Three Tips for Managing Source Notes in Your Book
Monday, November 14, 2016 at 9:23AM
Biff Barnes in Family History Research and Preservation, Planning Your Book’s Contents

If you are writing an academic, technical, or family history book, the source notes may be as important as the text itself. Here are three tips to help you manage source notes.

Courtesy of Brianne Sperber on Wikimedia Commo

  1. Refer to the style manual appropriate to the book you plan to write before you begin writing. The Chicago Manual of Style, AP Stylebook, or MLA Guide will show you exactly what information you will need for each source and how to format it. For older authors (I include myself here) checking on how to document online sources when you initially encounter them will save time and headaches.
  2. Create your source notes exactly as you want them to appear in the book as you write the manuscript. If you get the documentation right when you have the source in front of you, you will save yourself time. If you plan to go back when you finish writing the text and make sure your source notes are correct, you will too often find that you don’t have all the information you need and have to locate the source all over again. That can be very frustrating.
  3. Use endnotes rather than footnotes. It is easier for the reader if the flow of the text is not interrupted by footnotes. Few readers want to review every source note. Readers who do want to check a note or notes will not mind flipping to the back of the book. Endnotes also simplify book design and allow for a “cleaner” look for the book’s interior.

If you are writing an academic, technical, or family history book, the source notes may be as important as the text itself. Here are three tips to help you manage source notes.

1.      Refer to the style manual appropriate to the book you plan to write before you begin writing. The Chicago Manual of Style, AP Stylebook, or MLA Guide will show you exactly what information you will need for each source and how to format it. For older authors (I include myself here.) checking on how to document online sources when you initially encounter them will save time and headaches.

2.      Create your source notes exactly as you want them to appear in the book as you write the manuscript. If you get the documentation right when you have the source in front of you, you will save yourself time. If you plan to go back when you finish writing the text and make sure your source notes are correct, you will too often find that you don’t have all the information you need and have to locate the source all over again. That can be very frustrating.

3.      Use endnotes rather than footnotes. It is easier for the reader if the flow of the text is not interrupted by footnotes. Few readers want to review every source note. Readers who do want to check a note or notes will not mind flipping to the back of the book. Endnotes also simplify book design and allow for a “cleaner” look for the book’s interior.

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