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MLA Footnotes & Endnotes Guide

MLA Footnotes and Endnotes
If your instructor requests endnotes: Endnotes should be placed on a separate page, after the content of the paper but before the Works Cited page. The page should be titled “Notes,” centered on the page.

MLA Footnotes and Endnotes

The notes themselves should be listed by consecutive numbers that correspond to the notation in the text. [i.e., place a superscript numeral at the end of the sentence in the text for which you want to make a notation.]

Notes are double-spaced.

Each endnote is indented five spaces; subsequent lines are flush with the left margin.

Place a period and a space after each endnote number. Provide the appropriate note after the space.

If your instructor requests footnotes: The 7th edition of the MLA Handbook does not recommend a certain style or format when using footnotes, so it is best to ask your instructor what format he/she would like you to follow.

However, if your instructor has no preference, you may follow these guidelines from the 6th edition of the MLA Handbook:

Begin footnotes four lines (two double-spaced lines) below the main text.

Footnotes are single-space with a first-line indent.

Each footnote is indented five spaces; subsequent lines are flush with the left margin.

Place a period and a space after each footnote number. Provide the appropriate note after the space.

Your professor has asked for footnote citations and now you’re freaking out. Thankfully, MLA footnotes are simple. MLA footnotes serve two purposes.

Bibliographical citations replace or supplement parenthetical citations when they get too complicated. They’re also useful for a string of sources, as well as to flag translations or editions.

Content notes justify a study, explain word choices, or add further information that is related to a point.

Creating an MLA Footnote Example

When it comes to MLA footnotes, it is all about style. View these MLA footnote examples to create a bibliographic and parenthetical citation.

How to Create an MLA Parenthetical Footnote Citation

Denoting a footnote in MLA requires a number in superscript. Try to place this at the end of a sentence. It should come after punctuation or quotes. However, in some cases, it’ll make most sense to have the superscript number in the middle of a sentence.

MLA Footnote Example: In-Text

Alaskans must avoid their father during the time of puberty.In that area, obstacles come in to “keep the men and women separated.”The men and women in stories are kept separate,and this might be due to some financial obstacle.

How to Write a Footnote Citation in MLA

Place footnotes at the bottom of the page in their own special section. Follow the same numerical order on the page. Firstly, start each note with the superscript number that corresponds with the in-text citation. Then, remember that bibliographical notes provide citations similar to the works cited and vary based on the source. By contrast, content notes will point the reader to where more information can be found.

MLA Bibliographic Citation Footnote Example

1Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo (New York: Random, 1918) 26.

MLA Content Note Citation Footnote Example

Both footnotes and endnotes are indicated by superscript numbers. They usually appear at the end of a sentence after the period.

If you need to use a footnote in the middle of a sentence, place the number directly after a punctuation mark (with the exception of the dash, where the number comes before).


Four main factors have been determined possible characteristics of any successful fictional work:6 popularity, enduring fame, commercial success and scholarly appeal. Each of the case studies must possess at least one of these.7

The footnote or endnote itself begins with the corresponding number, followed by a period and a space. It should be the same font as the rest of your document, but a smaller font size.


Grabianowski and “100 Best Novels” support the selection of these four case studies, all of which are considered successful works by these sources.

Your word processing program should allow you to automatically insert footnotes.

Formatting the endnotes page

If you are using endnotes, list them on a separate page directly before the Works Cited list. The title, Notes, appears centred at the top of the page. Like the rest of an MLA format paper, the endnotes should be double-spaced.

Citing footnotes and endnotes in MLA

If you refer to a source in a footnote or endnote, you must include it in the Works Cited list. The note should mention the author’s last name, which begins the Works Cited entry. If there is no author you mention the title instead.


Grabianowski, Ed. “The 21 Best-Selling Books of All Time.” How Stuff Works. Discovery Communications, 2012.

“100 Best Novels.” Modern Library. Random House, 2012.

You can easily create your Works Cited list using our free MLA citation generator.

2See Green, especially 1-8, to show the different courtship principles

In MLA style, when you refer to a source, you use a parenthetical citation in the main text. Footnotes and endnotes can be used for two purposes:

Bibliographic notes: mentioning additional sources that are relevant to your point

Content notes: adding extra information or explanation that doesn’t fit into the main text

Footnotes appear at the bottom of the relevant page, while endnotes appear at the very end of the paper. MLA permits the use of either type.

Using MLA footnotes to reference sources

If you want to direct the reader to additional sources that add further support or context to your point, but are not directly discussed in the text, you can reference them in a footnote or endnote. This is called a bibliographic note.


For further discussion of Australia’s early publishing industry, see Crittenden 5–11 and Kent 17–34.

However, if you quote, paraphrase, or otherwise mention the source in the main text, you should use an in-text citation.

Using MLA footnotes to give extra information

If you want to add background information, elaborate on an explanation, or make additional comments that would interrupt the flow of your text, you can also use a footnote or endnote for this purpose. This is called a content note.

Content notes usually also refer to other sources, but they include more detail or evaluation than bibliographic notes.


For an insightful exploration of how “deep time” figured in 19th-century British science, see Sera-Shriar. The relation between geology and industrial modernity is also elaborated by Taylor, who traces the connections between James Watt’s steam engine and James Hutton’s geological discoveries (35–36).

However, long content notes can be distracting for readers, so use them sparingly, and keep them as brief as possible. If a piece of information is essential to your point, you should include it in the main text.

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Bella Phillips

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