Wednesday, February 25, 2009

Italicized Commas: Seriously?

I give tours here at YLS, and one of the questions I get from prospective & admitted students once in a while is "What *don't* you like about the school?"

Usually, I say something like, "Well, the undergrads take over the dining hall most days, making the wait to get a tasty chicken wrap sandwich unbearable [even though we can cut in line in front of them at the check-out, until a couple classmates - including one commenter below - pointed it out to me, I had thought that no such privilege exists in the service lines]."

As of today, I have a new answer, which I should have been using all along: I HATE source citing. For the (luckily) uninitiated, source citing involves verifying the validity of each and every source used by an article's author for content accuracy, and then making sure the citation's format has been properly Bluebooked (so-called because of the ridiculously-detailed set of rules established by various law journal editorial boards and collected for our reference in the Bluebook). It really, truly sucks. I'm not kidding that today I heard a serious conversation about which commas in a particular citation should be italicized - to think that that bit of knowledge may have pushed some other piece of info out of my brain is just frightening.

I'm a pretty detail-oriented person, but my goodness - beyond the basic ability of a reader to track down a source, I could not care less about whether there's a uniform system of citation of legal scholarship, and certainly, I didn't care to spend even a small part of the last four hours of my day today making sure that some author has accurately formatted, according to Rule 18.5, the citation for the TV series 'Queer Eye.' [Some nice person at Cornell has given a quick overview of the basic citation rules here, if you want to torture yourself some time.]

I'm working on two journals this semester, and in general I like the other aspects of journal work: reviewing submissions and discussing whether they should be published, and even hunting for books in the depths of the library. But source citing would be the end of me, if it weren't for the presence of some good friends (to distract from the boring work) and yummy treats (to bribe us & keep up working). It's looking more and more likely that I won't even bother trying to join the Yale Law Journal (the only journal here that makes you apply for membership, through a competitive process)...there are much more interesting things to spend my time on around here.

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6 comments:

Cat said...

Ugh - source citing! That's something to hate that's not unique about YLS. We call it subciting, but by whatever name you call it, a thing that sucks is a thing that sucks.

Anna Laura said...

I love your blog, and this post made me laugh. I am a book editor but am going to law school in the fall. (I've been accepted to both YLS and HLS and am really not sure how I'm going to decide.) I was thinking I would avoid working on a law journal because I wanted a change . . . but maybe I should take advantage of the fact that I'm one of the few people who care about the typographic style of punctuation!

The Polynomial said...

This just in: According to Jim Barnett we CAN cut in front of the undergrads in the food lines as well as in the check-out line. A wrap-loving, undergrad-hating friend asked him last week.

SB said...

Anna Laura - it sounds like journal work is your law school calling! I'm happy to step aside. :)

Poly - you're the second person to tell me that today! I just feel so weird cutting in line anyway (I'm always worried I might incorrectly assume someone's NOT a law student)...I usually just wait till after 1pm to go to the dining hall for my precious wraps.

Cat said...

Congrats Anna Laura! Good luck with your choice - it's a great problem to have. (Although, I'm sure you're sick of people telling you that.)

Charlie said...

Gorgeous!