standard footnote symbols

Subject: standard footnote symbols
From: Jennifer Jelinek <jlkraus -at- AMETEKWATER -dot- COM>
Date: Thu, 14 Aug 1997 14:28:32 -0500

In --Guide to Technical Editing-- by Eisenberg, she (not to be gender-correct, but because the author really is a woman) states that "most academic publications order [footnotes] with symbols [asterisk], [dagger], [double dagger], [paragraph mark/squiggle thing], [section break/narrow double line], followed by superscript italic letters.

Chicago uses the same order, except it adds a number sign to the end of the list. Instead of superscript italic letters, it suggests that "when more symbols are needed, these may be doubled and tripled in the same sequence."

These pertain primarily to tables, which is what I'm usually footnoting. Here's my question...I've seen the progression go from asterisk, to DOUBLE asterisk, to dagger, and so on down the line. Since I very rarely go beyond four footnotes, I would prefer to stay with asterisks and daggers, which I think are more readily recognized as footnote symbols by the general public. Can anyone give me a reason why I shouldn't do this, as long as I stay consistent? Am I breaking a sacred commandment of tech writing or anything?

If I were to do this, would I use asterisk, double asterisk, dagger, double dagger (my preference) or asterisk, dagger, double asterisk, double dagger?

(for the record, I'm staying away from numbered footnotes, because I'm often footnoting data).

Thanks much!

Jennifer Jelinek
Nitpickers Anonymous
Jlkraus -at- ametekwater -dot- com

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