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

From: Michael Carroll <Carroll_at_LAW.VILLANOVA.EDU>
Date: Mon, 30 Oct 2006 09:59:10 -0500

FWIW, in American law we have some experience with this because federal administrative agencies issue memorandum decisions with numbered paragraphs, which are cited accordingly. In the 1990s, the American Bar Association considered a proposal to extend this practice to judicial opinions. Our canonical citation format requires page citation, and the proposal was designed to make the HTML versions of opinions then-available on the open Web citable. Legal publishers effectively lobbied judges to oppose this proposal, and down it went. So, Stevan is right that this would be a good idea, but expect publishers to oppose any such effort for exactly the reason Jean-Claude identifies.

All the best,

Michael W. Carroll
Associate Professor of Law
Villanova University School of Law
299 N. Spring Mill Road
Villanova, PA 19085
610-519-7088 (voice)
610-519-5672 (fax)
Research papers:

See also

>>> Jean-Claude Guédon <jean.claude.guedon_at_UMONTREAL.CA> 10/29/2006 10:51:51 AM >>>
I agree with Stevan that paragraph numbering is a very good idea. It has
an interesting consequence: if paragraph numbering becomes accepted
usage, one has to rely only on the version found in a repository. This
means that the repository version begins to acquire a status equal to
that of the published version, especially if the institution behind its
repository makes explicit statements regarding the quality of the
documents placed in its repository. This is a consequence Stevan may not
like, but it looks very good to me.

Jean-Claude Guédon

Le vendredi 27 octobre 2006 à 03:07 +0100, Stevan Harnad a écrit :

> In the online age, page/line-based quotation is obsolete (for current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:
> )
> Stevan Harnad

Dr. Jean-Claude Guédon
Dept. of Comparative Literature
University of montreal
PO Box 6128, Downtown Branch
Montreal, QC H3C 3J7
Received on Mon Oct 30 2006 - 19:29:51 GMT

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