Writing an academic report or a research paper requires the author to pay careful attention to footnote formatting requirements. Some industries and institutions have their own specific formatting and may either provide their own style guide or follow a more standard one. The standard footnote formatting styles include those of the American Psychological Association (APA) and the Modern Language Association (MLA). APA style footnotes focus on the exact research source and its date, and are used for psychological and scientific papers, articles, and journals. Documents in language and literature disciplines tend to stress MLA style, which focuses more on the author than details on the source.
In contrast to endnotes that go at the end of a document, footnotes are placed at the bottom of the page where a reference appears. Footnotes are used to cite quotes from books or articles, sources of statistics, and concepts derived from the ideas of another author’s argument. Information that is used to describe and define concepts in detail can also be cited with its appropriate source. How this information is structured depends on the footnote formatting used.
Footnote formatting for technical and scientific information follow APA guidelines. The research source is emphasized because similar articles published by the same author may reflect out of date information. Details that are crucial to the ideas expressed in the paper can be referenced using citations within the text. The references can otherwise be highlighted by a superscripted number or asterisk that corresponds to the specific footnote.
In APA-style footnotes, the last and first name of the author appear at the beginning, followed by the article title or website in italics. It is optional to add the date, in brackets or parentheses, on which the information was retrieved. The website address, if appropriate, must be placed at the end of the footnote.
Another major style of footnote formatting is MLA. This format focuses on the author, but if the author’s name is not known, the website can be mentioned in italics first. The author’s name goes first in other cases, followed by the date the information was found in month, day, and year format. Information on the source title or website address follows this information. This kind of footnote formatting, like other aspects of MLA, is designed to provide concise and brief citations in the text, and is tailored to the needs of scholastic disciplines.