Nathan D.
Nathan D.

How to Use Footnotes in Citation

6 min read

Published on: Jun 21, 2024

Last updated on: Jul 17, 2024

Footnotes

If you are writing an academic paper, you may need to use footnotes to cite your sources, provide additional information, or comment on your arguments. 

But what are footnotes exactly, and how do you use them correctly? 

In this blog post, we will explain what footnotes are, why they are important, and how to use them in different citation styles. We will also show you how to insert footnotes in Word and Google Docs. 

So, let’s dive right in!

What are Footnotes?

Footnotes are small numbers in the text that appear at the bottom of a page in a document. They are marked by a superscript number in the main text, such as this [1]. 

Footnotes sample

Footnotes usually contain one of the following types of information:

Citations:

Footnotes can be used to cite the sources of your information, such as books, articles, websites, etc. 

Additional information: 

Footnotes can be used to provide additional information that is relevant but not essential to your main argument, such as definitions, examples, clarifications, etc.

Comments: 

Footnotes can be used to comment on your arguments, such as acknowledging limitations, alternative perspectives, implications, etc. 

Footnotes in Different Citation Styles

Depending on the citation style you are using, the format and content of your footnotes may vary. Here are some general guidelines for using footnotes in the citation styles that commonly use footnotes. 

Creating Footnotes in MLA Style

MLA footnotes are mainly for additional or supplemental information, not for citations. 

For example:

Chocolate, a beloved treat enjoyed worldwide, has been the subject of numerous studies exploring its impact on mood and cognitive function. 1

_________________

1 Chocolate has been linked to improved serotonin levels and stress reduction.

Creating Footnotes in APA Style

In APA style, footnotes are mainly for comments, not for citations. If you need to comment on your argument, such as acknowledging a limitation or an implication, you can use an APA footnote instead. 

For example:

Studies suggest that the flavonoids in chocolate contribute to its cognitive benefits.1

_________________

1 It's essential to note that the studies mentioned primarily focus on dark chocolate; the effects of milk chocolate on cognitive function are less researched.

Creating Footnotes in Chicago Style

Footnotes in Chicago are used mainly for citations or in-text citations

Citations are done in footnotes, following the notes-bibliography format.

For example:

The sensory delights of chocolate have been explored extensively, revealing its impact on mood and cognitive performance2.

_________________

Brown, Emily. "Chocolate: A Multisensory Experience." Gastronomy Studies, vol. 12, no. 3, 2017, pp. 112-129. 

Inserting Footnotes

Now that you know what footnotes are and how to use them in different citation styles, you may wonder how to insert them in your document. 

Fortunately, most word processors have built-in features that can help you insert footnotes easily and automatically. 

Here are some simple steps for inserting footnotes in Word and Google Docs.

How to Add Footnotes In Google Docs

To insert a footnote in Google Docs, follow these steps:

  • Place your cursor where you want to insert the footnote number in the main text.

Creating footnotes in Google Docs Step 1

  • Click on the Insert tab in the menu bar.

Creating footnotes in Google Docs Step 2

  • Click on Footnote in the drop-down menu.

Creating footnotes in Google Docs Step 3

  • Repeat steps 1-3 for each footnote you want to insert. 
  • Google Docs will automatically adjust the numbering and the spacing of your footnotes.

How to Add Footnotes in Word

To insert a footnote in Word, follow these steps:

  • Place your cursor where you want to insert the footnote number in the main text.
  • Click on the References tab in the menu.
  • Click on the Insert Footnote button in the Footnotes group. This will insert a superscript number in the main text and a corresponding number at the bottom of the page. 
  • Repeat steps 1-3 for each footnote you want to insert. Word will automatically adjust the numbering and the spacing of your footnotes.

Why Should You Use Footnotes?

Footnotes have several benefits for academic writing, such as:

Credibility: 

Footnotes can help you establish your credibility as a writer by showing that you have done your research and that you can support your claims with evidence.

Accuracy: 

Footnotes can help you avoid plagiarism by giving proper credit to the original authors of your sources. 

Readability: 

Footnotes can help you improve the readability of your text by separating the main text from the supplementary information. 

Footnotes vs. Endnotes

Footnotes and endnotes are similar in function, but they differ in placement. Let’s take a look at the difference:

Footnotes

Endnotes 

Appear at the bottom of the page.

Appears at the end of the document or chapter on a separate page.

Common in academic writing, especially in humanities.     

More common in scholarly books, often in disciplines such as history and law.

Enhances readability by providing immediate context or clarification.

Less direct context as they don't disrupt the flow of the text on each page.

Try PerfectEssayWriter.ai’s Free Citation Machine

If you need help with formatting your citations, you can try our free citation generator online. Our citation machine can generate citations in various citation styles, such as MLA, APA, Chicago, and more. 

All you need to do is enter the details of your source, such as the author, title, publisher, etc., and our citation machine will do the rest.

Try our citation machine today and save time and hassle with your academic writing.

Nathan D.

WRITTEN BY

Nathan D. (Literary analysis)

Introducing Nathan D., PhD, an esteemed author on PerfectEssayWriter.ai. With a profound background in Literary Analysis and expertise in Educational Theories, Nathan brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to his writings. His passion for dissecting literature and exploring educational concepts shines through in his meticulously crafted essays and analyses. As a seasoned academic, Nathan's contributions enrich our platform, offering valuable perspectives and engaging content for our readers.

Introducing Nathan D., PhD, an esteemed author on PerfectEssayWriter.ai. With a profound background in Literary Analysis and expertise in Educational Theories, Nathan brings a wealth of knowledge and insight to his writings. His passion for dissecting literature and exploring educational concepts shines through in his meticulously crafted essays and analyses. As a seasoned academic, Nathan's contributions enrich our platform, offering valuable perspectives and engaging content for our readers.

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