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How To Write Research Paper Footnotes: Tips & Tricks


You must have read many non-fiction books with superscripts defined on the footers. When writers write something through inspiration, they make it a point to ascribe that inspiration at the foot of the same page. This is called a footnote.

Constituting a footnote


The footnote comprises of the reference, author; date and page number of the reference. Needles to say, it accords a sense of structure to a written piece, whether it is a book or a research paper. Nowadays, the format styles require you to write endnotes (references aligned on a relevant page after the research paper).

However, you can try smart tactics to include footnotes in the research paper. These are the tips and tricks you should try –

  • Definitions – The reference page generally gives only the basic information. However, if you need to define a particularly hard term used in the research paper, you can utilize the footnote. This way, the reader realizes he will not have any problems in understanding your piece.
  • Analogies – You may have placed a particular event in the research paper. Supposing the event has an analogy, you can use the footnote to mention the details as a footnote. Make sure you present exact and true analogy extracted from a credible resource, not something you seemed to have heard somewhere.
  • Alignment – If there is a case of complicated need for alignment, you may use the footnote to offer basic details and direct the reader to the reference page for a better understanding. This however creeps up very rarely.
  • Extractions – Suppose you have mentioned something religious; you may use the research paper footnote to present a particularly enlightening religious story. Make sure that the story if relevant to the paper.
  • Take-offs – If you have mentioned part of an excerpt or the literal meaning of a quote, you can present the quote or the excerpt on the footnote. Again, you have to be very discreet about such uses.

The related subjects


Footnotes are necessarily related with history, humanities and philosophy, which keep brewing up above examples. With exact science, the reference pages at the back suffice. Moreover, the reference page also ensures consistency of the format style.

A sense of mystique


Having said that, we must agree that there is a sense of mystique attached with footnotes. To many avid readers, it has been a prominent part of many books and journals. Many established writers use footnotes to relate with their earlier books to drive a rhythm.

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