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Using Footnotes in APA


Generally using footnotes is associated with Chicago notes-biblio style but other styles do use them sometimes.  In APA style, use footnotes only when you absolutely must, and, ask your instructor, as well. The purpose of footnotes is to add to or clarify a point or simply to add copyright information.

Student adding Footnotes in APA

APA Footnotes

There are two types of footnotes used in APA.

1. Content Footnotes

Content footnotes are used to provide the reader with some extra information about the source. For example, you may want to direct the reader to another chapter in the book. Try to avoid footnotes in APA but if you must use one, keep it short and simple. For more complex ideas, add an appendix or try to incorporate it into the text itself. You may also direct the reader to online supplemental materials, if needed.


 See Lessing (2018), chapter 5, for statistical tables on cultural diversity.

2. Copyright Footnotes

If, for some reason, you need to include copyright material that exceeds fair use guidelines, you will need to obtain permission from the copyright holder. Include that permission in a copyright permission footnote. If you’ve obtained permission to use a table or infographic, include the credited source in the caption, not as a footnote.


Journal Article

From [or The data in column 1] “Title of Article,” by A.A. Author and B.B. Author, year, Title of Journal, Volume, p. xx. Copyright [year] by the Name of Copyright Holder. Reprinted [or adapted] with permission.



From [or The data in column 1] Title of Book, (p. xxx), by A.A. Author and B.B. Author, year, Place of Publication: Publisher. Copyright [year] by the Name of Copyright Holder. Reprinted [or adapted] with permission.


Numbering Footnotes

Number all footnotes consecutively in the order in which they appear in the manuscript with superscript Arabic numerals.

Superscript footnote numbers:

Format like this,1 following any punctuation except a dash
The footnote number precedes a dash2 ––
Place the footnote number (if it applies only to material within the parentheses, like this.3)


Sociologists examined—over eighteen months1—the effects of cultural diversity.2 (But only on elementary students.3)


For any subsequent references to the same footnote, include a parenthetical note

(see Footnote 1).

  • Place the footnote at the bottom of the page on which it’s discussed.
  • Double check your footnote numbers to make sure they match the correct footnote.

Since APA style does not typically use footnotes, ask your instructor for direction. For a school paper, it is best to avoid having to ask copyright permissions as it may take too long for the copyright holder to respond.

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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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