Thursday, February 10, 2005

The Shoe on the Other Foot

I've just spent way too much time fixing the Works Cited page of an article that we're going to be publishing in the next volume of Tolkien Studies. I now understand, in a very deep and personal way, why journals, editors, publishers, dissertation directors and the infamous "ruler lady" at Loyola-Chicago were all such enormous pains in the butt about consistent formatting and style. I can remember very clearly thinking how stupid it was to waste time on one citations style versus another. "All the information is there," I said, even as I mixed and matched various styles or just tossed things together. What did it matter if I used commas, or periods, or a mixture of them? Who cared if I used "ed" or "Ed." or "edited by"?

Now I know why I was wrong and they were right.

Just from an aesthetic point of view, you wouldn't want a whole variety of citation styles and formats in a single book or journal. It would just look stupid and, more importantly, it would be confusing for the reader. So someone has to make those citations consistent.

That someone is the editor. In this case, me. And it's a lot of stupid, irritating, boring work for the editor. More importantly, the editor has to do this for ten or fifteen different articles. So it's easier to make additonal mistakes, and it's a time suck.


correctly format your own damn papers!

It saves time, leads to better-looking and clearer papers, and prevents the editor from getting mad at you.

You don't want the editor mad at you, do you?

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