#On Not Using Footnotes

I used to use footnotes in my blog writing, but I stopped pretty quickly once I found out how much it annoyed readers. I also design layouts for a living, and footnotes are pretty much the bane of my existence. I would never wish it upon my worst enemy. Seems like the vitriol is spreading.

Manton Reece:

I avoid footnotes in my writing. Often the same effect can be achieved with simple parenthesis. If parenthesis don’t fit well, entire extra paragraphs are also much more readable. And if it can’t be conveyed without footnotes, maybe the text should be cut out completely, if it is of so little importance to be relegated to the bottom of the article.

What I do use footnotes for now is in Scrivener, where you have the choice of not exporting them. They’re for me, the writer, so I know where I need to expand an idea or remind myself why I wrote something in a certain way. It’s a fantastic tool, but it shouldn’t be for sharing.

While I’m on the subject, I’ll point out that footnotes in print books still have value, because it acts as an analogue link to another work. However, the second you put an actual hyperlinkinto the text of a printed book, you’ve lost me. The web is a constantly changing thing, and that hyperlink is going to have a much shorter lifespan than another printed publication. At least for now, until everyone stops jumping from domain to domain anytime they get a new web designer.


April 1, 2015