How to Use Footnotes


Footnotes are an effective way to provide readers with additional information without disrupting your writing’s flow. Furthermore, they serve as a convenient way to cite sources that might be hard for readers to locate in your text.

Word automatically assigns a superscript number to the insertion point where you want to insert your note and then generates a list of messages at the bottom of your document that appears beneath a short horizontal line. You have complete control over where these appear in your paper and format them according to your preferred style guide.


Footnotes are a way to provide additional details about a topic or source that don’t fit within the body of a text. They’re often employed by professionals in meeting notes, informational documents or pamphlets, and written communications with employees or customers.

In-text citations are more prevalent than footnotes in most styles, particularly the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). However, you don’t have to use them if necessary.

Superscript numbers designating footnotes should appear at the end of a clause or sentence and after punctuation, such as commas, periods, and quotation marks. Furthermore, numbers denoting footnotes should appear before dashes.

Citations in footnotes should remain consistent throughout the paper, even if you cite a source multiple times. If a footnote needs to be repeated on one page, assign a new number under its corresponding footnote in the text of the paper.


Footnotes efficiently provide additional details on a topic without exceeding your word limit for an essay or paper. Furthermore, they allow you to reference your main text’s original idea or concept.

Footnotes typically appear at the bottom of a page containing the sentence they refer to, while endnotes are listed at the end of a document or section (you have control over where they appear).

Citations, footnotes, and endnotes all reference sources with a superscript number. However, there are several distinguishing characteristics; most notably that note numbers are inserted before punctuation marks.


Footnotes offer a convenient way to incorporate references and additional data within your paper. They are identified by either a numerical code or symbol corresponding to your document’s reference mark.

Footnotes are similar to endnotes in providing citations (unless you follow Chicago author-date formatting). But they can also be utilized for other purposes, such as adding commentary on sources you have cited or expanding on ideas briefly mentioned in your main text.

Chicago-style footnotes typically provide complete citation information the first time it is used and then condensed information for subsequent citations of the same source. This condensed citation usually includes the author’s name, work title in italics, city of publication, publisher/year, and page numbers.

Note that in many cases, it’s easiest to create footnotes using the built-in functionality of word processing software. Nonetheless, most style guidelines allow for manual entry as well.

Introductory paragraphs

Footnotes can be an effective tool for providing additional details about a topic. However, they should only be utilized when readers must be informed on a certain point.

One of the disadvantages of footnotes is that they often interrupt the flow of text and make it harder for readers to follow along with the argument. They can also be confusing and distracting when placed at the end of a paragraph or chapter.

Another downside of footnotes is they can create an unorganized citation list. Using them across multiple chapters in a document, such as a research thesis or book, makes it difficult to manage all the citations and cross-references among them.

To simplify your navigation of the footnote referencing system, incorporate introductory signals into your footnotes to show how citations are used. Generally, these should appear before any quotation marks or punctuation marks.


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