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How to Write a Research Paper

Writing a research paper is a bit more difficult that a standard high school essay. You need to site sources, use academic data and show scientific examples. Before beginning, you’ll need guidelines for how to write a research paper.

Start the Research Process

Before you begin writing the research paper, you must do your research. It is important that you understand the subject matter, formulate the ideas of your paper, create your thesis statement and learn how to speak about your given topic in an authoritative manner. You’ll be looking through online databases, encyclopedias, almanacs, periodicals, books, newspapers, government publications, reports, guides and scholarly resources. Take notes as you discover new information about your given topic. Also keep track of the references you use so you can build your bibliography later and cite your resources.

Develop Your Thesis Statement

When organizing your research paper, the thesis statement is where you explain to your readers what they can expect, present your claims, answer any questions that you were asked or explain your interpretation of the subject matter you’re researching. Therefore, the thesis statement must be strong and easy to understand. Your thesis statement must also be precise. It should answer the question you were assigned, and there should be an opportunity for your position to be opposed or disputed. The body of your manuscript should support your thesis, and it should be more than a generic fact.

Create an Outline

Many professors require outlines during the research paper writing process. You’ll find that they want outlines set up with a title page, abstract, introduction, research paper body and reference section. The title page is typically made up of the student’s name, the name of the college, the name of the class and the date of the paper. The abstract is a summary of the paper. An introduction typically consists of one or two pages and comments on the subject matter of the research paper. In the body of the research paper, you’ll be breaking it down into materials and methods, results and discussions. Your references are in your bibliography. Use a research paper example to help you with your outline if necessary.

Organize Your Notes

When writing your first draft, you’re going to have to work on organizing your notes first. During this process, you’ll be deciding which references you’ll be putting in your bibliography and which will work best as in-text citations. You’ll be working on this more as you develop your working drafts and look at more white paper examples to help guide you through the process.

Write Your Final Draft

After you’ve written a first and second draft and received corrections from your professor, it’s time to write your final copy. By now, you should have seen an example of a research paper layout and know how to put your paper together. You’ll have your title page, abstract, introduction, thesis statement, in-text citations, footnotes and bibliography complete. Be sure to check with your professor to ensure if you’re writing in APA style, or if you’re using another style guide.


how to write footnote in research paper

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Headnotes or Footnotes? A Quick Guide on Organizing Your Research Paper

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In academic writing, footnotes, endnotes, and headnotes provide additional information on a particular topic. They are placed in the document as a supplement to the main text. These notes can be inserted into the document as a footer or at the end of a chapter.

The notes should be kept as brief as possible. The objective is to provide more information without distracting the reader. We discuss the different types of notes, how to use them, and their pros and cons.

What Are They and Why Use Them?

A footnote is a reference placed at the bottom of a page or footer. They are referenced in the text in the same way as a citation i.e. the referenced text is followed by a superscript numeral ( 1 ), which corresponds to the numbered footnote at the bottom of the page. When writing your research paper , you would use a footnote for two major reasons:

The two types of footnotes are:

The format of footnotes is fairly standard (see below for specific rules) and is the same as that for references as follows:

Adrian Johns.  The Nature of the Book: Print and Knowledge in the Making (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1998), 623.

When citing the same reference again, the footnote can be shortened as follows:

Johns.  Nature of the Book , 384–85.

Some older journals use “ ibid ” instead of a shortened version of the reference. Ibid is short for the Latin “ ibidem” , which means “in the same place.” This format was previously used in most printed text but rarely used now.

Endnotes are much the same as footnotes except that they are placed at the end your research paper instead of at the bottom of a page. In books, they can be placed after each chapter or at the end of the book.

In many cases, the book publisher decides the best placement. Endnotes, as footnotes, are numerically noted in superscript. The format is the same as that for footnotes.

Headnotes are used as introductions in legal documents or as summaries of the text that follows them. In academic writing, headnotes are explanatory notes included with tables and figures. They are placed below the table itself or just below the figure title and typed in a font size that is smaller than the main text (e.g., 8- or 10-point font). Headnotes are used to define acronyms used, units of measure, significance, etc. Because tables and figures should be able to “stand alone” without the main text, headnotes should always be used.

Format for Footnotes, Endnotes, and Headnotes

Although the format for footnotes and endnotes is almost similar, there are specific rules depending on the journal where the paper is submitted. Most scientific journals use specific reference formats; however, some style guides do not allow footnotes and endnotes.

For example, the Modern Language Association (MLA), which deals specifically with disciplines in the humanities allows limited use of footnotes. These are to provide the reader with other sources for more information on the subject covered. The MLA style for these notes is shown in the example below and the number corresponds to the superscript number noted in the referenced text:

See [name of author], especially chapters 3 and 4, for an insightful analysis of this trend.

MLA suggests using “content” footnotes when necessary to avoid interrupting the text with an explanation or other details.

In contrast, the American Psychological Association (APA), the style for the behavioral and social sciences, does not usually allow footnotes. Your particular journal guidelines will provide that information.

A third style guide, the American Medical Association (AMA) , is used mostly with papers in the biological and medical sciences. AMA also discourages the use of footnotes but allows them on the title page. The information on the title page would include the authors’ names and affiliations, corresponding author, members of affiliated groups, etc.

Pros and Cons

Scientific papers do not usually include footnotes. Endnotes may be used sometimes, but sparingly. Other disciplines, such as law and history, still use them regularly . There are pros and cons to each.

The advantages of using footnotes are that they provide the reader with a fast reference and link to additional information. They are easy to insert and will automatically print. The advantage of using endnotes instead of footnotes is that their placement is less distracting. They also provide the reader with an easy reference list in one place.

According to the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), endnotes are preferred to footnotes simply because they don’t clutter up a page. CMOS does caution that it can seem disconcerting to a reader to see pages of notes at the end of a chapter or book, so use them sparingly.

Again, another disadvantage to footnotes is that they tend to interrupt the flow of the text. The reader might feel that he must stop and look at the note before moving on, which can be very distracting. Some disadvantages to endnotes are that the reader must turn to the end of the text or chapter to find the additional information. In books with several chapters, this can be tedious, especially if the endnotes are renumbered in each chapter.

As for headnotes, there are really no drawbacks to using them in tables and figures. They offer the reader helpful information that is readily available as they read the data or interpret a figure.

Bottom Line

The style to which you conform when writing your paper will ultimately depend on the journal’s guidelines. Pay careful attention to its protocols for citations and references and whether it will allow footnotes and endnotes. If allowed, be mindful of the disadvantages of both and consider either greatly limiting them or eliminating them altogether.

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How to Format Your Research Paper

How to Create Footnotes

What Are They

Footnotes are short numbered notes that are placed at the bottom of the page in an essay or article. They are used for a variety of reasons including, citing materials, providing notes on a source or topic, and to acknowledge copyright status. 

Although you will find footnotes in many journal articles, they are not typically required in APA or MLA formatted essays. They are most heavily used when applying the CMOS style. 

For information on footnotes in the  Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association  see section 2.13 "Footnotes.". For information on using footnotes with MLA see the " Using Notes in MLA Style " article from the MLA Style Center .  For information on footnotes in  The Chicago Manual of Style  see Chapter 14 "Notes and Bibliography."

Using Google Docs:

Using Microsoft Word:

To cite this LibGuide use the following templates:

APA : Northern Essex Community College Library. (Date updated). Title of page . Title of LibGuide. URL

MLA : Northern Essex Community College Library. "Title of Page." Title of LibGuide, Date updated, URL.

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how to write footnote in research paper

How to Write Footnotes

Information on how to write footnotes and endnotes. Footnotes, a type of citation format, are most often used for history and philosophy papers. As such, scientists rarely encounter it, but it is still useful to know how to follow the practice.

This article is a part of the guide:

Browse Full Outline

Many biology journals, for example, prefer footnotes because they allow annotation of the in-text citation on the same page.

Whilst footnotes are a little more cumbersome than the 'author/date' system, they are useful where sources require elaboration and short explanatory notes.

how to write footnote in research paper

What is a Footnote

The footnote takes the form of a superscripted number, just after a paraphrased piece of information. Subsequently, a cross-reference to this number is inserted at the bottom of the same page.

In fact, for dissertations and theses, many writers use footnotes to keep track of their citations , adding a short note of what exactly each one adds to the paper.

Once the paper is complete, the writer converts them to endnotes at the end or every chapter, or even removes them all together, and uses a standard APA or MLA bibliography instead.

how to write footnote in research paper

Automatically Inserting Footnotes

The reason that footnotes are still popular in some fields is that most word processing programs now include a function that makes it very easy to include footnotes in any paper.

In Microsoft Word, clicking Insert > Reference > Footnote allows you to insert footnotes automatically, and automatically numbers them. This function is so useful, that even if you cut and paste, and swap information around, it automatically adjusts the footnotes.

This is why it is an excellent resource for keeping track of your sources during the course of a research paper .

How to Write Footnotes - Protocols

If you are using footnotes, the common convention is to insert a full citation, including author, year and the title of the book, followed by the page number. Afterwards, the surname of the author and the page number is sufficient.

Older journals often use the word ibid, to show that a footnote uses the same source as the previous one, but this has become much rarer.

Martyn Shuttleworth (Nov 21, 2009). How to Write Footnotes. Retrieved Mar 06, 2023 from

You Are Allowed To Copy The Text

The text in this article is licensed under the Creative Commons-License Attribution 4.0 International (CC BY 4.0) .

This means you're free to copy, share and adapt any parts (or all) of the text in the article, as long as you give appropriate credit and provide a link/reference to this page.

That is it. You don't need our permission to copy the article; just include a link/reference back to this page. You can use it freely (with some kind of link), and we're also okay with people reprinting in publications like books, blogs, newsletters, course-material, papers, wikipedia and presentations (with clear attribution).

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how to write footnote in research paper

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How to Write a Research Paper: Use Footnotes or Endnotes or Parentheses to Document Sources

how to write footnote in research paper

If you don't give credit to your sources, it's plagiarism

Use footnotes or endnotes or parentheses to document sources.

Sample Footnotes/Endnotes

(bottom of the same page for footnotes, separate page for endnotes)

The paragraph on Everest is taken from a research paper submitted by Alexandra Ferber, grade 9. This paragraph may not be reproduced without permission.

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How to Create Footnotes or Endnotes in Chicago Style

How do I Create a Footnote or Endnote?

Using footnotes or endnotes involves placing a superscript number at the end of a sentence with information (paraphrase, quotation or data) that you wish to cite. The superscript numbers should generally be placed at the end of the sentence to which they refer. They should be placed after any punctuation marks except for the dash.

Footnotes/endnotes begin with 1 and are numbered consecutively throughout the entire essay. You can use MS Word or other software to create footnotes and endnotes.

How is a Footnote different from an Endnote?

 A superscript number refers to a footnote or endnote which contains all of the publishing information and the page number for the information referenced.

Many professors prefer footnotes to endnotes. Check with your professors to see which style they prefer.

What do I Include in the Footnote or Endnote?

The format for a footnote or endnote varies depending on whether it refers to a book, article, or online source. There are some key characteristics common to all footnotes and endnotes:

For example:

1. Carolyn Kay,  Art and the German Bourgeoisie:  Alfred Lichtwark and Modern Painting in Hamburg, 1886-1914  (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2002), 100.

Subsequent footnote/endnotes for the same source are shortened to provide only the author’s last name, short title, and page number. For example:

2. Kay,  Art and the German Bourgeoisie , 51.

3. Kay, Art and the German Bourgeoisie, 87.

Note that The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.) no longer recommends the use of "ibid." for footnote/endnotes that cite the same source as the note immediately preceding it. The shortened citation shown above (author surname, shortened title, page number) is preferred.

Citing different types of sources

The information you include in a footnote varies based on the type of source you cite; navigate to the following pages to learn more:

Key Elements to Notice

Documentation Guide

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How to Create Footnotes in Research Papers

When writing a thesis or an academic paper, we heavily rely on previously published sources. To avoid plagiarism, they have to be cited both in the main body of text as well as in Bibliography (also known as References, or Works Cited), following the formatting rules stipulated by the style guide of your choice.

However, on occasion, it might be more appropriate to draw the reader’s attention to a specific source, or provide additional explanation by using footnotes. Moreover, they are useful when wishing to add additional explanatory material or an aside comment that does not fit within the flow of text in the body of the document. Unlike references, which are included at the end of the paper or a thesis, footnotes appear at the bottom of the page they are referred to, and are separated from the main body of text by a horizontal line, which makes it easy to find related information. Note that the font they are written in is typically several sizes smaller than the main text, making the distinction between the two clear.

Footnotes are anchored to a specific word in the text by using a note reference mark, which is typically an Arabic numeral, as an indication to the reader that more information related to that item is given in the corresponding footnote. As more footnotes are added, they are numbered sequentially, making cross-referencing easy.

Note that Endnotes are exactly the same as Footnotes, but they appear at the end of the document. Although ideally only one format should be used, a single document can have both footnotes and endnotes, whereby they are distinguished in the text by using different note reference marks (e.g. Arabic numerals for footnotes and Roman for endnotes).

However, some style guides do not recommend use of footnotes. Moreover, some publishers frown upon them, as it makes book typesetting and page formatting harder and more costly. Nonetheless, they are useful referencing tool, as they place comment and references in the right context.

The instructions on how to create footnotes, as well as some examples of footnote formats are given below.

When creating footnotes in Word, begin by positioning the insertion point where you want the note reference mark to appear and follow these simple steps:

1. Point to Reference on the Insert menu, and click Footnote, whereby Footnote and Endnote dialog box will appear.

2. In the dialog box, select Footnotes, followed by clicking the Insert button at the bottom of the dialog box.

The note reference mark will appear at the insertion point in the document, which will be automatically numbered. If this is the first entry, the number will, of course be 1, and will increase as more footnotes are added. At the same time, a note reference mark with the same number is inserted at the bottom of the page, where you can type relevant information.

Note that if you reposition the note reference marks within the text, the footnotes will automatically follow and the rest will be renumbered, so that the sequence is maintained. Similarly, if a footnote is removed, the gap in numbering is closed, leaving the rest of the entries intact.

When only an aside comment is given, the footnote format is free and does not have to follow any specific style. However, when citing reference sources, strict rules apply.

As footnotes are most widely used in publications written in Chicago style, some examples are given below.

Chicago style footnotes:

Citing book with two authors

First reference:

Michael C. Smith and Ken Jones, How to use footnotes according to Chicago style guide (New York: Publisher, 2010), 72.

Subsequent references to the above source (note the abbreviated book title):

Smith and Jones, How to use footnotes, 61.

Citing a journal article

Michael C. Smith, “The specifics of the Chicago style guide on creating footnotes,” Journal title 124 (2007): 109.

Subsequent references to the above source (note the abbreviated article title):

Smith, “Chicago style,” 107–8.

For more information on how to create footnotes for other types of sources, visit specific style guide websites, or seek help of professional editors, who can help you present your thesis in any style of your choice, leaving you free to concentrate on your research.

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How to Use Footnotes in Research Papers

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A footnote is a reference, explanation, or comment 1 placed below the main text on a printed page. Footnotes are identified in the text by a numeral  or a  symbol .  

In research papers and reports , footnotes commonly acknowledge the sources of facts and quotations that appear in the text.

" Footnotes are the mark of a scholar," says Bryan A. Garner. "Overabundant, overflowing footnotes are the mark of an insecure scholar — often one who gets lost in the byways of analysis and who wants to show off" ( Garner's Modern American Usage , 2009).

Examples and Observations

1 "The footnote has figured prominently in the fictions of such leading contemporary novelists as Nicholson Baker 2 , David Foster Wallace 3 , and Dave Eggers. These writers have largely revived the digressive function of the footnote." (L. Douglas and A. George, Sense and Nonsensibility: Lampoons of Learning and Literature . Simon and Schuster, 2004)

2 "[T]he great scholarly or anecdotal footnotes of Lecky, Gibbon, or Boswell, written by the author of the book himself to supplement, or even correct over several later editions, what he says in the primary text, are reassurances that the pursuit of truth doesn't have clear outer boundaries: it doesn't end with the book; restatement and self-disagreement and the enveloping sea of referenced authorities all continue. Footnotes are the finer-suckered surfaces that allow tentacular paragraphs to hold fast to the wider reality of the library." (Nicholson Baker, The Mezzanine . Weidenfeld and Nicholson, 1988)

3 "One of the odd pleasures in reading the work of the late David Foster Wallace is the opportunity to escape from the main text to explore epic footnotes , always rendered at the bottoms of pages in thickets of tiny type." (Roy Peter Clark, The Glamour of Grammar . Little, Brown, 2010)

how to write footnote in research paper

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What Are Footnotes? | Guide with Word Instructions

Published on March 28, 2022 by Jack Caulfield . Revised on June 7, 2022.

Footnotes are notes placed at the bottom of the page in a piece of academic writing and indicated in the text with superscript numbers (or sometimes letters or other symbols). You can insert footnotes automatically in Word or Google Docs . They’re used to provide:

What Are Footnotes

Table of contents

How to insert footnotes in word and google docs, numbering and placement of footnotes, footnotes in chicago style, footnotes in apa style, footnotes in mla style, frequently asked questions about footnotes and endnotes.

If you’re writing in Microsoft Word or in Google Docs, it’s easy to insert footnotes automatically using the built-in functionality of the software.

Most style guidelines are flexible enough that these automatically inserted footnotes meet their requirements, so that you don’t have to worry about the specifics of formatting.

Inserting footnotes in Word

It’s straightforward to insert footnotes in Word. Just follow these steps:

Inserting footnotes in Google Docs

You can also easily add footnotes in Google Docs. Follow the steps below:

Footnotes should be numbered consecutively in the order they appear throughout your paper. Each note should have a unique number; don’t use the same number again even if you cite the same source repeatedly.

Footnote numbers are usually placed at the end of the relevant clause or sentence. The number appears after any punctuation, except when the clause ends with an em dash , in which case the number appears before it. Don’t add a space before the number.

Prevent plagiarism. Run a free check.

Chicago style uses footnotes for citations (unless you’re following Chicago author-date ). Footnotes can also be used to add extra information such as commentary on the source cited, or elaborations on a point you touched on in the main text.

In Chicago footnotes , you place a footnote at the end of the clause or sentence that needs a citation. The footnote contains full information about each source the first time you cite it, and shortened information for subsequent citations of the same source.

       1. Tegan George and Jack Caulfield, “Academic Integrity vs. Academic Dishonesty,” March 10, 2022,

 2. George and Caulfield, “Academic Integrity.”

Full information about all your sources is usually included in a bibliography at the end, except in very short papers, where footnote citations may be used alone if your institution allows it.

Chicago recommends using your word processor’s built-in footnote function to add footnotes, but a couple of formatting details may need to be changed manually:

APA footnotes are used only for providing extra information, since APA in-text citations appear in parentheses instead.

You can use them to provide supplemental information such as additional examples or clarifications; do this sparingly, as APA warns against including nonessential information. Footnotes are also used to provide copyright attribution when it’s needed.

               1 From What Parents Can Expect in Behavior Therapy , by Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, 2017 ( In the public domain.

              2 A second round of testing was initially planned, but this idea was abandoned due to …

APA recommends using your word processing software to automatically insert footnotes, but add an indent at the start of each footnote if this isn’t done automatically. The footnote begins with the superscript footnote number followed by a space.

MLA footnotes are used to provide supplemental information such as extra examples, clarifications of citation practice, or elaborations on ideas.

MLA in-text citations appear in parentheses, not in notes, but where a lot of citations are needed at once, they can be placed in a footnote to avoid cluttering the text.

           1 Citations of marginalia refer to George’s edition and include page numbers. Citations of the poem refer to Davis’s edition and include line numbers.

        2 This remains a controversial point. Researchers in the field have debated this issue since …

            3 See Crittenden 5–11; Kent 17–34; Smith 44–50; and Jones 36.

MLA recommends using your word processor to automatically insert footnotes, styling the number at the start of the citation in superscript, followed by a space. An indent should also be added at the start of the footnote (before the number).

Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page they refer to. This is convenient for the reader but may cause your text to look cluttered if there are a lot of footnotes.

Endnotes appear all together at the end of the whole text. This may be less convenient for the reader but reduces clutter.

Both footnotes and endnotes are used in the same way: to cite sources or add extra information. You should usually choose one or the other to use in your text, not both.

Footnotes are notes indicated in your text with numbers and placed at the bottom of the page. They’re used to provide:

Be sparing in your use of footnotes (other than citation footnotes), and consider whether the information you’re adding is relevant for the reader.

To insert a footnote automatically in a Word document:

If you need to change the type of notes used in a Word document from footnotes to endnotes , or the other way around, follow these steps:

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If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.

Caulfield, J. (2022, June 07). What Are Footnotes? | Guide with Word Instructions. Scribbr. Retrieved March 6, 2023, from

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Footnote Examples and Format Tips

open book showing footnotes

Footnotes are used in some books and research work, particularly work published in the social sciences discipline. Footnotes are intended to provide readers with further information or to share copyright permission information.

A few footnote usage rules:

While APA style discourages the use of footnotes in most circumstances, footnotes are used in the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS).

Footnotes in Research

Footnote Format Examples

Sample footnote #1.

Text within the research paper:

It is well known that patients who suffer from Crohn’s and Colitis can have many debilitating symptoms.¹

¹See the website for more information about the symptoms that Crohn’s and Colitis patients may experience.

Sample Footnote #2

A variety of research suggests that developing basic literacy skills in early childhood can contribute to greater success in acquiring strong comprehension skills later in school.²

²A variety of research based articles and ideas for developing early learning skills can be found at

Sample Footnote #3

While it is generally assumed that all large dogs are in need of copious amounts of exercise that would prevent them from being suitable pets for smaller residences, recent research has suggested this is a fallacy.³

³See Smith (2013) to see more information specific to large dogs and exercise needs.

Sample Footnote #4

In many states, malpractice lawsuit filings have limitations that may prevent the injured from pursuing the route necessary to receive compensation for injuries due to negligence by doctors, nurses, or other hospital staff.4

4Refer to Johannsen (2007) to access information about limitations by state.

Sample Footnote #5

While most candy and sweet treats are believed to have a negative effect on those with, or susceptible to getting, diabetes, more research is supporting the idea that chocolate, when consumed in moderation, can have positive effects on the body.5

5Refer to Braunshweig (2011) for specific benefits of chocolate consumption.

Sample Footnote #6

The development of aptitude with technology in young children should not overshadow the necessity of play which is crucial to building important gross and fine motor skills in early childhood.6

6See Harsenwusen (2014) for research demonstrating the lack of motor skill development in young children using tablets for more than an hour each day.

Sample Footnote #7

Interstitial cystitis is a condition that can cause pain and embarrassment for women of any age, and affects many aspects of her life.7

7See for more information on the debilitating effects interstitial cystitis can have.

Sample Footnote #8: Copyright Permission

From: “How To Raise a Technologically Competent Child,” by Smuten, F. and Dorgwab, T., 2011, Journal of Early Childhood Development, 76, page 23. Copyright 2011 by Dragon Press. Reprinted with Permission.

These are all examples of footnotes in different contexts.

How to Write Footnotes in MLA and APA

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You were trying to get away from footnotes by creating your paper in MLA or APA format, but you just can’t avoid them. Remember that footnotes in MLA or APA are a rare occurrence. You’ll only use MLA 8 or APA 7 footnotes to make bibliographic, content, or copyright notes. Basically, you’re just going to give your reader a little extra information that wouldn’t fit in the text. Now that you know when you’ll use them, dive into how to write an example footnote citation for your MLA or  APA paper.

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When to Use Footnote Citations in MLA

Your professor has asked for footnote citations, and now you’re freaking out. Thankfully, MLA footnotes are simple. MLA footnotes serve two purposes.

Creating an MLA Footnote Example

When it comes to MLA footnotes, it is all about style. View these MLA footnote examples to create a bibliographic and parenthetical citation.

How to Create an MLA Parenthetical Footnote Citation

Denoting a footnote in MLA style requires a number in superscript. Try to place this at the end of a sentence. It should come after punctuation or quotes. However, in some cases, it’ll make the most sense to have the superscript number in the middle of a sentence.

MLA Footnote Example: In-Text

Alaskans must avoid their father during the time of puberty. 1  In that area, obstacles come in to “keep the men and women separated.” 2  The men and women in stories are kept separate, 3  and this might be due to some financial obstacle.

How to Write a Footnote Citation in MLA

Place footnotes at the bottom of the page in their own special section. Follow the same numerical order on the page. Firstly, start each note with the superscript number that corresponds with the in-text citation. Then, remember that bibliographical notes provide citations similar to the works cited and vary based on the source. By contrast, content notes will point the reader to where more information can be found.

MLA  Bibliographic Citation Footnote Format & Example

Format: 1 Author’s Name, Title of Work in Quotes (City: Publisher, Year) Page Number.

Example: 1 Sigmund Freud,  Totem and Taboo  (New York: Random, 1918) 26.

MLA Content Note Citation Footnote Format & Example

Format: 2 See Author’s Last Name, especially (insert important pages), what it will show or prove.

Example: 2 See Green, especially 1-8, to show the different courtship principles.

Student writing footnotes for research paper

When to Include APA Footnotes

APA format  doesn’t generally recommend you write footnotes at all. You’ll typically opt for parenthetical references instead. Even so, there may come a time when you are unable to avoid footnotes. Like MLA, this happens in two instances.

How to Create APA In-Text Footnote

To create a footnote in APA style , you’ll add a superscript number after the punctuation. The exceptions are dashes and parentheses. Place footnote numbers before dashes and inside parentheses. See how this works in the example.

APA Footnote Example: In-Text

Journalists examined –over several years 1 — the ancient tools used in photojournalism. 2  (These can be seen in the Cambridge Museum. 3 )

Formatting Footnote Citation in APA

The formatting for content footnotes and copyright footnotes is different. However, each will start with the superscript number in the related text. See these examples.

APA Format & Example for Content Note Citation

Format: 1 See Author’s Last Name (Publication Year), especially (insert important pages, chapter, etc.), for more information on (insert what you are providing more information on).

Example: 1 See Burquest (2010), especially chapter 5, for more information on this journalist’s theory.

APA Format & Example for Copyright Note Citation 

Format: 2  From the chapter “Chapter Name” A. Author and B. Author, Publication Date, Title of Work , Vol., Page Number. Copyright Date by Copyright Holder. Reprinted with permission.

Example: 2  From the chapter “Theories of Photojournalism” W. Jones and R. Smith, 2010,  Photojournalism , 21, p. 122. Copyright 2007 by Copyright Holder. Reprinted with permission.

Where to Place APA Footnotes and Endnotes

When you write footnotes, you can choose to format them at the bottom of the page (footnotes) or on a separate page at the end of the paper (endnotes). Place your endnotes after the reference list on a separate page with its own title: Endnotes. This is where you can list all your notes.

Footnote vs. Bibliography or References

Bibliographies, references, and footnotes all work to relay information about the text. However, the information you’ll find in each is different. Bibliographies and references offer full citations of the works that were used to create the different arguments and concepts in the text.

Footnotes, on the other hand, provide bibliographical information in tricky situations. They can also provide further context that doesn’t fit in the body of the writing. Additionally, footnotes are set off with superscript numbers and found at the end of the page, while bibliographies and references are their own entity at the end of the entire research paper or essay.

Using Footnotes in MLA or APA

Footnotes are a great tool for helping to clarify thoughts in a paper or get rid of confusion caused by overly long bibliographical citations. While they can be scary to create your first time, footnotes serve a unique purpose in keeping your writing clear and concise.

Creating an Endnote in a Research Paper

FAQ How to Write Footnotes in MLA and APA

How do you write footnotes in mla.

To write footnotes in MLA, you will include a superscript number after the quoted material. The format of the footnote varies based on its use. The two types of footnotes in MLA include content notes or bibliographical citations. Content notes provide further explanation, while bibliographical citations replace complicated citations.

Can you use footnotes in MLA?

Yes, you can use footnotes in MLA style, but they are not common. They can be used to provide additional content or if the bibliographic citation is complicated.

What is a footnote example?

In both MLA and APA, a footnote example includes the citation found at the bottom, or foot, of the page corresponding to the superscript number found in the body of the work. The footnote might consist of the type of work and author’s name along with other information related to the type of citation.

How is a footnote supposed to look?

The look of a footnote varies based on the information it is conveying. However, footnotes are indicated by a superscript number in the body of the work. The citation for that information is at the foot of the page. Hence, the name 'foot' note.

What goes in a footnote?

The information included in the footnote depends on what it’s being used for. A bibliographical citation is used to replace parenthetical citations that are complicated. Content notes add additional information to justify or explain a point. Copyright permissions provide information about the copyrighted material in the quote.

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How to Make an Outline for Your School Essay

Bibliography examples for students, et al. and other latin abbreviations, how to add or insert citations in word quickly.

Organizing Your Social Sciences Research Paper

Endnote Note citing a particular source or making a brief explanatory comment placed at the end of a research paper and arranged sequentially in relation to where the reference appears in the paper.

Footnote Note citing a particular source or making a brief explanatory comment placed at the bottom of a page corresponding to the item cited in the corresponding text above.

Fiske, Robert Hartwell. To the Point: A Dictionary of Concise Writing . New York: W.W. Norton and Company, 2014.

Structure and Writing Style

Advantages of Using Endnotes

Disadvantages of Using Endnotes

Advantages of Using Footnotes

Disadvantages of Using Footnotes

Things to keep in mind when considering using either endnotes or footnotes in your research paper :

1.    Footnotes are numbered consecutively throughout a research paper, except for those notes accompanying special material (e.g., figures, tables, charts, etc.). Numbering of footnotes are "superscript"--Arabic numbers typed slightly above the line of text. Do not include periods, parentheses, or slashes. They can follow all punctuation marks except dashes. In general, to avoid interrupting the continuity of the text, footnote numbers are placed at the end of the sentence, clause, or phrase containing the quoted or paraphrased material. 2.    Depending on the writing style used in your class, endnotes may take the place of a list of resources cited in your paper or they may represent non-bibliographic items, such as comments or observations, followed by a separate list of references to the sources you cited and arranged alphabetically by the author's last name. If you are unsure about how to use endnotes, consult with your professor. 3.    In general, the use of footnotes in most academic writing is now considered a bit outdated and has been replaced by endnotes, which are much easier to place in your paper, even with the advent of word processing programs. However, some disciplines, such as law and history, still predominantly utilize footnotes. Consult with your professor about which form to use and always remember that, whichever style of citation you choose, apply it consistently throughout your paper.

NOTE:   Always think critically about the information you place in a footnote or endnote. Ask yourself, is this supplementary or tangential information that would otherwise disrupt the narrative flow of the text or is this essential information that I should integrate into the main text? If you are not sure, it's better to work it into the text. Too many notes implies a disorganized paper.

Cermak, Bonni and Jennifer Troxell. A Guide to Footnotes and Endnotes for NASA History Authors . NASA History Program. History Division; Hale, Ali. Should You Use Footnotes or Endnotes?; Tables, Appendices, Footnotes and Endnotes. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Lunsford, Andrea A. and Robert Connors. The St. Martin's Handbook . New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989; Saller, Carol. “Endnotes or Footnotes? Some Considerations.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 58 (January 6, 2012):


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