A pseudo-footnote is more than a lapse in good form. It is a betrayal of the reader that casts in doubt everything else that the writer says. Who, after all, can check up on every other statement the writer makes, even when these have legitimate footnotes? The pseudo-footnote, however, can be a valuable clue to the character of the writer. After all, you don’t need to eat a whole egg to know that it is rotten.
A special corruption that has crept into academic writings in recent times is the pseudo-footnote. This is the footnote that seems to direct the reader to the source substantiating some statement, but which in fact does no such thing. For example, one author told her readers that The Bell Curve declares blacks to be racially inferior in intelligence and footnoted this statement. However, the footnote itself listed the authors of The Bell Curve, the city where it was published, the publisher, and the date of publication—but no page. In other words, she could cite nothing whatsoever to back up her claim, but chose to create the illusion that she could with a pseudo-footnote. Sometimes it is legitimate to cite a book without a page, as when one refers to the general history of the Chinese minorities in various southeast Asian countries and then cites The Chinese in Southeast Asia by Victor Purcell. But a pageless cite to a specific claim is a pseudo-footnote.
The best editor I ever had was Midge Decter, who has written books of her own. She had very little to say and what she said made sense—both of which should qualify her for the editors’ hall of fame. Indeed, I went back to her for advice years later, long after she had left editing, and re-organized The Vision of the Anointed on her advice. But she never tried to micro-manage my style.
Obviously, if a copy-editor could be a successful writer, he would not be a copy-editor. This is not an occupation that can be accused of attracting more than its fair share of literary talent. However, the issue is not even whether the editor or the author is a better writer. “Too many cooks spoil the broth.” Committee-written works are seldom noted for their clarity or consistency, much less for grace and charm.
In every field, there are words that have special meanings and special connotations, and there are ways of presenting things which are easier to follow and harder to follow, phrases that facilitate understanding and phrases that invite misunderstanding. An author familiar with the subject he is writing about is far more likely to make the right choices of words, even without being conscious of it, than is an editor whose confidence outruns his competence.
After reading both The Elements of Style by Strunk and White, and also Williams’s Style toward Clarity and Grace I can see why teachers discuss these books as tools for correcting and perfecting their students writing, and style....
And of course, as is necessary in all good stories, there is the antagonist—the evil force that our hero must contend with; in this tale the “writing” will be the daunting task that is loathed and dreaded by our hero.
Our hero—the protagonist—is known as “the writer,” who is supported by both the writing instructor—our hero’s mentor traditionally—and the reference guide.
Over the years, I have come to find writing book reviews even more distasteful than reading them. Part of this is my own fault, for being one of those old-fashioned holdouts who still believes that you should actually read the book before reviewing it.
The other danger in replying is that it may encourage some publications to print outrageous attacks on you, because they can then depend upon a free contribution from you in return. This temptation may be particularly strong for minor publications that you would not ordinarily write for, even if they paid you.
Diction, organization, description, and titles are all key parts of an essay that combine the author's thoughts and teelings in an effective manner....
There is a certain well-accepted style to teaching writing in the traditional composition class, and it works very well for many students and teachers....
Sweeny (2010) states in her article Writing for the Instant Messaging and Text Messaging Generation: Using New Literacies to Support Writing Instruction that, “Teachers may be concerned about the way some students write using these different ICTs, imagining the potential negative impact their...
According to this non-reviewing review, American immigration history and contemporary policy were central to my concerns, though he noted in passing that the subtitle (“A World View”) suggests that my “focus is broader than the United States.” The fact that there were fourteen other countries covered in the book might also have suggested that—if he had read the book, though there was not a speck of evidence that he had. It so happens that contemporary American immigration policy was a subject that the reviewer had written about before—and apparently wanted to write about again, even if that meant making up a fictitious account of the book that he was supposedly reviewing.
Anyone wanting to make their writing clear, precise, and simply correct will usually try following some type of guideline, or book in order to perfect their own writing style.