The Art of the Footnote in Tech Blogging

If you are a relatively obscure blogger like me, you certainly don’t need footnotes in your posts. On the other hand, if your blog has a sizeable readership, using footnotes can elevate the perceived depth of your posts to a great extent.

Footnotes and endnotes have a scholarly feel since they are mostly used in academic research papers. In this context, there is a difference between footnotes and endnotes:

Footnotes are notes at the foot of the page while endnotes are collected under a separate heading at the end of a chapter, volume, or entire work. Unlike footnotes, endnotes have the advantage of not affecting the layout of the main text, but may cause inconvenience to readers who have to move back and forth between the main text and the endnotes.

This difference is irrelevant while blogging, because your blog post may be a chapter, a volume, an entire work, or just a few paragraphs, but it still exists only on one page (unless you’re writing on a well-known tech blog that needs pagination to increase time-spent-on-site). Your reader just has to scroll down, scroll down, scroll down, to read your footnote and scroll up, scroll up, scroll up, to come back to what you were saying.

Is the footnote, then, worth it, despite the inconvenience caused to the reader? As stated before, if your blog has an established readership, yes indeed. Your readers have been drifting in the desert, sweating under the hot sun, yearning for drips of your wisdom, since your last blog post. Every word you write is nectar that soothes their dehydrated souls. Midway between taking large gulps of your main text, scroll down to read the footnote and scroll back up? Heck, they’ll even zoom in to read your footnote in large print, in case you publish footnotes in a smaller font. Your readers attain a greater sense of fulfillment after having done this exercise, just like monks or pilgrims reaching a monastery or temple atop the mountain.

It doesn’t matter much whether your main text adequately justifies a footnote. If you are at a complete loss where to add a footnote, just pluck one sentence from your main text and make it a footnote. Your readers won’t notice you’ve done such an abominable thing, rather, this will enhance the perceived intellectual level of your writing.

In case you clicked on the one link in this post above to Wikipedia, you would have noticed that footnotes and endnotes exist in human knowledge under the category of typography. Typography is art and design and elegance; your readers will feel stupid if they don’t know anything about it. Which is another way to project that you are a connoisseur. This is another way footnotes elevate your writing and, ultimately, your online image.

Since my simple writing doesn’t need them, comments on this post are considered footnotes. Add yours!

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  • I find extensive disclosures more fun than footnotes.

  • Yeah, I remember your FTC disclosures icon set very well 🙂