Thursday, May 3, 2012

Seeking a Kate Turabian Automaton

I think I finally appreciate the need for software that generates footnotes and bibliography, correctly formatted, automatically. I came to this realization while hand-correcting same with a copy of the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. My dissertation was such a sprint to the finish, and the bibliography, in particular, such a traumatic near-disaster, that this is really the first time that I'm writing something long and complicated enough, and with enough time to reflect on the process, to realize what a pointless pain this is. (A caveat in case any student should ever happen across this (or my eventual tenure committee, for that matter): That last sentence should be understood as academic shorthand and only as reference to the process of hand-checking every last footnote and accounting for every single variation in source-type, not a commentary on the necessity of documenting sources.)

I stopped using Endnote early in my graduate school career after it, in conjunction with MS Word, would periodically eat several footnotes at a clip. I never bothered to look for another alternative. And my rationale for ignoring a technology that would ostensibly make my life easier was that people used to do bibliographies by hand all the time. Of course, what I forgot to take into account is that most of these people had secretaries and/or wives to do their typing and formatting for them. Or Kate Turabians. What I need is an automated Turabian.

I'll look at returning to Endnote, and another option I'm considering is Papers, which is a Mac-only program, supposedly like iTunes for scholarly articles. Many people here at NYU also use RefWorks, so I may check that out as well. I'd love to hear what others use and what benefits and drawbacks those programs have. I may write again more in depth about all the options this summer, once I've had a chance to take a serious look at them. So, for now, to be continued...

Postscript: Creepily enough, between the time I switched windows from my book chapter, to the blogger window to write this post, back to my book chapter, MS Word, all on its own and with no help from Endnote, ate three of my footnotes. Who says computers aren't poised to take over the world?


  1. I really like Bookends, which is also Mac only. It works particularly well with Mellel, which I use to support RTL languages on the Mac.

  2. Awesome. Thanks! I also use Mellel for RTL, so that's especially helpful.