F.L. Lucas (1894-1967), Style
(London: Cassell & Co Ltd, 1955), p. 131:
But in recent years, especially in America, there has
grown up a system of annotation neither intelligent nor
considerate. Instead of putting notes at the foot of pages,
it jumbles them in a vast dump at the back of the book.
No normal reader much enjoys perusing a volume in two
places at once; further, though he may find his way, if he
has the patience, from the text to note 345, he may have
a tedious search to find his way from note 345 to the
relevant passage of the text. For this type of author has
seldom the sense, or the courtesy, to prefix his notes with
the page-numbers concerned. Consequently it may be
suspected that five readers out of six either skip the notes
altogether or skim through them in a lump, if they are
interesting enough, without looking back at the text.
The case is different with commentaries on great
literature, like Homer or Sophocles or Shakespeare. Fine
writing deserves fine printing; a page of poetry is not
enhanced by a rubble of scholia at the bottom; therefore
such commentaries appear better at the end. But footnotes are not commentaries; and most books are not great
art. Accordingly there seems much to be said for a retmn
to the older system of putting footnotes at the foot of
pages, not in a sort of boothole at the back.