How to Write Footnotes in MLA Style

Many students or scholars use footnotes to document sources. The most common methods used to notate sources are endnotes and footnotes. Endnotes, as their name suggests, are placed at the end of the document, on a new page. Footnotes, however, appear at the bottoms of pages.

Prepare to Insert the Footnote

Review your word-processing program to find out about how to insert footnotes. The insertion process may differ according to the software you use and the version you have.

Elect to place your footnote at the bottom of the page to conform to Modern Language Association (MLA) standards.

Click “OK," and your cursor will automatically take you to the bottom of the page. The “1” is there because you have just created your first footnote.

Compose Your Footnote

Review the MLA style for the appropriate type of source. Consult the "MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers," by Joseph Gibaldi, to verify how you should structure your particular footnote.

Type the footnote, according to the MLA style for the type of publication you are referencing. For example, if you're referencing a book by a single author, it should be composed as follows: author's first and last name, book title (city of publication: publisher, year of publication), page number or number(s) referenced in text.

Review the footnote for accuracy.

Check Formatting

Check the visual layout of your final footnote. If your footnote continued onto the following page, add a solid line across the new page, two lines below the last line of the text, and continue the note two lines below the solid line.

Make sure that the footnotes on the new page automatically followed the note continued from the previous page, after the double space.

Double-check the content and structure of your footnote. Make sure you check both the text and the visual layout.

  • Use the "Help" option in your software if you get confused.
About the Author

Writing professionally since 2005, Angela Eward-Mangione is an instructor in college-level writing courses. Her articles have appeared in "Tampa Bay Wellness Magazine" and "Parent Guide Magazine." She holds a Master of Liberal Arts degree from the University of South Florida.

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