A couple of days ago, the full extent of my nerdiness was exposed yet again. I had just finished an email conversation with my brother, in which I was explaining my deep, abiding love for the footnote (and my unhappiness with endnotes [a pale imitation of the footnote, if you ask me] and parenthetical citations). That’s right…I have an intellectual crush on the footnote. (I also love prefaces, epigraphs, etc. Paratexts and I get along famously). I loved dipping into the Chicago Manual of Style and I’m rather saddened by the fact that I now use the MLA Style Manual more often (for some reason it just doesn’t seem to be as exciting–that’s right, I used the word exciting to describe style manuals–as the Chicago Manual).

So is it wrong that I wish I could skip out of work and my reading group today so that I can run home and meet the UPS person when they deliver the following?


Ibid by Mark Dunn (who wrote the inventive Ella Minnow Pea) is a fictional biography of a three-legged man told entirely through footnotes. I have no idea if it’s good or overly gimicky, but I had to buy it. It’s been calling my name for years now.

And the historian in me absolutely demanded that I get The Footnote: A Curious History by Anthony Grafton.

Be still my beating, nerdy heart.

10 responses to this post.

  1. LOL! As a person in a long-time relationship with MLA, I have to say that Chicago gives me a headache. Admittedly, though, it is far more eloquent than APA which I’m teaching my tech writing students at the moment. Yay for nerdiness!


  2. I have to agree with the nerdiness. The fact that you created links to Chicago Manual of Style and MLA leaves no shadow of a doubt that you are a citation junky. 🙂


  3. We expect a review for the book of the three-legged, footnoted man!


  4. Oh, to find someone else who understands the superiority of a footnote to an endnote! And I read the CMS both for fun and enlightenment (when you become an editor, you get a free copy, you know, provided by your company. Then you get another free copy when a new edition comes out). Can’t wait to hear all about IBID.


  5. Another footnote fan here. I look forward to your nerdy review. 🙂


  6. Andi: I think part of it is that the MLA Style Manual is so much thinner than the Chicago, so it doesn’t feel so weighty (in both senses). But I feel for you with the APA–no thank you!

    Ian: (as Loose Baggy Monster hangs her head in nerdy shame) I really am far gone on the nerdy spectrum aren’t I? I didn’t even realize I was linking to them–it’s become so naturalized. Perhaps this is actually a sign I’ve been in academia for far too long? It’s almost like I speak in citations sometimes 😉

    Sisyphus: I’m allowing myself to indulge in a “fun” book and knitting extravaganza this weekend in honor of break (since I don’t get to go anywhere remotely interesting except my local coffee shop and office). So I will have a review soon!

    Emily: Perhaps I missed my calling? I would LOVE to be an editor if it meant a free copy of the Chicago manual. I was the managing co-editor of my history department’s journal and I can’t tell you how much fun I had scouring people’s footnotes for formatting errors. So, so wrong…

    Sylvia: hooray for footnotes! And so far, the book on the history of the footnote is seductively calling my name…


  7. Oh, footnotes, definitely! I’d like to read Ibid too — I’m looking forward to hearing your thoughts!


  8. For a long time, I didn’t like footnotes, but now they seem the only sensible way to go. The idea of having to skip to the end of something to check the reference just doesn’t work.


  9. Dorothy: I’ve only just started Ibid but it’s quite interesting so far. My only complaint: I keep wanting to look up to the text to see what the footnote pertains to (and it’s not there!).

    Stu: Oooh, I like that: footnotes are more efficient. And I need all the help I can get in that area–I don’t need any encouragement in slothful behavior (which endnotes are for me)!


  10. I enjoyed Ibid a lot when I read it. I also had the feeling it was quite a liberating way to present a biography, as one does not need to be too fussed about a neat narrative continuity.


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