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What Are End Notes?

By Bethany Keene
Updated May 23, 2024
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End notes, sometimes written as endnotes, are citations used within written documents. This often includes formal academic or research documents, but they may be used in any type of written document, even fictional stories. Generally, end notes are found at the end of a chapter, or even at the end of a book. These are similar to footnotes, except footnotes are typically found at the bottom of a page. Each of these help to elaborate on a specific point made in the document, or they may provide a citation for a quote or other reference.

Generally, the presence of an end note in a document will be designated with a subscript or superscript number at the end of the sentence. The numbers always go in order; if it is necessary to add additional end notes in the chapter, it is necessary to rewrite the numbers so they are in numerical order. If a reader wants to see the source of a quote, then, he or she can simply note the number, flip to the end of the chapter and look through the list to find the corresponding number, and read the end note.

Citations, in which the last name of the author, the page number, or the publishing year are listed parenthetically at the end of the sentence, are a similar concept, but follow a different format. These citations generally do not provide any additional information in an end notes section, however. They are usually just associated with a references section, in which the full publication information of the source is listed.

In academic writing, different style guides might be used, each with its own specifications for creating end notes and citations. It is important to follow this style guide carefully, because many instructors will take points off of academic assignments for incorrect style, even if the paper is very well written. Regardless of the style guide used, consistency in using end notes is important.

The purpose of using end notes can vary. Sometimes, a writer will want to expand on a point a bit more or make an explanatory comment, but doesn't wish to interrupt the main text with this information. An end note is a good solution for this problem. Another frequent example is when a writer will put a portion of a quote in the body of the text, and will then include the complete quote in an end note. Simple publication and reference information may also be placed in the end notes of a document as well.

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