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MLA Endnotes and Footnotes

Summary:

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th ed.) and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

Contributors:Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2013-04-18 07:49:54

Because long explanatory notes can be distracting to readers, most academic style guidelines (including MLA and APA, the American Psychological Association) recommend limited use of endnotes/footnotes; however, certain publishers encourage or require note references in lieu of parenthetical references.

MLA discourages extensive use of explanatory or digressive notes. MLA style does, however, allow you to use endnotes or footnotes for bibliographic notes, which refer to other publications your readers may consult. The following are some examples:

     1. See Blackmur, especially chapters 3 and 4, for an insightful analysis of this trend.
     2. On the problems related to repressed memory recovery, see Wollens 120-35; for a contrasting view, see Pyle 43; Johnson, Hull, Snyder 21-35; Krieg 78-91.
     3. Several other studies point to this same conclusion. See Johnson and Hull 45-79, Kather 23-31, Krieg 50-57.

Or, you can also use endnotes/footnotes for occasional explanatory notes (also known as content notes), which refers to brief additional information that might be too digressive for the main text:

     4. In a 1998 interview, she reiterated this point even more strongly: "I am an artist, not a politician!" (Weller 124).

Numbering endnotes and footnotes in the document body

Endnotes and footnotes in MLA format are indicated in-text by superscript arabic numbers after the punctuation of the phrase or clause to which the note refers:

Some have argued that such an investigation would be fruitless.6
Scholars have argued for years that this claim has no basis,7 so we would do well to ignore it.

Note that when a long dash appears in the text, the footnote/endnote number appears before the dash:

For years, scholars have failed to address this point8—a fact that suggests their cowardice more than their carelessness.

Do not use asterisks (*), angle brackets (>), or other symbols for note references. The list of endnotes and footnotes (either of which, for papers submitted for publication, should be listed on a separate page, as indicated below) should correspond to the note references in the text.

Formatting endnotes and footnotes

Endnotes Page

MLA recommends that all notes be listed on a separate page entitled Notes (centered, no formatting). Use Note if there is only one note. The Notes page should appear before the Works Cited page. This is especially important for papers being submitted for publication.

The notes themselves should be listed by consecutive arabic numbers that correspond to the notation in the text. Notes are double-spaced. The first line of each endnote is indented five spaces; subsequent lines are flush with the left margin. Place a period and a space after each endnote number. Provide the appropriate note after the space.

Footnotes (below the text body)

Please note that the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook does not specify explicitly how to fully format footnotes, at least not when compared to the prescriptions in the 6th  edition. Consult your instructor to see what his or her preference is when formatting footnotes in MLA style.

The following comes from the 6th and 7th editions. The 6th edition of the MLA Handbook contains information on how to format footnotes, however. Begin footnotes four lines (two double-spaced lines) below the main text. Footnotes are double-space with a first-line indent. (The first line of each footnote is indented five spaces; subsequent lines are flush with the left margin.) Place a period and a space after each footnote number. Provide the appropriate note after the space.

For more information on using endnotes and footnotes, consult “Using Notes with Parenthetical Documentation” in the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 7th ed. sec. 6.5, 230-32), or the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing, (3rd ed. sec. 7.5, 259-60).

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