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How To Use Footnotes In An Essay Apa Style

Footnotes and Endnotes

Summary:

APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 6th edition, second printing of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page. For more information, please consult the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, (6th ed., 2nd printing).

Contributors: Joshua M. Paiz, Elizabeth Angeli, Jodi Wagner, Elena Lawrick, Kristen Moore, Michael Anderson, Lars Soderlund, Allen Brizee, Russell Keck
Last Edited: 2018-02-21 02:31:05

APA does not recommend the use of footnotes and endnotes because they are often expensive for publishers to reproduce. However, if explanatory notes still prove necessary to your document, APA details the use of two types of footnotes: content and copyright.

When using either type of footnote, insert a number formatted in superscript following almost any punctuation mark. Footnote numbers should not follow dashes ( — ), and if they appear in a sentence in parentheses, the footnote number should be inserted within the parentheses.

Scientists examined—over several years1—the fossilized remains of the wooly-wooly yak.2 (These have now been transferred to the Chauan Museum.3)

When using the footnote function in a word-processing program like Microsoft Word, place all footnotes at the bottom of the page on which they appear. Footnotes may also appear on the final page of your document (usually this is after the References page). Center the word “Footnotes” at the top of the page. Indent five spaces on the first line of each footnote. Then, follow normal paragraph spacing rules. Double-space throughout.

1 While the method of examination for the wooly-wooly yak provides important insights to this research, this document does not focus on this particular species.

Content Notes

Content notes provide supplemental information to your readers. When providing content notes, be brief and focus on only one subject. Try to limit your comments to one small paragraph.

Content notes can also point readers to information that is available in more detail elsewhere.

1 See Blackmur (1995), especially chapters 3 and 4, for an insightful analysis of this extraordinary animal.

Copyright Permission Notes

If you quote more than 500 words of published material or think you may be in violation of “Fair Use” copyright laws, you must get the formal permission of the author(s). All other sources simply appear in the reference list.

Follow the same formatting rules as with content notes for noting copyright permissions. Then attach a copy of the permission letter to the document.

If you are reproducing a graphic, chart, or table, from some other source, you must provide a special note at the bottom of the item that includes copyright information. You should also submit written permission along with your work. Begin the citation with “Note.”

Note. From “Title of the article,” by W. Jones and R. Smith, 2007, Journal Title, 21, p. 122. Copyright 2007 by Copyright Holder. Reprinted with permission.

When should footnotes be used?

The APA suggests two instances in which footnotes may be used:

  • Content Footnotes: to offer further information on a topic that is not directly related to the text. As content footnotes should be concise, avoid writing lengthy paragraphs or including extraneous information.
  • Copyright Permission Footnotes: to cite adapted or reprinted materials in the paper, especially data sets, tables, and quotations that exceed 400 words. Consult the APA Publication Manual (6th ed.) for more information about copyright permissions.

It is recommended to refrain from extensive usage of footnotes as this practice may distract or confuse readers. When applicable, incorporate additional information in the main text of the paper, but avoid inserting irrelevant material. Footnotes should briefly present the reader with meaningful information that enhances your argument.

How should footnotes be formatted?

Footnotes may be displayed in one of two ways:

  • Listed at the bottom of the relevant page
  • Assembled altogether on a new page, following the References page(s)

If the footnotes are compiled on a separate page, the title “Footnotes” should be centered at the top of the page. Avoid formatting the title with bold, italics, underlining, or quotation marks. Indent the first line of each footnote five spaces from the left margin, and double-space the entire page. Each footnote number should be formatted as a superscript, and should be situated after all punctuation marks excluding a long dash (—).

Let’s look at some examples of using footnotes in a sentence:

  • Example 1 – Content Footnote: “Under the DSHEA, dietary supplements no longer receive approval from the FDA before being marketed unless the supplement contains a new dietary ingredient (DSHEA, 1994).1

1A new dietary ingredient is defined as dietary ingredients that were not marketed in the United States in a dietary supplement prior to October 15, 1994.

 

  • Example 2 – Content Footnote: “The questionnaire (see Supplementary material3) was comprised of 4 parts: student perception regarding content of nutrition education; duration of time spent on nutrition education; preferred education approach to nutrition; and demographics.”

3Supplementary data are available on the journal Web site (https://apnm.nrc.ca) or may be purchased from the Depository of Unpublished Data, Document Delivery, CISTI, National Research Council Canada, Building M-55, 1200 Montreal Road, Ottawa, ON K1A 0R6, Canada. DUD 5396. For more information on obtaining material refer to https://cisti-icist.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/ibp/cisti/collection/unpublished-data.html.

 

  • Example 3 – Copyright Permission Footnote: “Trust in authority was measured using four items drawn from models of motive-based trust (Tyler & Huo, 2002).2

2From the chapters “Motive-Based Trust and Decision Acceptance” and “Societal Orientations: Legitimacy and Connections With Society” in Trust in the Law: Encouraging Public Cooperation With the Police and Courts, by Tom R. Tyler and Yuen J. Huo, 2002, New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Copyright 2002 by the Russell Sage Foundation, 112 East 64th Street, New York, NY 10021. Reprinted with permission.

Compiling footnotes at the end of your paper

Below is an example of how you might format your footnotes if you compile them on a separate page at the end of your paper.

 

For more information about referencing sources in APA:


[1] Dodge, T., & Kaufman, A. (2007). What makes consumers think dietary supplements are safe and effective? The role of disclaimers and FDA approval. Health Psychology, 26(4), 513-517. doi:10.1037/0278-6133.26.4.513

[2] Gramlich, L. M., Olstad, D., Nasser, R., Goonewardene, L., Raman, M., Innis, S., & ... Roy, C. (2010). Medical students’ perceptions of nutrition education in Canadian universities. Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism, 35(3), 336-343. doi:10.1139/H10-016

[3] De Cremer, D., & Tyler, T. R. (2007). The effects of trust in authority and procedural fairness on cooperation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(3), 639-649. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.92.3.639