When searching for information in a book, many students are lost without a “Search Box” to type words into and “Enter” button to hit. In my paper, I will describe ways to engage such students in the allure of footnotes/endnotes and goodwill of indices. In recent years, I have asked students to bring in their research handbook in order to review with them how to document various sources. It quickly became clear to me that none of them (and at most one of them) knew how to “search” a handbook. When I explained to them that they should consult the index, they found it counterintuitive to go to the back of the book. Moreover, when we discussed some of the scholarship they were required to read, it became clear to me that they never read endnotes and rarely read footnotes. For example, there were subtle points the writer had made in a footnote of which they were unaware. I explained how footnotes and endnotes “free” the writer; for often it is here that she can ruminate on a particular point or he can discuss the nuances of a given word choice, theory, or example. As a result of learning how poorly acquainted they are to the artful format of a book, I developed a series of staged exercises which introduce them to various ways books “work” - ways that are specific to the skill, sophistication, and subtlety with which printed texts, and books in particular, are conceptualized and crafted.
|Keywords:||Index, Footnote, Format|
Assistant Professor of Writing, The University Writing Program, The George Washington University, The George Washington University, Washington, DC, USA
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