How to Write Footnotes for a Report

Footnotes are used in a report for citing sources for exact quotations, opinions or specific facts. They are also used to reference other materials, make an incidental comment, or acknowledge the work of someone else. There are different standards that can be used when formatting a footnote, one of them being the “Chicago Manual of Style.” Footnotes are numbered, starting with the number “1.” After each quote or other citation in the text of the report, the footnote number is placed after the ending punctuation in a superscript number.

Write the report, adding footnote numbers to the ends of sentences that use citations.

List the citation for each footnote in the report in a separate file, or at the end of the document you are writing. Use the superscript number at the beginning of the citation, followed by the citation in the correct footnote format.

Use the following formats for each corresponding footnote. For a book, list as follows: author, title of book (underlined), the city and state of publication and the publisher and the year of publication all separated by a comma and enclosed in parentheses, “pg.” followed by the page number and a period. Check with "The Chicago Manual of Style" or an online style guide for other footnote formats.

Use a shortened version of the footnote if you come to a citation from a source you have already listed in your footnotes. Simply type “Op. Cit.” followed by a comma, the author’s last name, a comma, the page number and a period.

Write “Ibid.” followed by the page number and a period if you cite a reference that was used in the footnote directly before the one you are writing.

Copy and paste your footnote text from your file to the bottom of the page corresponding to the footnote number. If you prefer, you can insert text boxes with no border so that the text box can be moved to a different page later if desired.

  • Look at sample reports online to see how italics and underlining is used in footnotes.
  • Ask an academically trained person to double-check your footnotes for correct formatting.
  • If the report is for a school assignment, some teachers may be stricter than others on grading for correct footnote formatting and lower your grade accordingly.
About the Author

Doug Hewitt has been writing for over 20 years and has a Master of Arts from University of North Carolina-Greensboro. He authored the book "The Practical Guide to Weekend Parenting," which includes health and fitness hints for parents. He and his wife, Robin, are coauthors of the "Free College Resource Book."