Paragraph-Based Quotation in Place of PDF/Page-Based

From: Stevan Harnad <>
Date: Fri, 27 Oct 2006 19:02:09 EDT

In the online age, page/line-based quotation is obsolete (for
current and forward-going text). Pages are and have always been
arbitrary entities. A document's natural landmarks are sections,
paragraphs and sentences. That is how quotations and passages
should be cited, not by page numbers (though page numbers can be
added in parens as a courtesy and curiosity, for continuity, for
the time being, while pages -- and PDF -- scroll inexorably
toward their natural demise).

It goes without saying that all quotations, citations and
references should be hyperlinked. I am sure that XML documents
will be tagged for section number, paragraph number and sentence
number, so that it will be natural not only to pinpoint the
passage to which one wishes to refer, but to hyperlink directly
to it.

This answers, in passing, one faint concern about the
self-archiving of authors' final refereed drafts instead of the
published PDF: "How will I specify the location of passages I
wish to single out or quote?" The answer is paragraph numbers
(or, if you want to be even more precise, section numbers,
paragraph numbers and sentence spans). They have the virtue of
not only being autonomous and ascertainable from the document
itself, but they are independent of arbitrary pagination and PDF.
(It will also be useful for digitometric analyses.)

(I introduced this rather trivial and obvious online solution in
Psycoloquy in the early 90's,
-- though I'm sure I wasn't the first -- and APA at last began
recommending it in 2001: ),GGGL:2005-09,GGGL:en&filter=0

Stevan Harnad
Received on Sat Oct 28 2006 - 02:16:27 BST

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