Footnote | What you need to know about it

Time to read: 11 Minutes

Definition: Footnote

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, this refers to a note published at the footer section of a page, and which is intended to provide additional information pertaining to something of significance in the page in question. Footnotes figure the papers, books, and websites you used for your research. They are identified in the text by a numeral or a symbol.

The following article is a look at what is a footnote, including its various uses. This article will also look at how to insert and format footnotes in a Word document.


You need to provide full bibliographic information in the footnote of your academic writing project. This includes the author’s name and initials, editor’s name (where applicable), title of the journal, book, or article, name of the publisher (including location, and the year it was published) and the reference number.

A footnote is normally used to state clarifying information about the written document in question. It helps to provide essential details that the reader may not be familiar with pertaining to the research paper. Footnotes are used in a few referencing styles, but are commonly seen in the Chicago referencing method. When properly used, footnotes save the reader so much time when looking up unfamiliar sources, words, places, or people. The reader can find any sources they may need at the bottom of each page.

One difference that is quite obvious between these two is where they are placed in a research paper or dissertation. Footnotes appear in the footer/bottom section of a page in the document while endnotes are placed at the end of a section or chapter of the document. However, their purpose still remains the same.

In a general sense, the two serve similar functions and can be interchangeable in some cases. However, footnotes are deemed the better option when a writer only seeks to supply the reader with a small amount of supplemental data. This ensures the data is seen immediately at the end of each page of the research paper. However, if you have lots of details that you would like to supply at once, then it’s recommended that you use an endnote.

In Chicago style citation, both types of notes are used to reference various pieces in the document or paper. When citing directly from a source, the author is required to place a superscript after a paraphrase or a quote. It’s necessary to ensure that all the citation numbers appear in sequential order. Each number in the document will need to correspond to a citation which can either be a foot- or endnote.

Footnote Citation

Where in academic writing do you need it?

When using the notation system to reference, the author has to place a number (in superscript) within the confines of their text. A complete reference (inclusive of all bibliographical data) is then published in the footer section of the text. In some cases, this also appears at the end of the journal/document/article as an endnote.

Authors are also required to supply a complete reference list at the very end of their assignments. Considering that this is repetitive, not all style guides advocate for this; but it does make it easier for interested readers to check up alphabetical reference lists as opposed to having to scroll through many pages of the assignment in search of the information they need.
The first footer ought to reference all the information that is needed by the reader to recognize it. This information should then be followed by a page number of the specific reference or quotation.
Subsequent references can then be abbreviated in either one of two ways: through the use of Latin abbreviations or by using details of the first citation.

How do you use footnotes?

When dealing with academic writing, this type of note is meant to provide additional details on a given topic. Authors place these notes in an article or document as a way of supplementing the main text. You have the option of placing the notes at the bottom of a page or at the end of a section.
Any note included in a document needs to be as brief as possible. The objective here is to provide a reader with additional data without getting to distract them. This type of note is referenced in the document in the same way that you would reference any citation.

They come in two main types:

I. Content: Simplifies or supplements substantive details, i.e., it is not detailed in any way.
II. Copyright Permission: Its purpose is to quote any reprinted materials or quoted text that has been used in compiling that document.

Footnotes in Microsoft Word

As mentioned elsewhere in this document, this note makes it possible for you to explain a concept or cite sources without sidetracking your primary text. Word has made it easy for authors to manage this type of notes. It automatically numbers all the new notes, with the footer section expanding and shrinking dynamically depending on the amount of text that is available.
Using the notes assist in giving the document a more professional feel as they assist in crediting the sources used and in clarifying information. It’s quite easy to use them in Word.

All you need to do is:

I. Click the section you would like to reference.
II. Head over to the References tab, click on Insert and choose the kind of note you would like to insert.
III. Input what you would like captured in the footer.
IV. Go back to your place in the text by double-clicking the symbol or number placed at the beginning of your document.

Footnote Generator

A generator is meant to educate learners on the importance of using more than one source in all their written work. It also helps them to accurately cite all the materials that they have used in the course of crafting their papers.
A generator also helps ensure that the student doesn’t inadvertently plagiarize the work that they have written due to deadlines and mounting pressure to deliver quality work. Generators are easy to use as all you need to do is follow the prompts. Make sure to provide all the required information in the available fields, and the rest should proceed smoothly.

GOOD TO KNOW: Read our article about Works Cited!

Types of Footnotes

Common citation styles include:

I. Modern Language Association (MLA)—Best when used with Humanities, e.g., Linguistics, English, Art, and Language.
II. American Psychological Association (APA)—Recommended for use with Social Sciences, Engineering, and Education disciplines.
III. Chicago: It supports two main styles:

a. Author-Date—Best for use with Social, Natural or Physical Sciences.
b. Bibliography and Notes—Best for use with Humanities or History
Other known citation styles are:


  • null

    James Smith, The first and last war, (New York, Hamilton, 2003)

  • null

    Caxton’s printing of the Morte Darthur—dated 14851—changes several aspects of the Pentecostal Oath.2 (The Winchester Manuscript’s version of the Oath will be discussed later in this chapter.3)

  • null

    See Blackmur, especially chapters 3 and 4, for an insightful analysis of this trend.

thesis defense thesis printing & binding

Thesis Printing & Binding

You are already done writing your thesis and need a high quality printing & binding service? Then you are right to choose BachelorPrint! Check out our 24-hour online printing service. For more information click the button below:

Thesis Printing & Binding

In a Nutshell

  • A footnote appears at the footer section of a page.
  • It’s used to comment on a given part of the main text or to cite a reference.
  • A reader should proceed to check the comments included at the bottom of the page whenever they come across a footnote.
  • Some footnotes are designed to enable an author to make parenthetical references, e.g., date and name of the author.
  • Footnotes are at times used to refer to relevant sources and not just as mere comments.
  • You can either cite the sources in the body of the paper or in the footer section depending on the citation style you are using.