Updated May 16, 2013




WHEN to footnote


Direct quotations.  Anytime you use somebody else's words, you must put them in quotation marks and footnote your source.  A long quote of several lines should be indented and single-spaced.  That takes the place of quotation marks, but you still have to footnote your source.


            Paraphrase.  When you put somebody else's ideas into your own words, you don't use quotation marks, but you still must footnote your source.  Otherwise, you are stealing his ideas and claiming them as your own.  That's cheating.


Facts.  It is very much to your advantage to bring in the experts to back up what you say, and prove that you are not making this stuff up.  The ideas should be yours, but your supporting facts should be traceable to an expert in the field.


Illustrations, charts, etc.  If it didn't come out of your clever little brain, you must acknowledge your source.


Informational footnote.  This is to slip in extra tidbits of information that don't quite belong in the main flow of your argument.  You probably won't use this technique much at first.



WHERE to put your notes


            In most cases, the number goes at the end of the sentence or paragraph.


Text notes.  In some specialized scientific fields, it is OK to indicate your source in parentheses right in the text.  (Often this is just author's last name and date or page number—with the full details given in a bibliography at the end.)  Most other fields will not allow this lazy method, so you may as well learn to do it right.


Footnotes.  These go at the bottom of the page.  Back in the days of typewriters, allowing enough space for the footnotes used to be a pain in the you-know-where.  But with computers, footnotes are a breeze.


Endnotes.  These go at the end of the article or chapter.  Back when type was all set by hand, printers of scholarly journals liked to bunch the notes at the end, so they could put them all in smaller type.  It is much harder for the reader to flip back and forth, and there is no reason for endnotes any more.  (With Microsoft Word, endnotes are now harder to do than footnotes, because that program uses Roman numerals.)  Stay away from them unless required.


Bibliography.  (Some watered-down programs call it a Works Cited List.)  This is something quite different, and goes at the end of your paper.  It is a list of all your sources, arranged alphabetically by the last names of the authors.  You might even have something in your bibliography that you consulted but decided not to use.  In notes, give the author's name in its normal order; the order is reversed for alphabetizing the bibliography.



HOW to footnote


There are several methods, but this one will work most of the time.  Watch very carefully where the commas and periods go.  Underlining is the same as italicizing.  For each type of source, the note format is shown first, followed by the bibliography format.



            Author, Title, (City: Publisher, Date), page cited.

            Author.  Title.  City: Publisher, Date.


Article, story, or poem from a collection

            Author, "Article Title," Book Title, Book Editor, (City: Publisher, Date), page cited.
"Article Title." Book Title.  Book Editor.  City: Publisher, Date.  pages of whole article.


Article from a newspaper or magazine

Author, "Article Title," Magazine Title volume: number (Date), page cited.

                                    Author.  "Article Title." Magazine Title, volume: number (Date), pages of whole article.


Formats for electronic sources are still evolving.  Generally, do all of the above that you can, and then follow with the electronic information.  Use page numbers only if they appear on the screen--not printout numbers which can vary.  If the information is on a CD, state that just before the sponsoring organization name.


Electronic encyclopedia

                                     "Article Title," Database Title, Version, Latest date, Sponsoring Organization, Date seen <url>.

                                     "Article Title."  Database Title.  Version.  Latest date.  Sponsoring Organization.  Date seen <url>.


Professional or scholarly web page

Author, "Page Title," Site Title, Latest date, Sponsoring Organization, Date seen <url>.

            Author.   "Page Title."  Site Title.  Latest date.  Sponsoring Organization.  Date seen <url>.


Magazine article found in a periodical database

                                     Author, "Article Title," Magazine Title volume: number (Date), Database Title, Sponsoring Organization, Date seen <url>.

                                     Author.  "Article Title.  Magazine Title volume: number (Date).  Database Title.  Sponsoring Organization.  Date seen <url>.



You only need to list all of these details once in your notes.  For second or third citations of the same source, writers once used lots of Latin terms like Ibid. and Op. cit.  Today, just use the short form of author's last name and page number each additional time.


One Latin term that you may find useful is et. al. when you are dealing with many authors.  (Example: David Jones et. al.)  In all cases, use only the first city listed.  Omit "Inc." or "Ltd." in publishers' names.



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