Difference between footnotes and endnotes

Every paper, regardless of the subject of research, includes the references and citations in it, which occur when you mention information taken from other sources. The main purpose of the references is to support the content presented with additional arguments or notes.

The most common reference notes used in texts are the Footnotes and Endnotes. They usually serve to indicate the source of information or the reference of a work mentioned in the text. Sometimes, they are used to include a brief comment in the text.

There is a very small difference between footnotes and endnotes, which is mainly the placement of the reference notes and some content differences. However, let us take a closer look at the difference between endnotes and footnotes and analyze them in details.

Footnotes and endnotes look mostly the same and usually contain the same or similar information.

3 main difference between a footnote and an endnote

  1. The primary difference between footnotes and endnotes is simply their placement within a text; footnotes are placed at the bottom of a page (also called as the footer), and the endnotes are located at the end of a whole document, or sometimes at the end of a chapter or section.
  2. Another difference between footnotes and endnotes used in the documents is the numbering of the reference notes. With the help of right numbering, one can easily find the need note (in the footer of the page or at the end of the paper respectively).
  3. The third difference between footnotes and endnotes is their substance. For example, if you need to put in the reference notes a piece of text or some long description, it is better to use the endnote. Or, if the information is not essential for the reader while reading the text, it can also be included as an endnote. However, for the short and important explanations and reference notes one should use the footnotes and locate them in the footer of the page. It is important to remember to keep footnotes short. Otherwise, they would distract the attention from the main text.

Sometimes the endnotes are used to highlight details of the reference quoted and the footnotes to highlight an abbreviated addition of an in-text excerpt.

The footnote always ends with a punctuation mark (usually a period), except the cases when it appears in graphical tables or financial statements. These notes are numbered consecutively, from the beginning to the end of the text.

When a footnote or the endnote is created, the note number is placed immediately behind the word or group of words to which it refers, usually in a random way. When a footnote is at the end of a sentence, it is always placed before the endpoint. No space should be left between the word and the number of the note.

The bibliographical references in the footnotes or endnotes should be presented in the following order:

  • name of the author;
  • title of the work (in italics);
  • data of the edition (original edition, second edition, etc.);
  • place of publication and name of publisher;
  • year of publication;
  • sometimes a number of the page (p.) or of the pages (pp.) to the one (s) being referenced.

Example: William Beahen and Stan Horrall, Red Coats on the Prairies, The North-West Mounted Police, 1886-1900 (Regina: PrintWest Publishing Services, 1998).

The authors are often asked to do the footnotes as small as possible, in quantity and length, and include them only when they facilitate the comprehension of the text, give an account of the sources used and have a considerable bibliographic interest.

It is important to make a responsible, ethical and legal use of the information that is used when academic work is done. By including bibliographic references (including footnotes and endnotes), one can identify ideas and information that have been taken from other authors. When using a standardized quotation style, the recognition of the sources used is recommended to overcome the confusion of the sources with not correct ones.

The preparation of an academic or scientific work requires the inclusion of a systematic and structured bibliography, which has two fundamental elements:

  • citations in the text: a brief reference form between parentheses within a paragraph or added as a footnote, at the end of a page or a chapter; or as an endnote, at the end of the document (depending on the rules of the style used);
  • the bibliographical references: a more extensive and alphabetized note at the end of the document divided by a numerical sequence corresponding to the order of citations in the text (also depending on the rules of the style used).