How to Write Footnotes and Endnotes in APA Style

Footnotes can provide readers with extra content or copyright information.

The American Psychological Association format is an academic style of writing that is used extensively in behavioral and social sciences as well as many other disciplines. Most times, APA style does not recommend the use of footnotes or endnotes. However, sometimes it is appropriate to use them when you need to provide supplementary content or the status of copyright permissions.

Footnote Versus Endnote

The terms "footnote" and "endnote" refer to additional information provided for the reader through the use of superscript numbers and explanatory text. A footnote appears at the bottom of the page on which it was inserted. Endnotes, however, are listed together on a separate page at the end of the document. As the writer, you should choose the most appropriate layout for your paper. If you choose to keep the notes together and place them at the end of the paper, this page should be titled with a level-one heading of "Footnotes" (without quotes). Indent five spaces from the left margin and insert the footnote text, including the superscript number.

Content Footnotes

Because content footnotes provide additional information to the reader -- such as clarification or explanation -- you don't need to follow any specific format. However, you must ensure that footnotes do not distract the reader from the main text by including irrelevant or confusing information. It is also important to focus on one singular idea in a footnote rather than multiple lengthy elaborations. If you feel a lengthy elaboration is warranted, this information is better placed within the text of your writing or as an appendix than as a footnote.

Copyright Footnotes

Copyright footnotes attribute the source of reprinted or adapted figures and tables, long quotes, and scale and test items. Use a numbered footnote only to supply the source of long quotes. For tables, use a table note; for figures, credit the source at the end of the figure's caption.

For copyright permission footnotes, follow this formatting.

Journal From [or The data in column 2 are from] "Title of Article," by A. B. Author and C. D. Author, year, ​Title of Journal​ (italicized), ​Volume​ (italicized), p. #. Copyright [year] by the Name of Copyright Holder. Reprinted [or adapted] with permission.


From "How the iPad Changed my Life," by R. J. Taylor and M. A. Schimmel, 2012, ​Educational Technology​ (italicized), ​5​ (italicized), p. 24. Copyright 2012 by R. J. Taylor and M. A. Schimmel. Reprinted with permission.


From [or The data in column 2 are from] ​Title of Book​ (italicized) (p. xxx), by A. B. Author and C. D. Author, year, Place of Publication: Publisher. Copyright [year] by the Name of Copyright Holder. Reprinted [or adapted] with permission.


The data in column 1 are from ​Intercultural Competence in Practice​ (italicized) (p. 125), by B. Snyder and L. A. Crown, 2013, Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. Copyright 2013 by Sage Publications. Adapted with permission.

General Footnote and Endnote Considerations

Footnotes or endnotes should be numbered consecutively with superscript numbers. They always come after any punctuation mark except a dash, which the superscript number precedes. If you use a footnote within parentheses, the footnote comes inside the closing parenthesis.

When referring to a previous footnote in your writing, treat it as an in-text citation rather than rewriting the footnote.

For example:

A sleep study of similarly aged females yielded comparable results (see Footnote 4).

You may use footnotes in an APA-style research paper to further explain content and to provide copyright permission, if necessary.

Formatting the Notes (APA Style Guide):

  • Signal a footnote in the text with a superscript numeral. The numeral comes after most punctuation marks, except for a dash; if the sentence is in parentheses, put the numeral inside the parenthesis, too.
  • The notes themselves go at the bottom of the page; make sure these appear on the same page as the numeral.
  • You may also list all notes at the end of the paper, after the references page. These are called “APA footnotes” even when they are listed at the end. The notes should begin with the superscript numeral.
  • The first line of text is indented five spaces. Keep the note in the same font and size as the rest of the paper, and double-space the text.

What Is the Purpose of Footnotes?

Ultimately, footnotes provide additional information to a body of work. These can be useful for readers when coming across a term they may not know. The notes at the bottom of the page serve as a reference list for readers, where they can put a meaning to an unfamiliar word. The use of footnotes can often be seen in books and essays.

Types of Footnotes:

  • Content footnotes​: provides supplemental information about a given topic.
  • Copyright permission footnotes​: gives credit to information you are providing within a text. Providing the copyright holder is vital in avoiding plagiarism of work.

Footnotes vs. Endnotes

Endnotes can serve as an alternative option if a body of work has an abundance of footnotes. A difference between the two is that footnotes are located at the bottom of the page, whereas endnotes are at the end of the work. You can often find endnotes on a separate page.

Depending on the citation style of your work, some may require footnotes, whereas others may require endnotes. For example, APA format may look different than MLA format. Additionally, endnotes provide a similar attribution to footnotes, in which context is provided for a term listed in the main text. They are used for parenthetical information, webpages, and journal articles.

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