Research Paper End Notes

MLA Endnotes and Footnotes


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 (8th 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, Michelle Campbell, Rodrigo Rodríguez-Fuentes, Daniel P. Kenzie, Susan Wegener, Maryam Ghafoor, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2018-01-16 01:42:04

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)

The 8th edition of the MLA Handbook does not specify how to format footnotes. See the MLA Style Center for additional guidance on this topic and follow your instructor's or editor's preferences.

The big idea

You cite your sources to prove to your reader where you got your information.  In some instances, the reader may be so interested in what you wrote that he or she wants to read more about the topic.  Citations tell where to find the same sources you used.

Before you begin

Be sure that you keep track of all necessary information AS YOU ARE DOING YOUR RESEARCH.  Jot down the title of the book or magazine, author, publisher, date, and so on.  Writing this stuff down as you go is one heck of a lot easier than going back to the library later on to hunt it all up.

How to do it

End notes are one way to show where you got your information for a research paper.  End notes are not the same as a bibliography.  Not, not, not.

What to cite:

  1. Everything that you quote
  2. Any fact that is not common knowledge
  3. Any conclusions reached by other people, a phrase which here means "intelligent things said or written by somebody--not you--that are based on mountains and mountains of study done on a particular topic"

Where to cite

At the end of each sentence.  Here's what it looks like.  Look for the little numbers hanging up in the air above the line.  Those numbers tell you where to look on the end notes page to learn where each fact came from.  I've made them red here so they stand out, but don't do that in your own papers.  (When you're doing it, use "superscript" in your word processing program to get the numbers to float in the air.)

Where to document: at the end of the paper.  End notes get their own page.  At the end.  That's why they're called end notes.  Here's what it looks like:

  1. Smith, Spudley, A Foot, a Skunk, a Legend: The Bob Flob Story (New York: Odoreaters Press, 1987), p.  43.
  2. O'Williams, William W., "Skunk Kicking," Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1974, Macropaedia.
  3. Kirk, James T., Everything You Never Wanted to Know About the Olympics (Hollister, CA: Earthquake Books, 1983), p.  100.
  4. Steven Spielberg, dir., Flob, with Hilary Duff and Arnold Schwartzeneggar.
  5. "Other People's Conclusions: The Web Site,"

Please note that there is a whole bunch of rules about what to put on the end notes page if, for example, you've already mentioned a book but you're using a fact from a different page.  Ignore all those rules for right now.  There's plenty of time for life to get complicated later.

Return to the Online Writing Guide Index.

Copyright 1996-2004 by Michael Klingensmith

An easy to understand Online Writing Guide for beginning writers.  Here you will find a list of various writing models, general tips and hints to help guide you to writing success.

The sport of twenty-meter freestyle skunk kicking was invented by Bob Flob on March 25, 1957.  Flob was angry at a skunk which had been chasing him as he rode his bike.  "Leaping off his bicycle, Flob picked up the skunk, dropped it, and booted it through the air.  Yowling in pain and fear, the skunk sailed cleanly between two telephone poles.  A new sport was born."1 Since that day, skunk kicking has grown in popularity, and is now played in 93 countries.2 It was introduced as an Olympic sport in the summer games of 1992 in Barcelona, and a winter variation, skunk hockey, will make its appearance in the winter games of 2006.3 It has even been featured in a number of motion pictures, even though the blockbuster movie Flob changed some of the facts to make the story more interesting.4 Clearly, the sport has become an important part of societies the world over, in ways that nobody could have imagined on the day that Flob abused his first polecat.5 Of course, the sport has changed since Flob's day: the modern skunk-kicker uses an impressive array of safety equipment and the skunk can be either punted or kicked off a tee.

Last Modified: Tuesday, February 9, 2016 @ 1:14 pm

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