Advantages of Using Endnotes
- Endnotes are less distracting to the reader and allows the narrative to flow better.
- Endnotes don't clutter up the page.
- As a separate section of a research paper, endnotes allow the reader to read and contemplate all the notes at once.
Disadvantages of Using Endnotes
- If you want to look at the text of a particular endnote, you have to flip to the end of the research paper to find the information.
- Depending on how they are created [i.e., continuous numbering or numbers that start over for each chapter], you may have to remember the chapter number as well as the endnote number in order to find the correct one.
- Endnotes may carry a negative connotation much like the proverbial "fine print" or hidden disclaimers in advertising. A reader may believe you are trying to hide something by burying it in a hard-to-find endnote.
Advantages of Using Footnotes
- Readers interested in identifying the source or note can quickly glance down the page to find what they are looking for.
- It allows the reader to immediately link the footnote to the subject of the text without having to take the time to find the note at the back of the paper.
- Footnotes are automatically included when printing off specific pages.
Disadvantages of Using Footnotes
- Footnotes can clutter up the page and, thus, negatively impact the overall look of the page.
- If there are multiple columns, charts, or tables below only a small segment of text that includes a footnote, then you must decide where the footnotes should appear.
- If the footnotes are lengthy, there's a risk they could dominate the page, although this issue is considered acceptable in legal scholarship.
Things to keep in mind when considering using either endnotes or footnotes in your research paper:
1. Footnotes are numbered consecutively throughout a research paper, except for those notes accompanying special material (e.g., figures, tables, charts, etc.). Numbering of footnotes are "superscript"--Arabic numbers typed slightly above the line of text. Do not include periods, parentheses, or slashes. They can follow all punctuation marks except dashes. In general, to avoid interrupting the continuity of the text, footnote numbers are placed at the end of the sentence, clause, or phrase containing the quoted or paraphrased material.
2. Depending on the writing style used in your class, endnotes may take the place of a list of resources cited in your paper or they may represent non-bibliographic items, such as comments or observations, followed by a separate list of references to the sources you cited and arranged alphabetically by the author's last name. If you are unsure about how to use endnotes, consult with your professor.
3. In general, the use of footnotes in most academic writing is now considered a bit outdated and has been replaced by endnotes, which are much easier to place in your paper, even with the advent of word processing programs. However, some disciplines, such as law and history, still predominantly utilize footnotes. Consult with your professor about which form to use and always remember that, whichever style of citation you choose, apply it consistently throughout your paper.
NOTE: Always think critically about the information you place in a footnote or endnote. Ask yourself, is this supplementary or tangential information that would otherwise disrupt the narrative flow of the text or is this essential information that I should integrate into the main text? If you are not sure, it's better to work it into the text. Too many notes implies a disorganized paper.
Cermak, Bonni and Jennifer Troxell. A Guide to Footnotes and Endnotes for NASA History Authors. NASA History Program. History Division; Hale, Ali. Should You Use Footnotes or Endnotes? DailyWritingTips.com; Tables, Appendices, Footnotes and Endnotes. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Lunsford, Andrea A. and Robert Connors. The St. Martin's Handbook. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989; Saller, Carol. “Endnotes or Footnotes? Some Considerations.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 58 (January 6, 2012): http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2012/01/06/endnotes-or-footnotes-some-considerations/.
MLA Endnotes and Footnotes
MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.
Contributors: Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Michelle Campbell, Rodrigo Rodríguez-Fuentes, Daniel P. Kenzie, Susan Wegener, Maryam Ghafoor, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2018-01-16 01:42:04
Because long explanatory notes can be distracting to readers, most academic style guidelines (including MLA and APA, the American Psychological Association) recommend limited use of endnotes/footnotes; however, certain publishers encourage or require note references in lieu of parenthetical references.
MLA discourages extensive use of explanatory or digressive notes. MLA style does, however, allow you to use endnotes or footnotes for bibliographic notes, which refer to other publications your readers may consult. The following are some examples:
1. See Blackmur, especially chapters 3 and 4, for an insightful analysis of this trend.
2. On the problems related to repressed memory recovery, see Wollens 120-35; for a contrasting view, see Pyle 43; Johnson, Hull, Snyder 21-35; Krieg 78-91.
3. Several other studies point to this same conclusion. See Johnson and Hull 45-79, Kather 23-31, Krieg 50-57.
Or, you can also use endnotes/footnotes for occasional explanatory notes (also known as content notes), which refers to brief additional information that might be too digressive for the main text:
4. In a 1998 interview, she reiterated this point even more strongly: "I am an artist, not a politician!" (Weller 124).
Numbering endnotes and footnotes in the document body
Endnotes and footnotes in MLA format are indicated in-text by superscript arabic numbers after the punctuation of the phrase or clause to which the note refers:
Some have argued that such an investigation would be fruitless.6
Scholars have argued for years that this claim has no basis,7 so we would do well to ignore it.
Note that when a long dash appears in the text, the footnote/endnote number appears before the dash:
For years, scholars have failed to address this point8—a fact that suggests their cowardice more than their carelessness.
Do not use asterisks (*), angle brackets (>), or other symbols for note references. The list of endnotes and footnotes (either of which, for papers submitted for publication, should be listed on a separate page, as indicated below) should correspond to the note references in the text.
Formatting endnotes and footnotes
MLA recommends that all notes be listed on a separate page entitled Notes (centered, no formatting). Use Note if there is only one note. The Notes page should appear before the Works Cited page. This is especially important for papers being submitted for publication.
The notes themselves should be listed by consecutive arabic numbers that correspond to the notation in the text. Notes are double-spaced. The first line of each endnote is indented five spaces; subsequent lines are flush with the left margin. Place a period and a space after each endnote number. Provide the appropriate note after the space.
Footnotes (below the text body)
The 8th edition of the MLA Handbook does not specify how to format footnotes. See the MLA Style Center for additional guidance on this topic and follow your instructor's or editor's preferences.