After staying up way past my bedtime, scheduling letters to be posted while I’m away attending familial festivities, I ended up having a few ideas that I’d like to run past you. I think they look lovely, but of course, my sleep-deprived mind isn’t exactly at its most trustworthy right now. This headache I’ve had for two days isn’t exactly helping either.
So if you don’t mind, I’d like to get your opinion on two formatting experiments.
The first I’m quite excited about; it’s a way to put faces with the names listed in these letters. While I’m sure most of us know the regulars – Jefferson, Washington, Adams – these mainstays sent lots of letters to those Founding Fathers with whom many of us are probably less than familiar. I think that only serves to detach us from the messages in those letters, making them feel rather impersonal and even more foreign than they already are, given the eloquent old world language they’re written in.
I thought it would be nice to include images of both the drafter of the letter, as well as its recipient, right there are the beginning, to show you who exactly is involved in the conversation we’re reading all these centuries later. I’ve set it up using thumbnails, which if clicked upon, will open the full portrait of the person in question. I’ve set it up on one particular letter from Washington to John Hancock, so you can see what it’ll look like.
Click here to check it out.
What do you think? Look good? Too big? Too small? Just right? I’d love to hear your thoughts on it and if you think it would be a good addition to all future letters.
The second experiment involves my new goal to add as many footnotes to each letter as possible, to further encourage an in depth understanding of the letters and the people who wrote and received them. I’ve started working on writing short bios about the different men and women who received the letters, as well as trying to notate any specific important occurrences referenced in the letters. For instance, in one upcoming letter, John Adams refers to the Boston Port Bill. The letter doesn’t make much sense if it’s not explained precisely what it is he’s referring to, if the reader doesn’t already know. So I wrote a little footnote!
That’s all well and good, but I’d like your opinion on one experiment in how to format those footnotes. In one particularly long letter, I’ve added little symbols to indicate the presence of a footnote. If you click one of those little symbols, it will scoot you down to the relevant footnote at the bottom of the page. After reading it, you can click “Back” and it’ll push you right back up to where you left off.
Click here to test it out for yourself.
I don’t necessarily plan on putting this much work into the shorter letters, since I don’t really think it’s necessary. But I’d like to know if you think it’s helpful for the longer ones.
Alright, that’s it for now. I need to sleep. More letters coming soon, I promise! I have a whole bunch scheduled all the way through to July! Yippie! And best of all, nearly all of them are going to be republished on the same date that they were originally sent! What could be better than that?