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Footnotes or Endnotes?

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If you are writing your college paper using the notes-biblio style or if your teacher asks you to include notes in your paper, you need to know the difference between footnotes and endnotes. Typically, notes are included in Chicago notes-biblio style, but you may include them in an MLA or APA citation style school project if your instructor requires them.

student research footnotes endnotes

The difference is simple:

  • Place footnotes at the bottom of each page
  • Include endnotes at the end of the paper

Note: In a full-length book, endnotes may be at the end of each chapter. In substantive texts, you may see both endnotes and footnotes used in the paper or book. However, you will not do this in a typical research paper.

Which Format Should I Use?

Consider these factors while deciding which format to use:

Footnotes
  1. Footnotes are shorter, as author and other information may be included in the text already.
  2. Extensive footnotes detract the reader from the text.
  3. Footnotes may cause formatting issues with your paper.
Endnotes
  1. Endnotes can be distracting to the reader if s/he flips to the back of the book each time.
  2. List endnotes at the end of your research paper but before the bibliography.
  3. Pages are easier to read when the notes are placed at the end of the paper.

Note: Many times, online scholarly research articles insert hyperlinks between the note number and the actual note.

APA Footnotes

APA Style does not recommend using footnotes at all. However, as with all things, there are always exceptions. First of all, you may use a footnote in your APA paper, if you are using copyrighted material for which you requested permission. This may occur if you use extensive data from a research paper. Fair Use for students and teachers allows you to use a certain amount of copyrighted material without asking permission so check those guidelines first.

You may also use content footnotes in APA; however, again this is not suggested. Incorporate the information into your text instead.

Numbering Footnotes and Endnotes

  • Number in-text citation notes, using a superscript font, starting with #1
  • Match each number to its corresponding note either in a footnote or endnote

Using footnotes and endnotes in a paper guides the reader through the text by supplying additional information. These guidelines help you decide which format to use; however, always follow your teacher’s directions and you will be sure to turn in a top paper.

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About the author

Adrienne Mathewson

Adrienne Mathewson, Editor-in-Chief of Bibliography.com, is an Information Professional with a Master’s in Library, Information & Science from San José State University with an emphasis on information literacy and scholarly publishing. She is a certified librarian through the State of New Mexico.

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