While reading a book or an academic journal or an essay, all of us have come across little numbers that appear at the end of some sentences? These numbers normally feature as small symbols and are associated with the numbers written at the end of the pages, along with which further information is presented – both mandatory and additional. Often such details are produced in the form of references, but it can also be presented as added details about the topic you are dealing with.
These citations and additional information are known as footnotes (since they feature at the end of the page).
What are footnotes?
Excessively detailed data can become too overwhelming for the readers when they are presented in the middle of the paper. Providing such elaborate information in the main body of your academic paper can affect the flow of the write-up. Imagine if every time a writer wanted to include a reference, the book would become excruciatingly detailed and reading them would have been even more tedious. This is the reason footnotes are so effective; they let the writers impart adequate information without causing any interruption in the logical flow of ideas.
How to apply footnotes by following specific formatting styles?
Footnotes can encompass anything from a particular reference to further information, permissions for copyright, outside source materials, background details and anything in between, although several formatting styles have different and specific guidelines regarding the application of footnotes. Now let’s discuss how footnotes are included in some of the most popular formatting styles.
Out of all the prominent styles that encourage the utilization of footnotes, the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is the most recognized one. However, footnotes are sometimes adopted in other major formatting styles as well. The fundamental difference in the application of the footnotes is that, while CMS utilizes footnotes for referencing purposes, American Psychological Association (APA) and Modern Language Association (MLA) usually adopt the footnotes with the objective of offering further details.
American Psychological Association (APA)
American Psychological Association ideally prohibits the adoption of footnotes unless it’s essential. Even while adding the footnotes, the guide suggests that it can only be utilized to present content notes (like offering brief details about the source from which the information is added or simply guiding the readers to the additional information) and to define copyright permissions. The regulations for the appropriate placement of the superscript numbers are quite similar for both, APA and MLA formatting styles.
Modern Language Association (MLA)
While MLA style doesn’t encourage the utilization of elaborated endnotes or footnotes, the guidelines do allow the students to use them for pointing the readers in the direction of other significant information on the subject that is elaborated in the paper.
The guide elucidates that the numbers mentioned within the text are presented outside any punctuation marks that is, after a full stop if the information is at the end of a sentence and following a comma if the detail is at the end of a specific clause. The exception to this technique is that the in-text numbers should be included before dashes. Keep the following rules in mind while presenting your essay in this particular format.
- When a footnote must be added at the end of a particular sentence, include the superscript number after the full stop.
- When a footnote should be included at the end of a clause, apply the number after placing the comma.
- Numbers corresponding with footnotes should invariably feature after punctuation, with the only exception of one type of punctuation mark, i.e. the dash.
Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)
Out of all the formatting styles described here, CMS encourages the usage of footnotes the most. While CMS does enable the writers to adopt the author-date system of in-text citations (which is basically providing the writer’s name and the date of publication in brief at the end of the clause, phrase or sentence that refers to the specific source), it also provides a citation style in which footnotes or endnotes are adopted. In both the instances, bibliographies are also essential to include. If a writer should apply the author-date system or footnotes is often determined by the writer’s professor in the university or college.
How to apply footnotes to your essay assignment?
To apply relevant footnotes in your own academic papers, be it an essay or a dissertation, the first thing you must do is to determine the most pertinent and rational placement of your footnotes in the main body. Include the numbers as per the formatting style recognized by your university, and make sure to fill in the numbers right after the sentence, phrase or clause to which the specific footnote is related.
With a little help of the technology, you can easily use footnotes in your documents. The following is a step-by-step process to apply footnotes in your document through your computer.
- Click on the exact area within the text where you want to insert the superscript number.
- In the References tab, you’d find a Footnotes group. Under that group, click on the Insert Footnote button.
- After you press the button, you’ll notice two numbers within the document, one number will show up in the main body, and the related number should feature at the footer section of that specific page.
- Mention your references or additional details besides the number that is added to the footer. Place the information as per the rules of your formatting guidelines.
To avoid unnecessary clutter, make sure that you apply the footnotes sparingly and only when you need to offer useful additions or references. As mentioned earlier, the details in the footnotes may be taken supplementary; this is why the different formatting guidelines emphasize on placing it away from the main section of your essay. When using footnotes, always think about the convenience of the readers and remember that the footnotes are there to impart useful details. If your footnotes are forced or irrelevant, that won’t go down well with the readers and they may get annoyed and may even deviate from the primary aspects of your essay.
Now that you have gathered a fair bit of idea about what footnotes are, and you know how to apply them following various formatting styles, it can turn out to be a great skill to possess as a writer. Always remember to follow the suggestions above, and also refer to the guidelines followed by your educational institution to make sure that you’re applying the footnotes as per its requirements in the text of your essay.
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