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Q. I am copyediting a nonfiction manuscript that contains citations of online news articles. We are hoping to use footnotes rather than endnotes for this book, and the URLs are very long and ungainly. The author’s proposed solution is to include only the web address for the news site’s home page and not the full article URL. I think it would be better to use a service to shorten these so that we can list a (currently) working URL for each specific article without taking up two or three lines of space for each one. Do you have any opinions on whether this is a sound practice or have any other suggestions for this kind of problem?
A. The author’s solution is preferable to URLs shortened by a third-party service, which aren’t always reliable or lasting. Please see CMOS 14.10 for detailed advice about shortening URLs. You might be able to clean up the complex URLs for individual articles by lopping off most of the gobbledygook. (Try it!) Or navigate to the page some other way and see whether the URL is tidier than the one provided.