Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. I am editing a book on a Western painter, and the author insists on including birth and death dates for every person cited, which makes for very bumpy and annoying reading. I’d like to include the dates in footnotes to make the reading smoother, but does this lessen the academic value of the text?

A. On the contrary. If this is a trade book, the writer might fear that footnotes will look too academic and turn off readers. Try to find out why the writer objects. If the objection is to footnotes per se, try for endnotes. If the objection is to moving the dates out of the text, then you’re probably stuck.