Footnotes in Academic Works - Types, Features, Rules of Use

Footnotes in Academic Works - Types, Features, Rules of Use

In order to get an A for the academic assignment, you need not only to be able to write a paper well from the content perspective but also to properly format it, paper footnotes in particular. This is what many students get stuck with. Paper formatting in MLA or APA doesn’t usually cause trouble to students, the situation might be different when you need to do the same in Chicago or Harvard citation styles. For you not to lose valuable points due to incorrect footnote formatting or the mixed order of source information, we have prepared some basic tips for you. Follow the rules, and you will always know what to do with footnotes in your paper.

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Why are footnotes important?

It is sometimes impossible to write a consistent and all-covering paper without using “external” literature. And it is footnotes that address the pieces of information/ sources being used/ rephrased/ cited. In other words, footnotes are needed to indicate where each of the specific pieces in your work comes from. Thus, you substantiate your research by referring to an expert author or a scientist. Footnotes allow a teacher to clearly see what and where the data come from. He can assess the credibility of the sources and the depth of your research by taking a look at footnotes.

Footnotes are used to cite sources and provide relevant commentary. Here are some of the specs to be aware of:

  • Include a footnote each time you use a source, no matter whether you quote the author directly or just paraphrase his ideas.
  • Footnotes should be added at the end of the page the source is referenced on, with endnotes being listed at the end of each chapter or at the end of the entire document. The footnote number will “send” the reader down the page with additional information about the source.
  • Footnote numbers should be placed at the end of the clause or a sentence they refer to and should (just after a punctuation mark, except for the dash).
  • Footnote numbers should begin with “1” and follow consecutively throughout the entire paper, article, or chapter.
  • You can use the pagination of footnotes. If you choose this option, the first footnote of each page will be numbered with “1.”
  • If you turn to the already cited work on the next page, you must re-submit the full bibliographic description as well as a footnote.

Just follow the above rules - and you will never have problems with footnotes and endnotes formatting in your academic paper. Cannot remember them? Just like with the essay writing checklist, it will be useful to have something similar for footnote formatting rules.

Source description formatting

In order to understand how to properly format footnotes in an academic paper, you also need to know how to correctly describe the source itself. So what information should be included in endnotes and what order should be followed? 

  • Here is a short guide for you not to mix the data order:
  • Surname and initials of the author. If there are several authors, they are indicated in the same order as written in the source itself.
  • The full name of the source. Volumes and parts are also indicated in the endnote entry.
  • If you use not the original source but its translated version, the name of the translator is indicated in a footnote entry.
  • The city of the source publication.
  • The name of the publisher.
  • The year of the source release.
  • The page.


When citing a book:

  1. Bruno Latour, Reassembling the Social: An Introduction to Actor-Network Theory (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2005), 122.

When citing a periodical:

  1. Nicholas Thomas, “Pedagogy and the Work of Michel Foucault,” JAC 28, no.1-2 (2008): 153.

When citing an online source:

  1. Gueorgi Kossinets and Duncan J. Watts, “Origins of Homophily in an Evolving Social Network,” American Journal of Sociology 115 (2009): 411, doi:10.1086/599247.

Format footnotes and endnotes based on the source type you are citing. Make sure that every time you are citing a source, you include a footnote in a text.  

Need footnote formatting help?

In case footnote formatting is too challenging for you, it is better to address the assignment to those who know everything about it. Our writing experts are always ready to lend you a helping hand and assist with formatting footnotes/ endnotes, bibliography page, or the entire work. Let us know what you need us to help you with, and we professionally handle the task.