Footnotes are an under-utilized and heavily debated element of publishing content on the web.
Many bloggers overlook this important writing tool found in nearly every book they review or read to expand their vocabulary.
Why don’t we see more footnotes in today’s landscape of modern writing?
Has the simplistic writing style of today’s writers lost the need for footnotes? Is everybody on the Internet truly an expert that the need to cite others has been lost?
…or do we just suffer from a different symptom of modern writing—laziness?
I won’t discount these factors as nonexistent but will focus my argument on a more productive premise:
How easy is it to add footnotes to an article on the web?
If you’ve ever tried implementing a footnotes system into your own writings you probably found out how nuanced such a system can be.
The process usually involves scattering HTML number codes throughout your text while making a list at the end of the post, only to force readers to jump up and down the page to digest those notes.
While this can be a slightly disorienting experience for readers, and getting the markup just right can be a tedious process for you, this system has been effective enough in decades of web publishing.
But in the context of WordPress (a CMS that powers most of the web), how have footnotes been improved?
A glance through the WordPress Plugins Directory shows many promising answers to the question but all fall short in 2 key areas:
The 2 Problems With WordPress Footnotes
- Most footnotes are thrown into “tooltips” that cover surrounding text on view
- There’s no easy way to manage footnotes apart from hunting them down in the post editor
Many plugins use advanced effects to create “tooltips” that show footnotes inline the text.
This gets the job done and makes viewing less disruptive (no page jump) but hides the surrounding text around it—a bad web design practice .
Next, to manage footnotes you usually have to input each note into a shortcode and place those shortcodes throughout your post.
These shortcodes provide half the answer, but not any kind of elegant management system apart from hunting each footnote down in the post editor.
Whether you code a system yourself or use a plugin, you can get the job done. But consider that modern writers have more responsibilities than ever.
Apart from the finding perfect images, optimizing text for social/search, crafting excerpts, and other tasks, how can footnotes be simplified in a way that saves time in the editorial process while improving the reading experience?
Smart Feature #1
Footnotes + Sidenotes all-in-one
(with Smart Layout Detection)
Sidenotes are a close relative to traditional footnotes that stream alongside the text. Sidenotes are just a glance away and don’t require any clicking or scrolling to view.
Due to the thousands of differences in how WordPress themes are constructed, no WordPress plugin can produce sidenotes the right way.
When the space of your articles layout permits it, any footnote you insert into your text will show as a sidenote in the gutter of your page.
On the flip-side, when your layout has an element like a sidebar that limits the amount of screen real estate you have, footnotes convert into clickable numbers that open inline your post.
To limit disruption, each footnote opens up the surrounding paragraph and displays between your words, not over them.
Smart Feature #2
Easy Footnotes Manager Beneath Your Post Editor
Forget scrolling up-and-down your post editor, you can finally separate your notes from your main text with the dedicated Footnotes Manager.
The Footnotes Manager gives you everything you need in a simple meta box in your post editor. MD Footnotes doesn’t clutter your admin interface with options pages, it’s ready for use out-of-the-box.
Simply plug each footnote into its own text box and create as many as you need by clicking the “Add Footnote” button.
Each new footnote is assigned a unique shortcode that can be dropped right where you need it in your post.
Smart Feature #3
Add Footnotes List to the End of Your Post
While reading footnotes alongside your text is wildly helpful, it’s important to list them together in one section to make them easy to view at once.
As you create new footnotes, the Manager compiles them into a single list that can be added to the bottom of your post by enabling a simple option.
Your footnotes are ordered in the way you created them in the Manager and even generates a return link so readers can jump back up to the original reference point in your post.
MD Footnotes is Now Available in Marketers Delight
Because it takes a single typographical system to master the finer details of footnotes, I’ve smoothly integrated this feature into Marketers Delight.
By inheriting MD’s scripts and styles, it takes very little resources to add this simple system to your site.
Look, I’m not here to claim MD Footnotes is (yet) perfect as it still suffers a drawback inherited from the classical systems of the web.
For example, if you need to move an existing footnote around in the text you still need to update the numbers of the ones that follow to keep everything in order.
A nuance like this can be made easier by adding a sorting option into the Manager, and that is on schedule to be added as Marketers Delight gets new updates.
But footnotes are just the beginning. MD adds tons of power features made specifically for writers in a single, tailored theme.