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Our Video Guide will help you to format your Footnotes properly

Why You Need Footnotes in Your Research Paper

Research papers require you to properly reference any source of information that you used to support arguments, explain a phenomena, or to illustrate examples, be properly cited so as to give credit to the individual(s) who originated the idea upon which your work was based. Depending on the class you are in there are a number of different research paper formats, and each require a different citation style, oftentimes in the form of a footnote citation.

Plagiarism is a very real concern in the world of academia, and this is part of why knowing how to use footnotes properly is vital to creating a good research paper – and will keep you out of any proverbial hot water when it comes to the use of others’ ideas and research. During your education, you will be required to write a number of different types of college research papers – from a MLA style research paper, APA format research paper, Chicago style, and more – and they all have different citation requirements. MLA, Chicago style, and Turbanian are the styles that most often use footnotes. Here at, we aim to provide you a comprehensive guide to footnotes, as well as access to any additional assistance you might need in getting your research paper format just right.

Chicago/Turbanian Style Footnotes

When tasked with writing a college research paper in either of these formats, you will be expected to provide citation footnotes wherever more information, or explanations of your thoughts and use of said source, are necessary. These are very important as in the field of academia, integrity, and the referencing of all ideas that you used to come up with yours, is vital. Footnotes are fairly simple to create, and both Chicago and Turbanian style have similar methods for footnote creation.

Chicago Style Footnotes

Footnotes are a function that is built in to most word processing systems. In Chicago style, a footnote is to be placed at the end of the sentence or idea, after any necessary punctuation. Footnotes can usually be found under the “Insert” pull-down menu on the top of the word processing window. In Chicago style. footnotes are denoted in “superscript” Arabic numerals (1,2,3…). Superscript simply means that the number is slightly above the rest of the text.

A text box will appear at the bottom of the page, and this is where you provide your additional referencing information.

Turbanian Style Footnotes

In Turbanian style, you go about creating the footnote in the same manner as you create on in Chicago style, it is merely the citation format that is different in a Turbanian footnote. In a Turbanian footnote, you must indent before you begin with the reference information, but only on the first line.

Footnotes for MLA Research Papers

When writing a MLA style research paper footnotes are not required, but can be used in certain incidences. If, for example, you would like to make an extensive or detailed comment on the source of the research, of the citation is particularly long, a footnote can be used to make the overall paper more readable. As when creating Chicago footnotes and Turbanian footnotes, you use the footnote function under the “Insert” pull-down menu. You want the same superscript, Arabic numeration system. Footnotes in a MLA style research paper should be single spaced throughout the citation. However, if there are multiple footnotes at the bottom of a page, there must be double spaces between each footnote.

If your footnote is so long as to necessitate extension to the next page, you must create a solid line that is placed two spaces below the last sentence that will fit on that page. In the footnote area of the next page, create a solid line and hit “ENTER” two spaces. Then you can continue with your citation.

When Are Footnotes Used in Harvard and APA Style?

As with the MLA style research paper, APA format research papers, and those written in Harvard style, do not require footnotes. As with MLA though, there are certain times when a footnote can be a beneficial addition to your research paper. For example, if  you have an “aside”, that someone who might want to pursue research on your topic further might be interested in, this would be a case where a citation footnote would be well placed. If the reference source is particularly long, or you have an extensive comment you would like to make about said source, this is another area in which the use of a footnote can be beneficial.

The creation of a footnote in these styles is done by the same process as all other formats. Superscript, Arabic numerals are used to denote that there is further information about this thought, idea, or source, that can be accessed at the bottom of the page.

What is the Difference Between Footnotes and Endnotes?

In the many different types of research paper formats, there are a number of different ways in which to reference material that is used to support that arguments or postulations laid forth in your college research paper. Both footnotes and endnotes are used for the same purpose – to allow you to further expound upon an idea sparked by the particular source in question, or in the event of a particularly lengthy citation. Depending on the assigned format you are using, footnotes or endnotes may be the preferred way to denote extensive comments or references.

Both footnotes and endnotes appear the same within the text as they are both denoted by superscript, Arabic numerals. However, where the actual note is placed is different. There are usually two different functions in the pull-down “Insert” menu, one for footnotes, one for endnotes. When you create a footnote, the reference or comment will appear at the bottom of the page. When you use endnotes, however, all notes appear at the end of the research paper.

How to Make a Footnote

Depending on the source of the information that requires you to create a citation footnote, you will be required to format each media in a slightly different way. Since the way footnotes are created and formatted are, for the most part, in following with the Chicago style, this is what we will use as our example for showing how different reference material is cited using a footnote. Below are examples of how different media are cited using a footnote in Chicago style, aside from small formatting differences, such as spaces or indentations, this manner is fairly standard amongst other format styles.

To create a footnote citing a book:

1 Author, Title (Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication), Page Number Referenced.

To create a footnote citing a newspaper piece:

1 Author, Title (Place of Publication: Publisher, Year of Publication), Page Number Referenced.

To create a footnote citing a scholarly journal:

1 Author, “Title of Piece,” Journal and Edition Number (Month and Year of Publication): Pages Referenced.

To create a footnote citing a televised or radio source:

1 Station Identification Number, “Name of Program,” Air Date.

Commentary-related Footnotes

Footnotes, as noted above, are not just used for citation purposes, they can also be used for commentary related to a particular source. The main thing you need to keep in mind when using a footnote for this purpose is to keep the formatting for each type of media used and provide all the required information.

Your Research Paper Bibliography

Your bibliography is where all the sources you used to create your college research paper are compiled. Depending on the research paper format you are using, the way you compile your sources, as well as cite them throughout your paper, are a little different.

APA In-Text Citations and References Page

When writing in APA format, you are required to use what are called in-text citations. These are brief citations, within the text of your paper itself, that quickly identify where idea came from. It cannot be stated how important academic integrity is in obtaining a college degree, citing your sources thoroughly and properly, helps to ensure that all who have contributed to your ideas are given their due credit and there will be no concerns of plagiarism.

These are not to be used for direct quotes, but rather, where an idea from another was vital in your reaching said conclusion. Generally, you need to provide, in parenthesis, the source author’s last name and year of publication.

For example:

The work is considered to be a seminal text in the field (Smith, 2011), sparking many people’s interest in pursuing this career track.

If you are using a short quotation, a verbatim snippet of another’s work, you need to provide the page number as well, and the way you cite it, due to how the information is put forth, is just a bit different. An couple of examples to illustrate this are as follows:

Smith (2011) describes this statement as “important, as it illustrates a fundamental point” (p. 21).

However, why, as Smith (2011) purports “it illustrates a fundamental point” (p. 21), is not as clearly stated.

The bibliography page in APA format is called References. All sources used in the college research paper must be included, in alphabetical order, in this section.

MLA In-Text Citations and Work’s Cited Page

As with APA format, in-text citations are used in MLA format as well. The basic rule of thumb for an MLA in-text citation is the “author-page” rule. This is the information that needs to be provided, parenthetically, when citing a source in MLA format. Whether you are paraphrasing the work of another or using a direct quote, this is the information that will need to be provided.

For example:

Smith claims that this work is a vital part of the history of the field (p. 21).

The bibliography for an MLA paper is called a Work’s Cited page. Here, alphabetically, all sources used for your essay need to be included.

Chicago Style Bibliography

When using Chicago style, the bibliography page is called, well, the Bibliography. As with the other formats discussed, this is where all sources used in creating your college research paper need to be included, in alphabetical order. Surnames are used first, followed by first names. Between each bit of information there is a period, as opposed to a comma. Brackets and parenthesis are not used to demarcate the publishing information required. What follows is an example of a book with a single author, cited correctly, Chicago style.

Last name, First name. Title of the Book. Location of Publication: Publisher, Year.

Harvard References Page

When using Harvard style formatting, the bibliography is referred to as References, as with APA style formatting. When using Harvard style there are not as many periods or commas to demarcate the information. However, most bibliography pages require much of the same information, there is a difference in how it is presented. The authors first name is not spelled out, only the first letter of the name is used. An example of a book, written by a single author, in Harvard format, is as follows:

Last name, First letter of first name Date, Name of work, Edition (if applicable), Publishing Company, Publication City, Publication Date.

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