When do you use a footnote?

 • When you have used a quotation from a work.

• When you have referred to a work in your text.

• When you want to clarify a point, but not in the main text.

• When you want to acknowledge any assistance received.


How do you number footnotes?

Consecutively throughout your essay; or, if your project is divided into chapters or sections, consecutively throughout each chapter or section, starting again at Number 1 for each chapter/section.

Where do you write or type your footnotes?

Some computers have a footnotes facility on the menu bar.

How do you set out footnotes?

Below is a typical piece of work with the footnotes that go with it.

In 1756 a member of Parliament said: ‘I did not believe that there had been any men so presumptuous as to make the proposal which we have just heard!’1 Adam Smith condemned income taxes as necessarily involving an unacceptable encroachment on

privacy.2 He also said: ‘Many workmen could not subsist a month, and scarce any a

year without employment’.3 There was also a long debate on excise duties.4


1) William Cobbett, ed., The Parliamentary History of England (London, Nelson, 1806-20), XIV, pp.1318–19.

2) The Wealth of Nations, edited by Edwin Connan (London, Cass, 1925), II, pp. 351-2.

3) Ibid., p.68.

4) For an explanation of Robert Walpole’s excise scheme, see E.R. Turner, ‘The Excise Scheme of 1733’, English Historical Review, 42 (1927) pp.34-57.


Here are a few explanations of the footnotes just quoted:

(a) Italics: use for all titles of books (examples 1 & 2) and the titles of periodicals (example 4). You can underline instead if you are

handwriting your assignment.

 (b) Quotation marks: use single quotation marks round titles of articles in periodicals (Example 4).

(c) When you have given the full name of the author in the text, you need not repeat it in the footnote (example 2).

(d) Ed. Means ‘editor’ (example 1).

(e) p. and pp. mean ‘page’ and ‘pages’ respectively (see all examples).

(f) Brackets: put brackets round the place of publication, publisher,and date of pub lication for books (examples 1 and 2) and round date of publication for periodical articles (example 4).

 (g) Volume numbers: where the book has a volume number (examples 1 and 2), write it (in Roman or Arabic numerals according to what is printed on the original) after the date. Write the volume number of a periodical before the date (example 4).

 (h) Ibid. is a standard abbreviation which is used in footnotes. Use it only when the footnote refers to exactly the same work as cited in the previous footnote (examples 2 and 3).

Another standard abbreviation which can be used is op.cit. This can be used when referring to a work which has already been cited in the footnotes but which does not appear immediately before the footnote concerned.


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