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Footnotes and Endnotes: Footnotes Vs Endnotes

The purpose of this guide is to highlight the difference between footnotes and endnotes, and explain best practices on how to use both when writing research papers.

What is the difference between Footnotes and Endnotes

Footnotes and Endnotes they are basically the same.

The one difference between footnotes and endnotes is that footnotes appear at the bottom of the same page, while endnotes appear at the end of the paper.

Footnotes more likely interrupt readers flow of reading, endnotes do not interrupt the flow of reading.

Footnotes and endnotes often appear in the same discussion.

Footnotes and endnotes are used in printed documents to explain, comment on, or provide references for text in a document.

Many people use footnotes for detailed comments and endnotes for citation of sources.

Things to keep in Mind

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.). The 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    In general, the use of footnotes in most academic writing is now considered a bit outdated and has been replaced by endnotes, which are much easier to place in your paper, even with the advent of word processing programs.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 imply a disorganized paper.


© University of Southern California

Advantages and Disadvantages Of Using Footnotes and Endnotes

Advantages of using footnotes:

Easy to locate. readers can find footnotes at the end of the page.

Guides readers directly and instantly to the citation or the idea related to the specific part of information.

Footnotes are included automatically when printing specific pages.

Does not take time to find the note at the back of the paper to link the footnote to the subject of the text.

Readers can quickly look down the end of the page to find the extra information or identify a source.

Disadvantages of using footnotes:

Using too many footnotes in one page may clutter the page and make it difficult to read.

Adding a lot of information in one footnote may dominate the page and distract readers from the main subject.

If there are multiple columns, charts, or tables, short footnotes will be lost and need to be moved to another place.

Advantages of using Endnotes:

Endnotes are not distracting as footnotes because endnotes are usually located in a separate part of the paper.

Readers can check all detailed and supplementary information in one located section of the paper.

Readers can read all the notes at once.

Endnotes do not clutter up the page.

Disadvantages of using Endnotes:

Readers must go to another part or section to get detailed information this could be distracting.

Using endnotes can be confusing sometimes if there are different chapters. readers might need to remember chapter numbers and the endnote number to be able to find the correct endnote.

Endnotes may carry a negative connotation much like the proverbial "fine print" or some hidden disclaimers in advertising.