The topic of footnotes vs. endnotes involves deciding where to place supplemental or citation information. Both types of notes may be required in place of using in-text citations, or either type can be used in conjunction with in-text citations. If using footnotes or using endnotes is not a requirement, you may elect to use either.
Both footnotes and endnotes are used to note the following information:
The biggest difference between footnotes and endnotes is where the notes are placed. Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page for any notes that apply to each specific page; endnotes appear collectively at the end of a paper, starting on a separate page and labeled as “Endnotes.”
While the location differs for each, footnotes and endnotes have a few things in common.
Before using footnotes or using endnotes, you must understand the advantages and disadvantages of each.
The advantages of using footnotes include the following:
Similarly, there are disadvantages to using footnotes as well, including the following:
Using endnotes brings several advantages.
There are also disadvantages to using endnotes:
If you are not required to use or prohibited from using footnotes or endnotes, you can evaluate which suits your purposes better. For some papers under specific guidelines or instructor instructions, you may be able to use endnotes or footnotes in place of a list of references. Footnotes are mostly considered outdated, but some fields or instructors require their use.
When using footnotes and using endnotes, use care to format them properly. The specific formatting depends on the official style guide you are required to follow. Think critically about every piece of information for which you use these types of notes. For supplemental information, ask yourself if the information is disruptive or not closely related enough to keep it in the body of the text or if the information is vital enough to put directly in the text. When you are not sure, include the information in the text. As with anything, the overuse of footnotes or endnotes hurts the strength of your paper.