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Question about setting footnotes in hot metal

Started by Eva, March 13, 2013, 02:35:01 PM

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In my researches about the history of legal citation style I came across an article that claimed that the highly abbreviated style of these citations (which appear in footnotes in law review articles, and can run into the hundreds in a single article) was linked to the greater cost of setting footnotes, as opposed to regular text, in hot metal. Does this make sense? I can understand that it would be more time-consuming to compose pages that contain many footnotes, but would would making the footnote text shorter decrease the cost of setting them? Many thanks for any light anyone can shed on this.

John Nixon

It was always about the amount of pages that needed printing. Whilst this kind of setting was usually done by Pieceworkers, correctly marked up abbreviation setting was easily set at high speed.
The resulting savings in composition time, paper and ink far outweighed any additional setting costs.

This kind of abbreviation setting was also used extensively in newspaper classified sections, where the cost of placing an ad was high and the amount of ad space available was finite, based on the capabilities of the press.

Today is far removed from when our local morning and evening papers both had many pages of classifieds, especially at the weeks end. Now they are lucky to get 1 page.



Dave Hughes

Hi Eva, welcome to the Forum.

To add to what John has posted: footnotes were usually set in a smaller type size than the standard body size of a book.

Combining the two sizes would break up the flow of production a little, compared with a standard book.

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Much increased cost would arise in Monotype setting, where there would be two set-ups on the caster to charge for,  a text size run,  say in 12 point, and another run maybe in 8 point for the footnotes.  Two separate set of cast type on galley would be provided to the composing room, and there would then be a slow and careful operation of "make up"  placing the right footnote below the relevant text page and maybe sometimes adding a rule.   In the University presses and the more serious publishers this was a regular occurence,
and sometimes a long  footnote trailed onto the next page.  It all costs loadsa money.   Cheaper by far was to apply a superior figure within the 12 point text, and have all the footnotes  - numbered to match -  in a kind of appendix at the back of the book. 

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