Cathy Aranda
Cathy Aranda

How to Use MLA Footnotes & Endnotes in Your Academic Writing

6 min read

Published on: May 3, 2024

Last updated on: May 3, 2024

MLA Footnotes

Footnotes are a way of adding extra information or commentary to your text without interrupting the flow of your argument. 

They can be useful for providing additional sources, explanations, examples, or clarifications that might not fit in the main body of your paper.

In this blog post, we will explain when and how to use footnotes in your academic writing, according to MLA format. Furthermore, we will also provide some examples to help you better understand what the footnotes should look like. 

So, let’s dive right in!

When to Use MLA Footnotes

According to the Modern Language Association (MLA) Handbook, there are two types of footnotes:

  • Bibliography Notes
  • Content Notes 

Bibliographic Notes

Bibliographic notes are used to cite sources that are not directly relevant to your main point, but that might be useful for your readers to consult. 

You might use a bibliographic note to:

  • Cite a lengthy string of sources that support your claim, but that would clutter your text if you used parenthetical citations.
  • Explain an unusual documentation practice, such as using a different edition or translation of a source than the one you are citing.
  • Flag the editions and translations you are using for a particular source, especially if you are citing more than one.

Content Notes

Content notes are used to provide additional information or commentary that is not essential to your main argument, but that might be interesting or helpful for your readers. 

You might use a content note to:

  • Amplify a point that you have made in your text, but that you do not want to elaborate on too much.
  • Provide a counterargument or an alternative perspective that you do not agree with, but that you want to acknowledge.
  • Give a cross-reference to another part of your work, such as a table, a figure, or an appendix.

How to Format MLA Footnotes

To format MLA footnotes, you need to follow these steps:

  1. Insert a superscript number at the end of the sentence or clause that contains the information that you want to footnote. 
  2. Create a note at the bottom of the page, using the same number as the superscript. The note should begin with the number, followed by a period and a space. The note should be indented by half an inch from the left margin and should be double-spaced.
  3. If you are using a bibliographic note, list the sources in the same order and format as you would in your Works Cited list, using a semicolon to separate them. If you are using a content note, write the information or commentary that you want to provide, using MLA style for any citations or references.
  4. If your note is longer than one line, use a hanging indent for the subsequent lines, meaning that they should be indented by another half an inch from the first line.
  5. If you have more than one note on the same page, separate them by a single line of space. 

Examples of Footnotes in MLA Style

Here are some examples of how to use footnotes for different purposes, according to the MLA 9th edition guidelines:

To cite a lot of sources at once, you can list them in a footnote instead of in the main text.

For example:

In text: 

The concept of postcolonialism has been widely applied to various fields of study, such as literature, history, and anthropology.¹

Footnote:

¹See Said, Culture and Imperialism and Orientalism; Serres, The Natural Contract; Foucault, The Foucault Reader, esp. Part II.

To explain an unusual citation or translation practice, you can use a footnote to provide more information. 

For example:

In text: 

“Free from desire, you realize the mystery.”²

Footnote:

²This passage is alternatively translated as “the secret waits for the insight of eyes unclouded by longing.”

To provide additional examples that do not fit into the main text, you can use a footnote to elaborate on your ideas. 

For example:

In text: 

Some common types of figurative language are metaphors, similes, personification, and hyperbole.³

Footnote:

³For example, in the sentence “She was as sweet as a rose,” the word “sweet” is a metaphor that compares a person to a flower.

How to Use MLA Endnotes

Endnotes are similar to footnotes, except that they appear on a separate page, before the Works Cited page, instead of at the bottom of each page. 

To use MLA endnotes, you need to follow the same steps as for footnotes, except that you need to:

  • Insert a superscript number at the end of the sentence or clause that contains the information that you want to endnote, as you would for a footnote.
  • Create a note at the end of your work, using the same number as the superscript. The note should begin with the number, followed by a period and a space. 
  • The note should be indented by half an inch from the left margin and should be double-spaced, as you would for a footnote.
  • Start a new page for your endnotes, and label it “Notes” in the center of the page. 
  • Use Arabic numerals for your endnotes, and list them in the order that they appear in your text. Do not list them via the page numbers. 

Here is an example of how MLA endnotes look like on a page:

MLA Footnotes Example

All in all,

MLA footnotes are a useful way of adding extra information or commentary to your research paper, without interrupting the flow of your argument. 

You can use them to cite sources that are not directly relevant to your main point or provide additional information that might be helpful for your readers. 

You can revisit the blog if you have any confusion about the footnotes in MLA style.

Cite Your Sources Accurately with Our Free Tool

Citing your sources is a crucial part of academic writing, but it can be a hassle to do it manually. 

That’s why we offer a free online citation machine that can create and format your citations for you.  Just select the citation style, input your source details, and get your citations ready. 

Don’t waste time citing your sources manually. Use our MLA citation generator and get accurate citations.

Cathy Aranda

WRITTEN BY

Cathy Aranda (Mass communication)

Cathy is a highly dedicated author who has been writing for the platform for over five years. With a Master's degree in Mass Communication, she is well-versed in various forms of writing such as articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As an essay writing guide author at PerfectEssayWriter.ai, she has been helping students and professionals improve their writing skills by offering practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style.

Cathy is a highly dedicated author who has been writing for the platform for over five years. With a Master's degree in Mass Communication, she is well-versed in various forms of writing such as articles, press releases, blog posts, and whitepapers. As an essay writing guide author at PerfectEssayWriter.ai, she has been helping students and professionals improve their writing skills by offering practical tips on research, citation, sentence structure, and style.

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