How To Use Footnotes

Any scholarly paper or informational text is not complete without footnotes. A footnote lets your reader know the source of any information you used or referred to in your writing. As tedious as the process may seem, it is absolutely necessary to use footnotes if you're not planning on referencing anywhere else in your text (such as endnotes or a words cited). It takes a bit of patience to get the formatting correct, but once you've done one footnote, they're all the same. Follow these easy steps on how to use footnotes.

Step 1

Get a good word processor. It's an exercise in futility to try to use footnotes without a good word processor. It's worth investing in one that has the footnote function. This will allow you to put a footnote at the bottom of the page that you used the information on. And the beauty of the program is if you add additional information to a page and the referenced info gets bumped to a new page, your footnote attached to that referenced info gets bumped to the next page too. You'll never have to worry about making sure that your footnotes are on the right page.  With a good word processor, they will be. Guaranteed.

Step 2

Put in a footnote number. In your word processor, usually under the ‘insert' or ‘edit' drop-down menu, you should be able to click on the footnote option. A menu will pop up that asks you a few questions about the formatting of your footnote. It is recommended that you use numbers, and that you start at 1. Each subsequent footnote will be the next number in line, and any footnotes that you insert between other footnotes will readjust all your numbers to match. Don't be concerned about numbering though - your word processor will make sure that the little number that is floating beside your referenced information matches the correct footnote source.

Step 3

Insert the source information. You're probably going to be using a words cited along with your footnotes, so the information you insert into a footnote can be brief. (Keep in mind though, that there is much more information required if you're not using a works cited along with your footnotes, and that is not described here). There is an order to the way that the information must appear when you are using a footnote. You will need to type things in this order: author's last name, source title, page number. Use the same punctuation as well. The source title will be the book title or article title, and it should match what you have written in the works cited.

And that's all there is to it. You've given credit where credit is due, you've sourced all of the information you used, and now you can submit your paper knowing that there was no plagiarism committed.


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