How to Do Footnotes
Footnotes are powerful tools, they are used to provide ancillary information and also citations in the footer of a page. Most often, editors of books, journals and other media will ask that parenthetical information be included in footnotes as a way to control the prose of the document. When used properly, a footnote is an excellent way to add to work or to quickly cite or reference quotes and other secondary information.
There are several footnote formats.
Method A: Footnote Citations
- Create the works cited or bibliography prior to entering footnotes. Footnotes are typically a condensed version of a citation at the conclusion of a text. Any content included in a footnote will typically be done last. Finish the paper in its entirety, including all references used, and then add footnotes.
- Navigate to the end of the sentence where the footnote will go. If you are using a word processor like Microsoft Word, navigate to the references tab and select ‘footnote’ and then ‘insert footnote’ You should see a number “1” to the right of the sentence, and another in the footer. In the footer, you will type all of the information that you want to be included in the footnote.
- The footnote symbol should be stamped after any punctuation used. The corresponding number appears outside of the sentence.
- Include the citation for a reference or quote. Should you be using a footnote in the place of an in-text citation, it is necessary to include the surname of the writer or editor, along with the title of the work, edition, series, location of publication, date of publication and the name of the publisher.
- Citation of an online resource. In order to cite a website, or another online source, in a footnote you will need the name of the writer, or the editor of the website, along with the title of the website, the URL and the date it was accessed.
Method B: Utilizing footnotes as a way of providing further information
- Using footnotes as a means to provide clarification of information to the reader. Rather than adding information about the source in the footnotes, it is possible to use the footnote as a place to provide related information – often taken from sources that are not directly cited in the body of the paper.
- Keep it brief. If an essay quotes a source that talks about something specific and you need to clarify this, the footnote after the number will be brief, direct and include citations.
- Use this method of footnote moderately. Overdrawn footnotes, with in-depth explanations, are off putting. They distract and confuse the reader. If you end up having a lot of additional information, consider adding to the body of the paragraph.
- Often time, editors will suggest that additional information be included in parenthesis. Remember to take into account the prose and the flow of information.
- Make sure that the footnote is necessary. Prior to using footnotes to further reference sources, ask your teacher how you should be citing sources and if footnotes are required. Most often MLA footnote format asks writers to make use of in-text citations, instead of a footnotes. In this case, footnotes are reserved for supplementary information.
MLA Format Examples
For anyone required to adhere to the MLA (or Modern Language Association) guidelines for footnote citation, there are a number of things that need to be done when authoring an MLA research paper that requires foot and/or endnotes.
MLA Paper Example
If you choose to indent your paragraphs as recommended in the MLA Handbook (132), begin a new paragraph by typing the first word 1/2″ (1.25 cm or 5 spaces) from the left margin. The entire essay is typed double-spaced, except for Footnote citations at the foot of the page. Title of essay centered, 1” (2.5 cm) margin on all four sides, page number at upper right hand corner 1/2″ (1.25 cm) down from the top.
If your instructor prefers that paragraphs not be indented, you must still double-space your lines, but you will need to quadruple-space between paragraphs. More empty space is created for the instructor to write comments when paragraphs are not indented.
How to Use Footnotes
Footnotes must be listed numerically and consecutively, both in your essay and in your Footnote citation. Footnote numbers must be superscripted. In your text, add a superscripted number immediately after the quote or reference cited with no space.
The Footnote citations must be added at the foot or bottom of the SAME page where you have cited the sources. All first Footnote references must be cited in full. Subsequent references of the same work may be shortened to include only the author’s last name and page number. If the source cited has no author stated, use whatever minimal information is needed to identify the work previously cited, e.g. short title and page number. Formerly, the Latin terms ibid. and op. cit. were used but they are no longer preferred.
It is recommended that you use Endnotes in place of Footnotes. This will eliminate the need to allow sufficient space to accommodate all the required Footnote entries at the bottom of the same page where your citations occur. If your instructor has no preference, use the much simpler Parenthetical Documentation in place of Footnotes or Endnotes.
For details on how to handle Footnotes that continue onto the next page, please see MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers 6th ed., pages 299-300.
Begin your Footnote citations four lines (quadruple space) below your text. Follow the spacing as shown in the example below, e.g. indent the first line 1/2″ (1.25 cm), and add a space after the superscripted number. Do not indent the second and subsequent lines of Footnotes. Single-space Footnotes within each citation as there is not much room at the bottom of the page. Double-space entries between citations, and be sure to list them in the same consecutive order as cited in the text of the essay.
Mr. K. Smith
18 April 2006
The Many Facets of Taboo
The World Book Encyclopedia defines Taboo as “an action, object, person, or place forbidden by law or culture.”1
An encyclopedia of the occult points out that taboo is found among many other cultures including the ancient Egyptians, Jews and others.2
Mary Douglas has analyzed the many facets and interpretations of taboos across various cultures. She points out that the word “taboo” originates from the Polynesian languages meaning a religious restriction.3 She finds that “taboos flow from social boundaries and support the social structure.”4
In reference to Freak Shows at circuses, Rothenberg makes the observation that people who possess uncommon features and who willingly go out in public to display such oddities to onlookers are acting as “modern-day taboo breakers” by crossing the “final boundary between societal acceptance and ostracism.”5
In traditional British East Africa, between the time of puberty and marriage, a young Akamba girl must maintain an avoidance relationship with her own father.6
Looking at taboo in a modern society, Marvin Harris gives an interesting example of the application of cultural materialism to the Hindu taboo against eating beef.7
5 Kelly Rothenberg, “Tattooed People as Taboo Figures in Modern Society,” 1996, BME/Psyber City, 18 Jan. 2005 <http://bme.freeq.com/tatoo/tattab.html>.
6 Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo (New York: Random, 1918) 17.
7 Marvin Harris, “The Cultural Ecology of India’s Sacred Cattle,” Current Anthropology 1992, 7:51-66, qtd. in Stacy McGrath, “Ecological Anthropology,” Anthropological Theories: A Guide Prepared by Students for Students 19 Oct. 2001, U. of Alabama, 18 Jan. 2005 <http://www.as.ua.edu/ant/Faculty/Murphy/ecologic.htm>.
If your instructor considers your Footnote citations to be adequate documentation, you may not be required to complete a Works Cited, References or Bibliography page. Otherwise, a separate page must be added at the end of your paper entitled: Works Cited, References, or Bibliography to include all of the above Footnote citations. See sample below.
More information about MLA Footnote format.
Douglas, Mary. “Taboo.” Man, Myth & Magic. Ed. Richard Cavendish. New ed.
21 vols. New York: Cavendish, 1994. 2546-2549.
Dundes, Alan. “Taboo.” The World Book Encyclopedia. 2000 ed.
Freud, Sigmund. Totem and Taboo. New York: Random, 1918.
McGrath, Stacy. “Ecological Anthropology.” Anthropological Theories: A Guide
Prepared by Students for Students. 19 Oct. 2001. U. of Alabama. 18 Jan. 2005
Rothenberg, Kelly. “Tattooed People as Taboo Figures in Modern Society.”
1996. BME/Psyber City. 18 Jan. 2005 <http://www.bme. freeq.com/tattoo/tattab.html>.
“Taboo.” Occultopedia: Encyclopedia of Occult Sciences and Knowledge. Site created
and designed by Marcus V. Gay. 18 Jan. 2005 <http://www.occultopedia.com/t/ taboo.htm>.
Writing an MLA style essay does not need to be an intimidating task, particularly if you’ve taken the time to create an outline, learned how to cite footnotes and created your supplementary pages (title and bibliography.) Putting forth the effort to carefully research your topic, and to create finished paper that is organized and flows nicely from one paragraph to the next is the best way to ensure that you well on your way to a passing grade and a strong career for academic writing.
Chicago/Turabian Basics: Footnotes
Why We Use Footnotes
The style of Chicago/Turabian we use requires footnotes rather than in-text or parenthetical citations. Footnotes or endnotes acknowledge which parts of their paper reference particular sources. Generally, you want to provide the author’s name, publication title, publication information, date of publication, and page number(s) if it is the first time the source is being used. Any additional usage, simply use the author’s last name, publication title, and date of publication.
Footnotes should match with a superscript number at the end of the sentence referencing the source. You should begin with 1 and continue numerically throughout the paper. Do not start the order over on each page.
In the text:
Throughout the first half of the novel, Strether has grown increasingly open and at ease in Europe; this quotation demonstrates openness and ease.1
In the footnote:
1. Henry James, The Ambassadors (Rockville: Serenity, 2009), 34-40.
When citing a source more than once, use a shortened version of the footnote.
2. James, The Ambassadors, 14.
Citing sources with more than one author
If there are two or three authors of the source, include their full names in the order they appear on the source. If there are more than three authors, list only the first author followed by “et al.” You should list all the authors in the bibliography.
John K. Smith, Tim Sampson, and Alex J. Hubbard, Example Book (New York: Scholastic, 2010), 65.
John K. Smith, Example Book (New York: Scholastic, 2010), 65.
Citing sources with other contributor information
You may want to include other contributor information in your footnotes such as editor, translator, or compiler. If there is more than one of any given contributor, include their full names in the order they appear on the source.
John Smith, Example Book, trans. Bill McCoy and Tim Thomas (New York: Random House, 2000), 15.
John Smith, Example Book, ed. Tim Thomas (New York: Random House, 1995), 19.
If the contributor is taking place of the author, use their full name instead of the author’s and provide their contribution.
John Smith, trans., Example Book (New York: Random House, 1992), 25.
Citing sources with no author
It may not be possible to find the author/contributor information; some sources may not even have an author or contributor- for instance, when you cite some websites. Simply omit the unknown information and continue with the footnote as usual.
Example Book (New York: Scholastic, 2010), 65.
Citing a part of a work
When citing a specific part of a work, provide the relevant page or section identifier. This can include specific pages, sections, or volumes. If page numbers cannot be referenced, simply exclude them. Below are different templates:
Webster’s Dictionary, vol. 4 (Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1995).
Part of a multivolume work:
John Smith, ed., “Anthology,” in Webster’s Dictionary, ed. John Smith, vol 2. of Webster’s Dictionaries (Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1995).
Chapter in a book:
Garrett P. Serviss, “A Trip of Terror,” in A Columbus of Space (New York: Appleton, 1911), 17-32.
Introduction, afterword, foreword, or preface:
Scott R Sanders, introduction to Tounchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to Present, ed. Lex Williford and Michael Martone (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007), x-xii.
Article in a periodical:
William G. Jacoby, “Public Attitudes Toward Public Spending,” American Journal of Political Science 38, no. 2 (May 1994): 336-61.
Citing group or corporate authors
In your footnotes, cite a corporate author like you would a normal author.
American Medical Association, Journal of the American Medical Association: 12-43.
Citing an entire source
When citing an entire work, there are no specific page numbers to refer to. Therefore, simply exclude the page numbers from the footnote.
John K. Smith, Example Book (New York: Scholastic, 2010).
Citing indirect sources
When an original source is unavailable, then cite the secondhand source – for instance, a lecture in a conference proceedings. If using an unpublished address, cite only in the paper/writing. If using a published address, use a footnote with the following format.
Paula Abdul mentioned in her interview on Nightline…
Zouk Mosbeh, “Localization and the Training of Linguistic Mediators for the Third Millennium,” Paper presented at The Challenges of Translation & Interpretation in the Third Millennium, Lebanon, May 17, 2002.
Citing the Bible
The title of books in the Bible should be abbreviated. Chapter and verses should be separated by a colon. You should include the version you are referencing.
Prov. 3:5-10 AV.
Citing online sources
Generally, follow the same principals of footnotes to cite online sources. Refer to the author if possible and include the URL.
Henry James, The Ambassadors (Rockville: Serenity: 2009), http://books.google.com.
Bhakti Satalkar, “Water Aerobics,” http://www.buzzle.com, (July 15, 2010).
Citing online sources with no author
If there is no author, use either the article or website title to begin the citation. Be sure to use quotes for article titles and include the URL.
“Bad Strategy: At E3, Microsoft and Sony Put Nintendo on the Defense,” BNET, www.cbsnews.com/moneywatch, (June 14, 2010)