Differences Between Footnotes & Endnotes

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Footnotes and endnotes have many similarities, including providing explanations about an idea in a document's main text that is not common knowledge. They also both reference outside sources relevant to the topic in the main text, as well as the original source of an argument discussed in it. They both provide more information about a topic than can be discussed in the main text. They do have a few differences, however.

Footnotes

  • Footnotes are generally placed at the bottom of the page of text that they correspond to. For example, you may see a superscript number 1 at the end of a sentence in the main part of the text on a certain page. If you look at the bottom of that page, a superscript number 1 in a separate section with smaller print will provide more information about the topic referenced in the main text.

Endnotes

  • Endnotes are usually placed at the end of a chapter or the end of the book. They are listed numerically. They do not correspond with the particular page they are on, as they are often listed on their own pages at the end of a section of the document or at the end of the entire document.

Style

  • Whether you should use footnotes or endnotes will depend largely on the type of paper or document you are writing, as well as whom you are writing the document for. The style manual preferred by the organization or person you are writing for (Chicago or Modern Language Association style, for example) will also dictate which one you use. Some publishers and editors tend to prefer endnotes because a book with endnotes is cheaper to produce. Endnotes are cheaper because, for one reason, they do not require the entire formatting of the main text to be changed when one needs to be added or deleted, unlike footnotes.

College Practices

  • Many colleges prefer in-text parenthetical citations instead of endnotes or footnotes. An instructor at a college may require students to include one or the other, however. It is important, therefore, to follow your individual teachers' instructions for using endnotes or footnotes in your papers.

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