25 November 2008

Two Pet Peeves with Some Articles

Often when reading articles, usually of the Jewish topical variety, I get irked by two main issues. The first of these concerns quoting an author by name and the second of these concerns where/how to place a citation note.
As to quoting an author, there’s a famous rabbinic statement that espouses the importance of quoting the sayer of a particular statement (although, ironically, it is not clear who said it, as there are multiple rabbis identified with saying it). I feel this is important in writing as well. People write books. Let me say this again, people write books. I have yet to find books writing books. Therefore, one who writes a book should be quoted/cited in such a way. An instance of this would be that one does not say Adventures of Huckleberry Finn wrote such-and-such - rather, one would write, Mark Twain wrote such-and-such in his Adventures of Huckleberry Finn. Similarly, one would not write the Magen Avraham wrote such-and-such, but rather Rabbi Avraham Gombiner wrote such-and-such in his Magen Avraham.
The other issue is the proper placement of a notation. I've seen in some articles that will place the notation after the name of a person (or, even a book) rather than after the complete thought that is being noted. Generally, such articles follow the humanities style (such as Chicago style), thus
The superior numerals used for note reference numbers in the text should follow any punctuation marks except the dash, which they precede. The numbers should also be placed outside closing parentheses.
Wherever possible a note number should come at the end of a sentence, or at least at the end of a clause. Numbers set between the subject and verb or between other related words in a sentence are distracting to the reader.
Preferably, the note number follows a quotation, whether the quotation is short and run into the text or long and set off from the text. Occasionally it may be inserted after an author's name or after text introducing the quotation.1
Although I am getting some of these things off of my chest, I also hope these are helpful to writers out there.

1 - John Grossman, ed., The Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. (Chicago & London: University of Chicago Press, 1993) 494, 495.

1 comment:

Shira Salamone said...

Sounds like some of the nonsense I've had to deal with on the job. You'd be amazed at the amount of editing I've had to do in documents written by people with Master's and PhD degrees