Difference Between Footnotes and Endnotes

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The most obvious difference between footnotes and endnotes is the placement of each within a paper. Footnotes are found at the bottom of a page (i.e. in the footer) and endnotes are located at the end of a complete document, or sometimes at the end of a chapter or section.

While the content in footnotes and endnotes can look the same, they serve different functions. Footnotes are used as a citation vehicle for a short citation, while endnotes can contain more text without compromising the format of the paper. They each also typically use a different numbering system, which allows the reader to determine where they should look for the additional information (either in the footer of the page, or at the end of the document).

MLA has recommended parenthetical documentation instead of footnotes since the late 1980s. Parenthetical references in conjunction with a works cited list are not only the most common citation formatting styles, but together also form a clear method of citing your sources. See our MLA and APA guides on parenthetical citations for more info.

While most instructors that ask you to use MLA or APA prefer parenthetical citations, some may request that you use endnotes or footnotes instead. Please note that the MLA Handbook: Eighth Edition does not recommend using footnotes or endnotes. If your teacher prefers APA style, see pages 37-38 of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for details.

For tips on how to correctly format your citations in both MLA and APA, check out our guides below.

MLA Citation Guide

APA Citation Guide

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