Why we prefer In-Text Citations


Recently I got into a conversation with an author about in-text citations versus end notes. The author felt that end notes were more professional, while in-text citations were more stuffy and academic. The author felt that the in-text citations would break up the reader experience. It’s a fair point to make, and bigger pagan publishers will tell you that you shouldn’t use in-text citations either or quotes. they want to read it in your own words, because it will appeal to a broader market.

One of the aspects I like about running the non-fiction line of Immanion Press is that I get to make my own rules and I don’t have to obey the publishing conventions of others. I like in-text citations, and I think they are one of the hallmarks that Immanion Press is known for. Our readers like that we include in-text citations. I’ve actually had readers come up and tell me that one of the reasons they like our books is because we bring a level of professionalism to Pagan publishing by insisting on proper in-text citations, which in and of itself suggests that the market may want in-text citations, and quotes despite what larger publishers think of the matter.

However, I’ll admit the biggest reason I favor in-text citations is that I don’t think most people want to flip from the page they are reading to the end notes just to discover what notes or references the author has back there. I dislike having to look at the end notes, and rarely do because it involves more work than it should. It’s bad design, really, because if you want to read the notes you have to disrupt your reading to go to the back of the book and by the time you get to the back of the book you may not feel motivated to read end notes.

Whereas is you have in-text citations and foot notes it is easier to read them right there and then and continue in the main textual narrative as well. This makes the reading experience more of a continuum, and less of a disruption, while also helping people see what references you drew on. And speaking as a reader, I like to know the context of what you’ve drawn on. I don’t just want a bibliography. I want in-text citations that motivate me to actually look at the bibliography.