Using Footnotes and Endnotes in MLA Format
Endnotes and footnotes supply your readers with additional information. Some disciplines and advanced courses require the use of one or the other, and MLA format dictates the format for both types of notes. Superscript, consecutive numbers steer readers to documentation instead of the traditional in-text citations found in MLA.
While both types of notes refer readers to sources in your Works Cited page, the difference between footnotes and endnotes lies in where they appear.
- Footnotes appear at the bottom of each individual page.
- Endnotes appear in one location at the end of your paper, but before your Works Cited.
There are two types of footnotes and endnotes:
- Explanatory notes
- Bibliographic notes
Endnotes are the type of supplemental notes preferred under the MLA format, but your assignment instructions help you know which type of note (if any) to use.
Bibliographic vs. explanatory footnotes and endnotes in MLA format
The two types of footnotes and endnotes in MLA format include explanatory and bibliographic notes.
- Bibliographic notes—These notes give your readers an additional source of information should they wish to pursue a topic. In other words, it gives them an additional source to consult. See the below examples of the footnote or endnote that would correspond to an in-text reference.
- See Ogletree, chapter three, for a more in-depth look at how dreams of this nature affect your conscious thoughts.
- For more research that found similar results, see Richter 29-39, Cook 128-131, Barnabile 49-57.
- In her first interview, Siess spoke of a different viewpoint, but that was before most of her convictions were formed on the subject (124).
Numbering footnotes and endnotes in MLA format
To mark footnotes and endnotes in MLA format, superscript Arabic numbers are used. Any punctuation is placed before the superscript number with the exception of a long dash, which goes after the number. Never use an asterisk (*), brackets (< >) or any other type of symbol to note the use of footnotes or endnotes.
- When Siess was a teenager,2 her views were more in align with her parents, but as she grew older, her thoughts slowly changed into what she believes today.
- Many of these same researchers3—despite what their research revealed—still do not believe that it is the cause.
Formatting Footnotes and endnotes in MLA format
The numbers used as superscript references correspond to footnotes and endnotes in their respective location within your paper.
Footnotes—As of the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook, there are no specifications for setting up footnotes, which reiterates the MLA format’s preference for endnotes. However, the previous edition dictates the following formatting:
- Place four single space, blank lines between the text of your paper and the list of footnotes
- Use single spacing between each footnote
- Indent the first line of each footnote five spaces
- Keep subsequent lines in line with the left margin
- Use a period and a single space after the number for each footnote
- Follow with the footnote itself
Endnotes—Endnotes are placed on a separate page in MLA format. The setup requires that you follow a few guidelines:
- Keep the title (“Notes” is multiple endnotes are used, “Note” if only one is used) centered on the page
- Avoid extra formatting of the title
- Number the notes to match the corresponding notes in the body of your paper
- Double space each note
- Indent the first line of each endnote five spaces
- Keep subsequent lines in line with the left margin
- Use a period and space following each endnote number
- Follow with the endnote itself
- For further reading, see Miller, chapters 11, 12 and 14.
- To see how Siess felt during this time, her first book highlights her views and positions as they were formed during her teenage years. See Siess, chapters 20 and 21.
Whether you use footnotes and endnotes largely depends on each assignment and the preferences of your instructor. If you are unsure about using these types of notes, ask if they should be used in addition to the normal in-text citations used in MLA format.
There is a lot of terminology when it comes to citations and giving proper credit to sources. Three of the terms that sometimes get mixed up are footnotes, endnotes, and parenthetical citations. Each is different, as we will see below.
Footnotes vs. Endnotes
Both footnotes and endnotes are common writing tool features implemented when using various citation styles. They provide writers with a clear method in directing the reader to further information on the research topic and additional citations. Though the terms are sometimes used interchangeably, footnotes and endnotes have a few key differences.
The most obvious difference between footnotes and endnotes is the placement of each within a paper. Footnotes are found at the and endnotes are located at the or sometimes at the end of a chapter or section.
While the content in footnotes and endnotes can look the same, they serve different functions. Footnotes are used as a citation vehicle for a short citation, while endnotes can contain more text without compromising the format of the paper. They each also typically use a different numbering system, which allows the reader to determine where they should look for the additional information (either in the footer of the page, or at the end of the document).
APA format only uses parenthetical citations/reference list. MLA format can have footnotes and/or endnotes, but more commonly uses parenthetical citations and work cited. Chicago format almost always has footnotes or endnotes.
Both footnotes and endnotes tend to be supplemented by a bibliography or works cited page, which displays the complete citation of each source the writer cited in each footnote and endnote throughout their paper. Depending on the citation style, the footnote/endnote entry provides more specific location information than the entry in the bibliography. For instance, when citing a whole book in Chicago Manual of Style, the page number of the cited information is contained in the footnote, whereas this localized information is omitted from that source’s entry in the bibliography.
Footnote Entry Example:
F. Scott Fitzgerald, This Side of Paradise (New York: Scribner, 1920), 25.
Bibliography Entry Example:
Fitzgerald, F. Scott. This Side of Paradise. New York: Scribner, 1920.
Parenthetical Citations are citation tools commonly used inAPA and format MLA format. They usually contain the cited works author’s name, and an additional piece of information that further describes the source, usually the publication date of the source or the page number where the cited material can be located within the source.
Parenthetical Citations are used directly following the quote or cited material written in the document. Typically, they come at the end of the sentence that contains the cited material. They let the reader know when the author is using information or words that are not their own. While they demonstrate that a citation is being made, they should not be treated as a substitute for quotation marks when an author’s words are being presented exactly. They should also be included even when paraphrasing someone else’s work.
Each parenthetical citation made in a document should correspond to an entry in a works cited page or reference list at the end of the document. The entry in the works cited or reference list provides further detail about the source being cited.
Parenthetical Citation Example:
Reference List Entry Example:
James, Henry. (2009). The ambassadors. Rockville, MD: Serenity Publishers.
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