fforde being one of my favorites).
OK, rant over.