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Word Wisdom: Addendum

The latest inspirational column from Rev. Dr. John Kreutzwieser
Word Wisdom

A friend asked for an article on the word addendum, so here it is, Barry.

Addendum means a thing added. It is derived from the Latin addendus, which comes from the verb addere meaning to add. An addendum is an addition, attachment, or exhibit to a finished document, such as a contract, a scholarly paper, or a book. A contract to manufacture widgets may have an addendum listing the specifications for said widgets. An addendum may be published when an additional piece of information important for the understanding of the article has arisen after publication. The additional information might serve to add more depth to the topic or clarify a published paper. An addendum is a section of new material that is added after the first edition or first printing of a book. The author may be updating the information in the book or providing an explanation for the author's work. It's an afterthought.

Addendum and addenda are the singular and plural forms of the word, respectively. Addenda means things that are added to something else. For example, the meeting will address several addenda from the members. Most English plural nouns end with the letter ‘s’. However, a few words with Latin roots maintain the Latin rules for the plural form. Addenda, along with stratum/strata, criterion/criteria, phenomenon/phenomena, memorandum/memoranda, bacterium/bacteria, and several others, are instances of this guideline. Because these types of words are rare, you may find some sources that list addendums as a possible alternate spelling of addenda. However, addenda is the classical plural spelling, and therefore the better one to use. 

In legal circles an addendum is something added to a previously existing written document, like a contract or will. Typically, it is either a more detailed explanation of something already noted or a proposed change to the document. An addendum is a convenient way to make amendments to an existing agreement. Business or legal contracts and wills are often lengthy, complicated documents. It would be time-consuming and tedious to rewrite the entire text, so simply add a short note of clarification, an addendum, rather than a total rework of the document.  A codicil is an addendum for a legal document that you use to make a minor change to your Last Will and Testament. For instance, you may need to add or delete a clause or change the name of an executor, guardian, or beneficiary.

In contrast an erratum (plural, errata) refers to a correction of a significant error in a published text. Errata should be published for scientifically relevant changes (such as missing or unclear figures) or changes to authorship if the author list was originally incorrect. 

Then there is an appendix which contains supporting documentation, such as a bank statement, but does not materially alter the terms of the contract. An appendix is a section of extra information that is useful to the reader. For example, a book on English grammar might have an appendix that lists the grammatical differences between American English and British English. When I wrote my thesis in 2006, Introducing and Integrating Silence into the Divine Service, the appendix included 6 items in additional pages to the paper.

And an annex provides additional information, often in the form of a table or a standardized form that supplements the contract. 

A rider, used to add specific provisions or conditions to a standardized contract, is most associated with insurance policies. They may either expand basic or limit coverage. 

Schedules are a type of addendum that deals specifically with numerical information. 

Exhibits provide examples of standard forms or other information that helps one or more parties clearly understand their obligations under the terms of the contract.

When writing an email, it occasionally becomes necessary to add information that expands upon the main themes offered by the message. Whether you are elaborating on a work history in an emailed resume or attempting to explain specific concepts in a message to co-workers, adding an addendum can help you make your message more thorough without lengthening the main body. Title the addendum “Addendum - [SUBJECT].” This helps the reader determine if the addendum is relevant to them.

We had an interesting thought last summer about an addendum to a gravestone. Why not have a QR Code engraved on the marker so that if someone would like additional information to the short information on the stone, they can scan the code on their phones and access a lot of, hopefully, interesting information. An addendum to your memorial might be an interesting concept.

John would like to know if anyone has a sincere interest in a relevant word that he could possibly research for an upcoming column. If so, please send your requests to . Words will be selected according to relevance and research criteria. We cannot confirm that all words will be used.

The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the author, and do not necessarily reflect the position of this publication. 

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