Footnotes: Origin, Evolution and Rationale in Legal Writing

Topics: Reference, Citation, Footnote Pages: 3 (777 words) Published: April 2, 2014
In this essay, I will examine the origin, evolution and rationale of footnoting reference style. The footnoting reference style in legal writing cannot be discussed completely without defining legal writing, referencing, referencing styles and the method of using footnotes amongst others. What is Legal writing?

Legal writing is a type of technical writing used by lawyers, judges, legislators, and others in law to express legal analysis and legal rights and duties. Legal writing is in practice used to advocate for or to express the resolution of a client’s legal issue. In legal writing, references cannot but be made to other author’s works, cases cannot but be cited, and authorities must be quoted. Hence, the use of referencing styles, referencing style is a specific format for presenting in-text references (footnotes or endnotes), bibliographies. There are different styles of referencing which includes the Harvard system and the Bluebook styles. The Bluebook system is a citation system used in legal writing and is also used in different courts. How did footnotes come about? The use of footnotes started around the 17th century in the works of some western scholars. They were a technical device sired by the marriage of history and philology1 that allowed historians “to combine a high literary narrative with erudite investigation,” writes Anthony Grafton, a Princeton scholars. They most likely first use of footnotes was a citation to authority. Footnote referencing style use a notational method of referencing to a source of information within the text of a document, in simpler terms, it’s a number in superscript format placed above the text in an essay. There are different purposes for which footnotes are used and they include the following: To distinguish your own ideas and findings from those you have drawn from the work of others. To gracefully acknowledge the scholars whose works have been referred to and avoid plagiarism. To enable your readers to follow up...

‘Eureka’, Ballart Fine Art Gallery and University of Ballarat, revised Febraury 1999, accessed 21st March, 2014.
The decline and Fall of footnotes, Bob Staake, accessed 21st March, 2014.
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