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can someone of a potentially editorial or librarian-ish bent explain to me why the publication information is punctuated the way it is at the end of a citation?

I'm thinking of Chicago-style citations, but the question applies to them all: is it just arbitrary, or is there some sort of logical order at work here?

@omniadisce fuck I actually followed a librarian a little bit ago but can't search my toots/notifications to remember who they were

LIBRARIAN WITH THE SPINNING AVATAR, THIS PERSON COULD USE YOUR HELP

@omniadisce
There are a number of reasons for the punctuation in references — the rules for citations largely depend on those of the textual context.
1. Hysterical Raisons,
2. It is easier to spot errors when formating is systematic,
3. It helps with (human more than machine) parsing,
4. Some may use it for semantics, separating out logical units, and
5. Probably a couple more I am not thinking of right now.

Furthermore, the order & presence of elements in a ref. illustrate what a particular style cares about & by ext. what disciplines that use (or target audience of) a style care about. For example, in history & usually popular nonfiction, narrative flow matters a lot, so a numbered-notes style cite is used with a ref. that emphasizes who & when. MLA emphasizes creators roles, such that an illustrator's name can be used 1st in the ref. if the illustrations are primarily under discussion.

(Continuing) APA emphasizes when and approximately where.
Citations & References provide at least 3 things for a writer:
1. Added authority, by ref. someone else's work one is asserting that the ref. author(s) is a authority on the subject in question in the particular context under discussion — and one is borrowing that authority,
2. It acknowledges another's work and separates it from one's own (many assert this is the ethical thing to do),
3. It provides the ability to audit one's research

@thelibrarian when I was doing tons of legal writing (for litigation), inline legal citations read like sentences to support your argument. Getting the format right helps concisely distinguish among many similar but different sources of authority.

@asavage
That's a great point. I have only a passing familiarity with legal writing via the occasional law review article or court decision that interests me, but I enjoy its exactitude.

@VickySteeves @vantablack @thelibrarian @feli

this is an idle question (which came up because I suck at citations), and you're all very kind to have taken the time to respond-- but I still have more questions!

are citations beginning Author-Date more common in STEM-ish fields where you want to be able to scan the date of a piece more quickly? are those that begin Author-Title more common in the humanities/squishier social sciences?

does the salience of info go down as you read LTR?

I mean, I can also see the beginning and the end of an entry being where you put the most salient information

so Turabian's

Elliott, Dyan. The Bride Of Christ Goes To Hell. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2012.

allows you to quickly scan the author name, the date, and maybe the title, while the place of publication and the publisher are second-order information

@omniadisce
From what I've noticed, the TEM in STEM generally uses numbered refs. with an in-text citations like [142], refs. are then listed in first occurrence order. The S tend to use an Author-Date style, being very fast moving & thus care about how recent the research is. Humanities, with exceptions, tend to use MLA, particularly in coursework. History and philosophy generally uses Chicago/Turabian notes-style. Other social sciences tend to use APA, which is an Author-Date citation style.

@thelibrarian @omniadisce The philosophy and linguistics I read tends to use author-date styles. A lot more philosophy used note styles in the first half of the twentieth century.

I use Chicago author-date because it's the default for my software.

@omniadisce
Interesting idea about salience, I think your observation is more or less correct, however there are contexts where say the publication information is of primary significance, e.g. works that are the same name, date, and author, but censored in one jurisdiction and not another; or if one is discussing a rare book and referencing the artifact as opposed to the content.

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