Footnote Essay

Footnotes are notes placed at the bottom of a page. They cite references or comment on a designated part of the text above it. For example, say you want to add an interesting comment to a sentence you have written, but the comment is not directly related to the argument of your paragraph. In this case, you could add the symbol for a footnote. Then, at the bottom of the page you could reprint the symbol and insert your comment. Here is an example:

This is an illustration of a footnote.1 The number “1” at the end of the previous sentence corresponds with the note below. See how it fits in the body of the text?

1 At the bottom of the page you can insert your comments about the sentence preceding the footnote.

When your reader comes across the footnote in the main text of your paper, he or she could look down at your comments right away, or else continue reading the paragraph and read your comments at the end. Because this makes it convenient for your reader, most citation styles require that you use either footnotes or endnotes in your paper. Some, however, allow you to make parenthetical references (author, date) in the body of your work. See our section on citation styles for more information.

Footnotes are not just for interesting comments, however. Sometimes they simply refer to relevant sources -- they let your reader know where certain material came from, or where they can look for other sources on the subject. To decide whether you should cite your sources in footnotes or in the body of your paper, you should ask your instructor or see our section on citation styles.

Where Does the Little Footnote Mark Go?

Whenever possible, put the footnote at the end of a sentence, immediately following the period or whatever punctuation mark completes that sentence. Skip two spaces after the footnote before you begin the next sentence. If you must include the footnote in the middle of a sentence for the sake of clarity, or because the sentence has more than one footnote (try to avoid this!), try to put it at the end of the most relevant phrase, after a comma or other punctuation mark. Otherwise, put it right at the end of the most relevant word. If the footnote is not at the end of a sentence, skip only one space after it.

What's the Difference between Footnotes and Endnotes?

The only real difference is placement -- footnotes appear at the bottom of the relevant page, while endnotes all appear at the end of your document. If you want your reader to read your notes right away, footnotes are more likely to get your reader's attention. Endnotes, on the other hand, are less intrusive and will not interrupt the flow of your paper.

If I Cite Sources in the Footnotes (or Endnotes), How's that Different from a Bibliography?

Sometimes you may be asked to include these -- especially if you have used a parenthetical style of citation. A "works cited" page is a list of all the works from which you have borrowed material. Your reader may find this more convenient than footnotes or endnotes because he or she will not have to wade through all of the comments and other information in order to see the sources from which you drew your material. A "works consulted" page is a complement to a "works cited" page, listing all of the works you used, whether they were useful or not.

Isn't a "Works Consulted" Page the Same as a "Bibliography," Then?

Well, yes. The title is different because "works consulted" pages are meant to complement "works cited" pages, and bibliographies may list other relevant sources in addition to those mentioned in footnotes or endnotes. Choosing to title your bibliography "Works Consulted" or "Selected Bibliography" may help specify the relevance of the sources listed.

 

Chicago/Turabian Basics: Footnotes

 

Why We Use Footnotes

The style of Chicago/Turabian we use requires footnotes rather than in-text or parenthetical citations. Footnotes or endnotes acknowledge which parts of their paper reference particular sources. Generally, you want to provide the author’s name, publication title, publication information, date of publication, and page number(s) if it is the first time the source is being used. Any additional usage, simply use the author’s last name, publication title, and date of publication.

Footnotes should match with a superscript number at the end of the sentence referencing the source. You should begin with 1 and continue numerically throughout the paper. Do not start the order over on each page.

In the text:

Throughout the first half of the novel, Strether has grown increasingly open and at ease in Europe; this quotation demonstrates openness and ease.1

In the footnote:

1. Henry James, The Ambassadors (Rockville: Serenity, 2009), 34-40.

When citing a source more than once, use a shortened version of the footnote.

2. James, The Ambassadors, 14.


Citing sources with more than one author

If there are two or three authors of the source, include their full names in the order they appear on the source. If there are more than three authors, list only the first author followed by “et al.” You should list all the authors in the bibliography.

John K. Smith, Tim Sampson, and Alex J. Hubbard, Example Book (New York: Scholastic, 2010), 65.

John K. Smith, Example Book (New York: Scholastic, 2010), 65.


Citing sources with other contributor information

You may want to include other contributor information in your footnotes such as editor, translator, or compiler. If there is more than one of any given contributor, include their full names in the order they appear on the source.

John Smith, Example Book, trans. Bill McCoy and Tim Thomas (New York: Random House, 2000), 15.

John Smith, Example Book, ed. Tim Thomas (New York: Random House, 1995), 19.

If the contributor is taking place of the author, use their full name instead of the author’s and provide their contribution.

John Smith, trans., Example Book (New York: Random House, 1992), 25.


Citing sources with no author

It may not be possible to find the author/contributor information; some sources may not even have an author or contributor- for instance, when you cite some websites. Simply omit the unknown information and continue with the footnote as usual.

Example Book (New York: Scholastic, 2010), 65.


Citing a part of a work

When citing a specific part of a work, provide the relevant page or section identifier. This can include specific pages, sections, or volumes. If page numbers cannot be referenced, simply exclude them. Below are different templates:

Multivolume work:

Webster’s Dictionary, vol. 4 (Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1995).

Part of a multivolume work:

John Smith, ed., “Anthology,” in Webster’s Dictionary, ed. John Smith, vol 2. of Webster’s Dictionaries (Springfield: Merriam-Webster, 1995).

Chapter in a book:

Garrett P. Serviss, “A Trip of Terror,” in A Columbus of Space (New York: Appleton, 1911), 17-32.

Introduction, afterword, foreword, or preface:

Scott R Sanders, introduction to Tounchstone Anthology of Contemporary Creative Nonfiction: Work from 1970 to Present, ed. Lex Williford and Michael Martone (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2007), x-xii.

Article in a periodical:

William G. Jacoby, “Public Attitudes Toward Public Spending,” American Journal of Political Science 38, no. 2 (May 1994): 336-61.


Citing group or corporate authors

In your footnotes, cite a corporate author like you would a normal author.

American Medical Association, Journal of the American Medical Association: 12-43.


Citing an entire source

When citing an entire work, there are no specific page numbers to refer to. Therefore, simply exclude the page numbers from the footnote.

John K. Smith, Example Book (New York: Scholastic, 2010).


Citing indirect sources

When an original source is unavailable, then cite the secondhand source – for instance, a lecture in a conference proceedings. If using an unpublished address, cite only in the paper/writing. If using a published address, use a footnote with the following format.

Paula Abdul mentioned in her interview on Nightline…
Zouk Mosbeh, “Localization and the Training of Linguistic Mediators for the Third Millennium,” Paper presented at The Challenges of Translation & Interpretation in the Third Millennium, Lebanon, May 17, 2002.


Citing the Bible

The title of books in the Bible should be abbreviated. Chapter and verses should be separated by a colon. You should include the version you are referencing.

Prov. 3:5-10 AV.


Citing online sources

Generally, follow the same principals of footnotes to cite online sources. Refer to the author if possible and include the URL.

Henry James, The Ambassadors (Rockville: Serenity: 2009), http://books.google.com.

Bhakti Satalkar, “Water Aerobics,” http://www.buzzle.com, (July 15, 2010).


Citing online sources with no author

If there is no author, use either the article or website title to begin the citation. Be sure to use quotes for article titles and include the URL.

“Bad Strategy: At E3, Microsoft and Sony Put Nintendo on the Defense,” BNET, www.cbsnews.com/moneywatch, (June 14, 2010)

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