To BEGIN with, let us enumerate what is repulsive and therefore wrong:

1. In a superscript numbers in the text of books:

  •  An unsuitable font of superscript numbers;
  •  Superfluous parentheses following the superscript number;
  •  No spacing between word and superscript number.

2. In the footnotes:

  • Reference numbers that are much too small, frequently illegible, and often belong to a different and discordant font;
  • Deletion of the punctuation mark following the note number;
  • The 4-pica flush-left rule often placed above the footnote, which is both unnecessary and unsightly;
  • Insufficient leading within or between footnotes;
  • Lack of clarity due to lack of indents.

(Tschichold, 1991 : 123)

If notes ¹ are used for subordinate details, it is right that they be set in a smaller size than the main text. But the academic habit of relegating notes to the foot of the page or the end of the book is a mirror of Victorian social and domestic practice, in which the kitchen was kept out of sight and the servants were kept below stairs. If the notes are permitted to move around in the margins – as they were in Renaissance books – they can be present where needed and at the same time enrich the life of the page.

Footnotes are the very emblem of fussiness, but they have their uses. If they are short and infrequent, they can be made economical of space, easy to find when wanted and, when not wanted, easy to ignore. Long footnotes are inevitably a distraction: tedious to read and wearying to look at. Footnotes that extend to a second page (as some long footnotes are bound to do) are an abject failure of design.

Endnotes can be just as economical of space, less trouble to design and less expensive to set, and they can comfortably run to any length. They also leave the text page clean except for a peppering of superscripts. They do, however, require the serious reader to use two bookmarks and to read with both hands as well as both eyes, swapping back and forth between the popular and persnickety parts of the text.

Sidenotes give more life and variety to the page and are the easiest of all to find and read. If carefully designed, they need not enlarge either the page or the cost of printing it.

(Bringhurst, 2004 : 68)

The note is a fairly elusive and receding element of the paratext ². Some types, such as later or delayed authorial notes, do indeed fulfill a paratextual function, that of providing defensive commentary or autocriticism. Other types, such as original notes to discursive texts, instead constitute modulations of the text and are scarcely more distinct from it than a phrase within parentheses or between dashes would be.

(Genette, 1997 : 342)

1. Nota – Indicação localizada na parte inferior de uma página, no final de um documento ou de uma parte de um documento, com o fim de precisar, completar, ilustrar ou esclarecer um elemento de informação dado no texto principal. Anotação. Apostila. (Faria e Pericão, 2008 : 861)
Anotação – Comentário breve ou explicação de um documento ou do seu conteúdo ou mesmo uma descrição muito resumida, habitualmente junta em nota depois da referência bibliográfica do documento. Apontamento. Glosa. Apostila. Apostilha. Postila. (Faria e Pericão, 2008 : 73)
2. Paratexto – Franja textual que rodeia um texto e cuja finalidade consiste em fazer a adaptação entre o texto e o público | Termo que privilegia a abordagem textual de um livro. (Faria e Pericão, 2008 : 935)

Bringhurst, Robert. (2004). The Elements of Typographic Style. 3rd ed. Vancouver: Hartley and Marks Publishers. Original edition, 1992.

Faria, Maria Isabel, e Pericão, Maria da Graça. (2008). Dicionário do Livro: da escrita ao livro electrónico. Coimbra: Almedina.

Genette, Gérard. (1997). Paratexts: Thresholds of Interpretation. Cambridge University Press. Original edition, 1987.

Tschichold, Jan. (1991). The Form of the Book: Essays on the Morality of Good Design. Vancouver: Hartley & Marks. Original edition, 1975.

Sara Patinho Rodrigues, 8056, turma A