When I started as editor of AJP, I learned a lot of journal rules. AJP authors should not thank the editor in their acknowledgements.* AJP figures should not rely on color to be readable. AJP uses American spelling: color, not colour. AJP uses the serial comma.§ AJP has endnotes, but not footnotes.**

After four years of telling authors that they needed to convert their footnotes to endnotes, it finally occurred to me to ask “Why don't we allow footnotes?” I started with our publisher, AIP Publishing. Our capable journal manager, Alexandra Giglia, said, “Yes, we can handle footnotes.” So then I asked the former editors. There are a lot of them.†† Richard Price, David Jackson, Jan Tobochnik, Bob Romer, and Edwin Taylor. No one knew why AJP doesn't have footnotes. The rule extends back into AJP's pre-history, handed down from one editor to the next, until we forgot why it exists. Sort-of like why p is the symbol for momentum.1–3 

A search of our online journal reveals that we used footnotes exclusively (no endnotes) until December 1969, and in January 1970 we switched entirely to endnotes (no footnotes).‡‡ As the kids say, “Por que no los dos?” They serve different purposes: endnotes are primarily for references, while footnotes add information that you might want to learn while reading.

Our first paper to use both endnotes and footnotes, “Maxwell and the development of electromagnetic theory,” appears in this issue.4 Appropriately, it has an interesting story. It was drafted in 1976, then, following the author's death, it sat in the Alfred M. Bork archives at U.C. Irvine, lacking not only footnotes, endnotes, and figure captions, but also lacking readers, until it was rescued by Kirk McDonald. Kirk added the necessary elements for printing, and I'm delighted to share this paper with our readers.

But, you ask, what about the “other editorial innovations” advertised in the title? I'm so glad you asked. Check the online table of contents: https://pubs.aip.org/aapt/ajp/issue. Under each title, you'll find the Editor's Note. Unlike an abstract, which tells you what results you'll find in the paper, the Editor's Note tells you why you'll want to read it (or not read it: not every paper is for every reader). Getting the Editor's Notes to appear on the webpage was another heavy lift for the production office, but we're hopeful that readers will enjoy them. By the way, you can also read the Editor's Notes in each month's “In this issue” editorial, and, if you're not one of the 700 readers whose copy comes in the mail each month, you might want to subscribe to the table of contents alerts so that you'll know when the new issue is posted.§§

What other innovations would you like to see in AJP? Send your requests to ajpeo@aip.org and I'll try to make them happen.

*

Editors are paid. Reviewers are volunteers. You can thank the reviewers.

The print issues are in grayscale.

We are, after all, the American Journal of Physics.

§

As should everyone.

**

I'm reminded of an oral examination in which the grad student said, “I didn't memorize that fact because I can look it up whenever I need it.” The professor responded, “We have now disproved that statement.” The same is true here.

††

The longevity of our former editors gives me great hope for my future.

‡‡

Ed Taylor took over in 1973, so, indeed, this custom pre-dates living editorial history.

§§

Sign in at https://pubs.aip.org and then choose “my alerts” under your profile. If you're an AAPT member without online access to AJP and TPT, you should also email help@aip.org to get online access set up.

1.
Steven
Brown
, “
x, y, z, and s
,”
Phys. Teach.
38
(
2
),
71
71
(
2000
).
2.
Ronald
Newburgh
, “
Why ‘p’ is the symbol for momentum
,”
Phys. Teach.
38
(
4
),
198
198
(
2000
).
3.
Willy
Herreman
, “
More impulsive thoughts
,”
Phys. Teach.
38
(
5
),
259
259
(
2000
).
4.
Alfred
Bork
, “
Maxwell and the development of electromagnetic theory
,”
Am. J. Phys.
92
,
498
510
(
2024
).