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What Is the MLA Format for Annotated Footnotes?


An annotated footnote appears at the bottom of a page, in the footer or two double-spaces below your text. It provides your readers with additional information that cannot be properly included in your text. The Modern Language Association recommends that you limit the use of footnotes. Instead, the MLA advises that you use references enclosed in parentheses within the text, except for two situations when footnotes are appropriate.

Bibliographic Annotated Footnote

When you want to refer your readers to other publications that they may want to consult on a specific topic, you can feature this in your footnote. These annotated footnotes feature comments and explanations that do not fit within the main body of your paper. Your bibliographic annotated footnote may appear like this:

“1. For a full description of Greek attitudes toward hubris, see Thomas 48-56; Jenkins 35; and especially Papadakis 56-70.”

Explanatory Annotated Footnote

You can also use annotated footnotes to provide your readers with a brief amount of additional information that would digress too much if included in your main text. Information that you may include in your explanatory annotated footnote could appear like this:

“2. In a 1998 interview, she reiterated this point even more strongly: "I am an artist, not a politician!" (Weller 124).”

In-Text Format

According to the sixth edition of the “Modern Language Association Handbook for Writers of Research Papers,” use superscript Arabic numbers after the punctuation or clause to properly include a footnote in your paper. If the referencing information appears in the middle of a sentence with additional punctuation, your footnote citation should appear like this, “Scholars have argued for years that this claim has no basis,7 (superscript) so we would do well to ignore it.” If it is at the end of a sentence, your citation should appear like this, “Oedipus clearly shows hubris by fleeing Corinth in an attempt to avert the oracle's terrible revelation of his fate.1 (superscript)”

Footnote Format

In MLA style, your footnotes should be single-spaced but insert a double-space between footnotes. The first line of each footnote should include a five-space indention. All subsequent lines should be flush left. Place a period and a space after each number. If a footnote continues onto the next page, insert a solid line at the beginning of the footer on the subsequent page, or two spaces below your text. Continue the footnote two spaces below this line. If the next page also features its own footnotes, place them two spaces below the continued footnote.

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About the Author

Fitzalan Gorman has more than 10 years of academic and commercial experience in research and writing. She has written speeches and text for CEOs, company presidents and leaders of major nonprofit organizations. Gorman has published for professional cycling teams and various health and fitness websites. She has a Master of Arts from Virginia Tech in political science and is a NASM certified personal trainer.

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