How to use footnotes and endnotes

Footnotes are superscript numbers (1) placed within the body of text. They can be used for two things:

  1. As a form of citation in certain citation styles
  2. As a provider of additional information.

Using footnotes has one big advantage; you can include additional information without distracting the reader from the main text.

Using footnotes for citations

Citation styles such as Chicago A, OSCOLA, Turabian and ACS require the use of footnote citations instead of author-date in-text citations.

This means that if you want to cite a source, you add a superscript number at the end of the sentence that includes the information from this source.

This number corresponds to a footnote or endnote citation, where you include information such as the author, title of work, date, etc. What you include depends on the citation style.

Example of a footnote/endnote citation:

Citation styles such as Chicago A, OSCOLA, Turabian and ACS require the use of footnote citations instead of author-date in-text citations.1

1Courtney Gahan, What are footnotes and endnotes? Amsterdam: Scribbr, 2018.

Citation styles using footnotes and endnotes

Citation styles using footnotes: Chicago A, OSCOLA, Turabian, ACS
Citation styles using endnotes: Vancouver, IEEE, AMA, NLM, AAA, ABNT

Your supervisor will be able to tell you which citation style you should be using. It is crucial to use your citation style correctly in order to avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism has serious consequences.

Using footnotes for additional information

Even if your citation style uses parenthetical citation instead of footnotes, you might choose to include footnotes to provide the reader with supplementary information..

For example, MLA footnotes can be used to direct the reader to further relevant sources or add information that could be useful but is not critical to your text.

If you wish to include footnotes or endnotes because you want to provide supplementary information, you should consider:

  • The number of notes. Too many footnotes can clutter the page.
  • The reader’s perspective. What is more convenient for them?

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How to insert footnotes

Microsoft Word makes it very easy to insert footnotes, following these simple steps:

1. Place the cursor where you would like the superscript number to appear.
2. Click on “Insert Footnote” in the “References” tab. The superscript number will appear in the text automatically.
3. The corresponding number will be automatically inserted in the footer ready for you to add the footnote citation.
4. Type in your footnote citation.

You can follow the same process for endnotes, simply by choosing “Insert Endnote” in the “References” tab.

Footnotes and endnotes

By default, footnotes will be numbered 1, 2, 3, etc, while endnotes will apply Roman numerals, e.g. i, ii, iii. If you would like to change this, simply click the small arrow in the footnotes/endnotes section under the “References” tab, and select the option you prefer from the dropdown menu.

insert footnotes in Word

How to format footnotes

  • Don’t use the same number twice, even if using the same source more than once. Each time you mention the source on a new page, it should be allocated the chronological number that fits with the other footnote citations on that page.
  • Footnote citations must be in a smaller font than the main text of your document. If you use a 12-point font for your main text, use a 10-point font for your footnotes.
  • The footnote number is placed immediately after the word to which the footnote citation refers. If the footnote citation refers to a paragraph, then place the footnote number immediately after the final punctuation mark.
  • Footnote numbering is usually reset with each new chapter, but you can also choose to number them continuously throughout your dissertation.
Is this article helpful?
Courtney Gahan

Courtney has a Bachelor in Communication and a Master in Editing and Publishing. She has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2013, and joined the Scribbr team as an editor in June 2017. She loves helping students and academics all over the world improve their writing (and learning about their research while doing so!).


February 10, 2021 at 8:41 PM

Hi, if I put the exact same sentence in the footnote (for additional explanation) should I write the name of the author and year in the footnote as well?


Jack Caulfield
Jack Caulfield (Scribbr Team)
February 17, 2021 at 5:07 PM

Hi Tea,

If you include the same quote again in a footnote, you should indeed add the citation for it there as well. I would advise considering whether you actually need to include the same quote twice though; it's generally best to avoid redundancy in academic writing, so make sure you have a good reason to repeat the quote like this.


John Doe
January 12, 2021 at 2:58 AM

I was wondering how we should differentiate between endnotes and footnotes in the "number part". Is it [1] for endnotes and 1 for footnotes? Or should I just use the same number regardless and move on, ignoring a 1 endnote, and continuing with the next number for footnotes?


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
January 19, 2021 at 4:02 PM

Hi John,

In academic writing, it's unusual to include both footnotes and endnotes in the same document. Style guides generally either specify one or the other; some styles (such as Chicago) permit the use of either footnotes or endnotes, but you should choose one and use it consistently.

If in doubt, I'd suggest looking at similar texts in your field or consulting your style guide to find out how best to approach this.


February 29, 2020 at 11:20 AM

do i use footnote whe i've qouted


Shona McCombes
Shona McCombes (Scribbr Team)
March 2, 2020 at 11:24 AM


If the citation style that you're following uses footnotes to cite sources in the text, then yes, you should include a footnote each time you quote a source. Some styles (such as APA and MLA) use parenthetical citations in the text instead of footnotes, so check the rules of the style and follow them consistently.


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