Anyone who has ever read a scholarly article or book has encountered small raised numbers that follow certain words or appear at the end of a sentence. These correspond to the same numbers found either at the bottom of the page or at the end of the chapter or document. The first option involves footnotes, while the second is related to endnotes. Authors use such notes to complement the reading by providing certain clarifications in terms of historical events, biographical facts, non-general information, bibliographic citations, and additional details on the topic.
- Located at the bottom of the page to complement a text with essential details or facts. Depending on the citation style, footnotes may provide relevant references and sources related to the information mentioned in the body of the text.
- Correspond to the superscripted number after a word or a sentence in the text.
- Consecutively numbered throughout the entire document.
- Usually used in research articles, books, and scientific documents.
- Convenient for readers, providing an immediate link to additional information.
- In some cases, extended footnotes might be lengthy and occupy the major part of the page.
Text: Tony told me about a special drink that French people call eau-de-vie1.
Footnote: 1 Water of life (Fr.)
- Located at the end of a document, chapter, or book; provide information about sources from which the information was extracted. Endnotes may also offer more insight into the historical facts mentioned in the primary sources, the meaning of a certain word, cultural events, and other relevant information.
- Marked by consecutive numbers that match the order of supplemental information listed at the end of the document or section.
- Similar to footnotes, found mainly in research articles and books.
- Do not occupy extra space on the page and do not distract readers, although some readers might find it annoying to have to page back and forth between the main text and the endnotes.
- Potentially confusing, especially when each chapter has its own numbering system instead of continuous numbering from the beginning to the end of the body of the book.
Text: They were also “denied yearly payments and agricultural aid that they were promised by the federal government through a treaty.” 2
Endnote: 2 Page, Jake. In the Hands of the Great Spirit: The 20,000-Year History of American Indians. New York: Free Press, 2010.
Difference between Footnotes and Endnotes
|Position||At the bottom of the page under a line dividing main body of text from footnotes||At the end of the document, in a separate section|
|Representation in the text||Superscripted number||Superscripted number|
|Numbering||Consecutive numbering||Depends on the document and style (either continuous or separate for each chapter)|
|Significance||Provides a quick explanation and additional information or citation using certain citation styles||Usually provides sources with titles and authors|
|Advantage||Allows grasping the idea immediately||Does not distract readers|
|Disadvantage||Might be too long||Might be inconvenient|
Footnotes, like endnotes, are used to provide references for certain source information mentioned in the text. Chicago is the most popular citation style in academic writing that uses footnotes. It calls for information borrowed from other books or articles to be documented at the end of the page in the form of footnotes. The reference list is also obligatory in this citation and formatting style. However, footnotes sometimes may interfere the flow of the paper and distract the reader.
Meanwhile, endnotes can be highly helpful when compiling and printing an entire document or book, simplifying the process of formatting and publication. Having all endnotes gathered in a single space means that they can be easily structured and presented, providing readers with necessary information upon request. Furthermore, endnotes do not detract from the text on the page so that nothing distracts the reader from the material. Their most significant drawback is that readers need to page back and forth between the text and the endnotes to benefit from the additional information that the endnotes provide.
Both footnotes and endnotes are used to provide information about the sources the author relies on when creating an article, a book, or another type of document. Footnotes may sometimes provide brief explanatory comments that supplement the text by introducing additional details to aid in understanding the information correctly without any uncertainties. As their names imply, footnotes are located at the bottom of the page, while endnotes are organized into a separate section at the end of a document or section of a longer manuscript. Both types of notes use superscripted numbers embedded in the text immediately following a certain word or sentence to direct the reader to the reference or additional notes. Depending on the formatting style or guidelines of the publishing house, numbering is either consecutive throughout the entire document or separate in each chapter or section. Both footnotes and endnotes offer a range of advantages and disadvantages. Footnotes provide a quick referral to additional information, explanations, or sources at the bottom of the page. However, lengthy footnotes can crowd out the text on a page. Meanwhile, endnotes do not affect formatting but might be difficult to locate and tend to interrupt the reading process.