I love footnotes. I hate endnotes. Why, why, why is every publication switching to endnotes? As I read old books and articles, it seems to me that footnotes were once the standard. However, in new publications, endnotes seem to be much more common. Can someone explain it to me?
Honestly, the superiority of footnotes over endnotes seems so obvious to me that I hesitate to say why I like them more, but here goes. The profoundly obvious problem with endnotes is that they are hard to keep track of. I am constantly flipping through the back of a book looking for the corresponding endnote. When it turns out to be a simple â€œibid,â€ I curse. Later, I read an endnote which doesnâ€™t seem to match the text it is referring to and I realize Iâ€™ve been reading endnotes from chapter 4 even though I am in chapter 5 now. I quickly try to undo the mental links I made for the previous five endnotes which were simple citations of references. I get tired of how much it breaks the rhythm of reading to flip to the back of the book for every sentence in an especially citation-heavy page. Eventually, I just give up, which is a pity, because so much good stuff is tucked away in endnotes. Putting them off at the back of the book/article implies that the endnotes are not of general interest. They certainly wonâ€™t be read by most readers of the book or article.
Since I like endnotes, I often find myself reading all the endnotes at the same time after I am done with the text. If the book is short, I can sometimes remember the text to which the endnote refers. Am I the only one who does this?
By contrast, when I read old books and articles that make use of footnotes, I keep track of every one. I keep track of what references are being cited to support what points. It is easy to quickly scan down to the bottom of the page without losing the train of thought. I can quickly see it if all the footnotes on this page will cite the same source. When additional information is available in a footnote, I usually go down and read the extra text in its proper context. Even when I donâ€™t, I make a mental note that there is more information available on that topic if I become interested later.
Surely this affects those who write books and articles as well as those who read them. If you are a writer, do you hesitate to relegate part of your text to an endnote, knowing that by doing so you are insuring that no one but you and your editor will read it?
Since so many publications today use endnotes, I assume that there are good reasons for it, but I am genuinely unaware of what they are. Can someone fill me in? Can one of you Dialogue people make and excursion over here from BCC to educate me on why you have switched from footnotes to endnotes?
 Dialogue recently switched from footnotes to endnotes, starting with the Spring 2006 issue. It couldnâ€™t have happened to a nicer issue.