Running Heads

From the editors of Cascade Books and Pickwick Publications at Wipf and Stock Publishers

Curmudgeon List, endnote edition

Here in Eugene, OR we’ve entered the wet and gray season. I shouldn’t complain because the sunny and dry season was exceptionally brilliant this year. But I’m a curmudgeon. Complaining is what I do. As I biked into work this morning wrapped from head to toe in rain gear that is starting to lose its water-repellant properties, my disposition took on the doldrums the weather brought in, and so I decided it was a good day to add a third part to my curmudgeon list. See parts one and two for the first fourteen things on the list.curmudgeon mug

15. A couple of nights ago I finally finished the novel I was reading and needed some reading material for my bedtime routine. I thought I would revisit The Moral Vision of the New Testament by Richard Hays. I picked this book primarily because it happened to be near my bedside, having been referenced recently for some reason or the other. I have no major complaints about the content of the book. It does, however, remind me how much I despise endnotes, especially when the notes are often substantive as are Hays’s. And to add to the frustration the endnotes in this very important book are placed at the end of each chapter. It is a little easier to tolerate endnotes when they are placed at the end of the book. With that I can at least put a marker at the appropriate spot and turn there rather easily when I want to check a note. But when the endnotes are at the end of chapters, whenever I begin a new chapter I have to find the end of it and place a marker there for reference to notes while reading the chapter. There are a lot of chapters in Hays’s book. I will have to go through this hunt for endnotes more times than I would like.

That’s it. That’s all I’ve got for today. I loathe endnotes at the end of chapters so much they deserve a curmudgeon post all their own. If someone can tell me what purpose there is in arranging notes this way, I would much appreciate it. Until then, UGH!

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  1. Aagh, sorry, handwritten HTML without the opportunity to edit, this is what that should have been:
    Curmudgeonlier than thou?
    In my blog review of Seth Sanders The Invention of Hebrew I gave my explanation of why some dastardly publishers use endnotes:
    The Invention of Hebrew is an attractively produced small volume (171 pages of text – no, small is good, big just means more waffle like an airport block buster a waste of time, and in an academic book probably not entertaining either). The paper feels nice, though the print could be larger and sharper or I could be younger and sharper. It has a short but useful looking index and a bibliography. (Don’t you hate books where you have to hunt the notes for the first mention of a work you need to consult!) Priced at $50 but the publisher (University of Illinois Press, who have a strong stable of interesting Bible related works now) it is even better value at Amazon for $40. My only complaint so far – and if you read this Seth please pass it on to the series editor – is that it follows the idiotic habit of listing the notes at the back and numbering them separately for each chapter. (This device developed in the BC period when it was hard work for poor writers and editors to keep track of all the notes and difficult for typesetters to place them at the foot of the relevant page. Computers changed all this. But graphic designers like “clean-looking pages” and actual users are not considered, once we have bought a copy publishers have no interest in our reading experience. Readers of academic texts need references, so either use the Harvard system of inline references, or use footnotes!)

  2. Endnotes had an important function back when we used typewriters and they removed the onerous necessity to calculate how much space to leave at the end of each page for the notes needed on that page. If you’ve never had the pleasure of producing a paper this way, let me recommend it to you as one of those activities sure to help prevent dementia. With modern word processing and computing power, I can’t for the life of me understand why footnotes should not make a comeback. They’re much easier to read and no more difficult to produce.

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