Endnotes Essay

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," http://www.pizzaface.com/conclusions/conclu.html.

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.

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Copyright 1996-2004 by Michael Klingensmith

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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

Advantages of Using Endnotes

  • Endnotes are less distracting to the reader and allows the narrative to flow better.
  • Endnotes don't clutter up the page.
  • As a separate section of a research paper, endnotes allow the reader to read and contemplate all the notes at once.

Disadvantages of Using Endnotes

  • If you want to look at the text of a particular endnote, you have to flip to the end of the research paper to find the information.
  • Depending on how they are created [i.e., continuous numbering or numbers that start over for each chapter], you may have to remember the chapter number as well as the endnote number in order to find the correct one.
  • Endnotes may carry a negative connotation much like the proverbial "fine print" or hidden disclaimers in advertising. A reader may believe you are trying to hide something by burying it in a hard-to-find endnote.

Advantages of Using Footnotes

  • Readers interested in identifying the source or note can quickly glance down the page to find what they are looking for.
  • It allows the reader to immediately link the footnote to the subject of the text without having to take the time to find the note at the back of the paper.
  • Footnotes are automatically included when printing off specific pages.

Disadvantages of Using Footnotes

  • Footnotes can clutter up the page and, thus, negatively impact the overall look of the page.
  • If there are multiple columns, charts, or tables below only a small segment of text that includes a footnote, then you must decide where the footnotes should appear.
  • If the footnotes are lengthy, there's a risk they could dominate the page, although this issue is considered acceptable in legal scholarship.

Things to keep in mind when considering using either endnotes or footnotes in your research paper:

1.    Footnotes are numbered consecutively throughout a research paper, except for those notes accompanying special material (e.g., figures, tables, charts, etc.). Numbering of footnotes are "superscript"--Arabic numbers typed slightly above the line of text. Do not include periods, parentheses, or slashes. They can follow all punctuation marks except dashes. In general, to avoid interrupting the continuity of the text, footnote numbers are placed at the end of the sentence, clause, or phrase containing the quoted or paraphrased material.

2.    Depending on the writing style used in your class, endnotes may take the place of a list of resources cited in your paper or they may represent non-bibliographic items, such as comments or observations, followed by a separate list of references to the sources you cited and arranged alphabetically by the author's last name. If you are unsure about how to use endnotes, consult with your professor.

3.    In general, the use of footnotes in most academic writing is now considered a bit outdated and has been replaced by endnotes, which are much easier to place in your paper, even with the advent of word processing programs. However, some disciplines, such as law and history, still predominantly utilize footnotes. Consult with your professor about which form to use and always remember that, whichever style of citation you choose, apply it consistently throughout your paper.

NOTE:  Always think critically about the information you place in a footnote or endnote. Ask yourself, is this supplementary or tangential information that would otherwise disrupt the narrative flow of the text or is this essential information that I should integrate into the main text? If you are not sure, it's better to work it into the text. Too many notes implies a disorganized paper.


Cermak, Bonni and Jennifer Troxell. A Guide to Footnotes and Endnotes for NASA History Authors. NASA History Program. History Division; Hale, Ali. Should You Use Footnotes or Endnotes? DailyWritingTips.com; Tables, Appendices, Footnotes and Endnotes. The Writing Lab and The OWL. Purdue University; Lunsford, Andrea A. and Robert Connors. The St. Martin's Handbook. New York: St. Martin's Press, 1989; Saller, Carol. “Endnotes or Footnotes? Some Considerations.” The Chronicle of Higher Education 58 (January 6, 2012): http://chronicle.com/blogs/linguafranca/2012/01/06/endnotes-or-footnotes-some-considerations/.

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