General Question

nomtastic's avatar

when writing a paper, when do you use footnotes and when do you cite on the page (endnotes)?

Asked by nomtastic (974points) March 2nd, 2007
i don't know if this is a matter of custom or convention. i think that footnotes are for specific references, and endnotes are for broad ideas by another author. *and please, don't refer me to the chicago - or any other - manual of style.*
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9 Answers

sarahsugs's avatar
I don't know, but I used to use endnotes when I needed my paper to be longer, and footnotes when I needed it to fit within a page limit. Seriously! :-) I never had a professor question me on either one. So I would say take your pick.
sarahsugs's avatar
Hm. I just reread your question. Perhaps you mean endnotes as in within parentheses? Here's what I meant to say. I used footnotes (at the bottom of each page) when I needed a longer paper, and endnotes (at the end of the whole document) for fitting within a page limit. Parentheses I know not.
Perchik's avatar
Well I think it depends on your professor or teacher. But I also think you are right in your generalization, endnotes are for ideas whereas footnotes are for references. So overall, I don't know, but I would like more information as well.
taxlover's avatar
If I'm not mistaken, it has to do with the academic field the paper is about. If you look at legal articles, I think you will find that footnotes are common for citations. In social sciences it is common to use parentheses in the body of the document for citation, and then cite fully at the end of the document. However, I've see exceptions to this in many articles. If you can't ask the professor, ask your friends and go with the flow. BTW, I'm sorry, but you might still have to refer to the manual if you want to get the citations right. I know that we get points taken off when citations are not according to the "Blue Book".
bob's avatar
You can use footnotes or endnotes for both purposes you describe. It's a question of style or preference. If your teacher prefers one, then you should probably use that one. But don't mix footnotes and endnotes within the same paper.
bob's avatar
It's also worth mentioning that parenthetical citations (with a works cited list at the end of the paper) are more common in college papers than either footnotes or endnotes.
finkelitis's avatar
I think this is essentially a convention that varies by field. Unless you're within one of those specific fields, you can probably employ footnotes and endnotes in the way that you think makes your paper most readable.
hossman's avatar
Depends on the style you're required to use. MLA, APA, Harvard Blue Book, AP Style Book, all are different.
cwilbur's avatar

Smart professors have a feel for how long a 10-page page paper is; smarter ones, when they are in doubt, count words, not pages, and so there’s no quantitative difference between footnotes and endnotes in that regard.

In former times, before word processors, endnotes were much less of a pain when typing. Now, they’re all easy enough, and you should use whatever your field uses or whatever your professor specifies.

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