How To Organize Footnotes In A Research Paper – Free Tutorial

Not everyone needs to use them but if you do then this is a really handy tutorial.

  • A footnote is a type of in-text citation format that allows you to add an annotation on the same page that you are using for your main text.
  • They are useful where you need to provide more information about one of your referencing sources or when you need to add an explanatory note.
  • They are not used for academic papers in all fields of study but they are generally used in History and Philosophy papers.
  • Scientists very rarely use this method but the exception to the rule is that Biology Journals tend to use footnotes.

The downside to using this citation method is that it can be a little more clumsy to use that the usual referencing format systems.

If you look at a paper that includes footnotes you will notice the following characteristics:

  • It has a superscripted number that is added just after the information that has been paraphrased.
  • The superscripted number is is cross-referenced to the additional information that has been added to the 'foot' of the same page.
  • The superscripted number helps keep track of the citations.

Keeping track of information.

Many writers use footnotes as a method of keeping track of the information they are adding to their paper. Once they have completed the paper they then covert them to endnotes that can be either added at the end of each chapter or removed altogether and replaced by any of the standard referencing formats.


You don't have to manually insert them. The beauty of most modern word processing programs is that they now have a function that can do it automatically. By through by accessing the Referencing tool then clicking on Footnote. Not only does it automatically add your citation, it numbers it for you too. Just in case you want to swap some of your information, you can cut and paste and the information and it automatically adjusts the position of the citation information. So you can see why authors of research papers favour this as a tool to help them keep track of their work and also their thought processes.

There is one major rule that governs their use – you need to insert the full citation. The full citation consists of author, year and title of book and page number, and then just the last name and the page number is sufficient. You can then convert to any of the major referencing formats.

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