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[All styles] Are footnotes and endnotes used in MLA or APA styles?

Parenthetical references vs. footnotes/endnotes?

MLA has recommended parenthetical documentation instead of footnotes since the 1988 version of the MLA Handbook. Parenthetical references in conjunction with a works cited list, are in common use at most schools and colleges, except for some Ivy League schools. See our MLA and APA parenthetical reference help to create in-text references within your essay.

While most instructors generally prefer parenthetical citations, if your instructor wants you to use endnotes or footnotes, refer to The MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers 6th edition by Joseph Gibaldi, Appendix B.1, pp. 298-313 for additional detailed instructions.

Comparison of MLA and APA footnotes/endnotes

In both MLA and APA format, your notes appear as consecutively numbered superscript arabic numerals within the text. They refer either to footnotes at the bottom of the relevant page or to endnotes which are listed together on a separate page at the end of your paper. MLA calls the endnotes page "Notes" while APA calls this same page "Footnotes."

Example of a footnote within your essay:

"Media literacy and visual literacy are important components of an information literacy curriculum."2

Comparison of citation elements: notes vs. bibligraphy

In general terms, notes and bibliographic citations contain many of the same elements. While a footnote/endnote gives the specific page on which the quote or information appears, a bibliographic entry contains the inclusive page numbers of the work cited. The second footnote/endnote about the same source contains enough information to identify the work. In contrast, a bibliography contains the information for each source only once.

Suggested content of footnotes

APA format suggests using footnotes for two types of information: content comments and copyright permission.

A content comment footnote discusses a single idea that supplements or amplifies your point within the text.

Example of a content footnote:

2Until recently the teaching of cross-disciplinary meta-literacy skills has not been discussed in the literature of school librarianship.

A copyright permission footnote acknowledges the source of a quotation or the source of a reprinted table or figure.

Example of a copyright permission footnote for a reprinted chart from periodical:

2The chart is from "A Seven-Power Lens on 21st-Century Literacy" by D. Abilock, 2003, Multimedia Schools, 10, p. 30. Copyright 2003 by Debbie Abilock. Reprinted with permission.

This article last revised: 04/28/2013

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