When should footnotes be used?
The APA suggests two instances in which footnotes may be used:
- Content Footnotes: to offer further information on a topic that is not directly related to the text. As content footnotes should be concise, avoid writing lengthy paragraphs or including extraneous information.
- Copyright Permission Footnotes: to cite adapted or reprinted materials in the paper, especially data sets, tables, and quotations that exceed 400 words. Consult the APA Publication Manual (6th ed.) for more information about copyright permissions.
It is recommended to refrain from extensive usage of footnotes as this practice may distract or confuse readers. When applicable, incorporate additional information in the main text of the paper, but avoid inserting irrelevant material. Footnotes should briefly present the reader with meaningful information that enhances your argument.
How should footnotes be formatted?
Footnotes may be displayed in one of two ways:
- Listed at the bottom of the relevant page
- Assembled altogether on a new page, following the References page(s)
If the footnotes are compiled on a separate page, the title “Footnotes” should be centered at the top of the page. Avoid formatting the title with bold, italics, underlining, or quotation marks. Indent the first line of each footnote five spaces from the left margin, and double-space the entire page. Each footnote number should be formatted as a superscript, and should be situated after all punctuation marks excluding a long dash (—).
Let’s look at some examples of using footnotes in a sentence:
- Example 1 – Content Footnote: “Under the DSHEA, dietary supplements no longer receive approval from the FDA before being marketed unless the supplement contains a new dietary ingredient (DSHEA, 1994).1 ”
1A new dietary ingredient is defined as dietary ingredients that were not marketed in the United States in a dietary supplement prior to October 15, 1994.
- Example 2 – Content Footnote: “The questionnaire (see Supplementary material3) was comprised of 4 parts: student perception regarding content of nutrition education; duration of time spent on nutrition education; preferred education approach to nutrition; and demographics.”
3Supplementary data are available on the journal Web site (https://apnm.nrc.ca) or may be purchased from the Depository of Unpublished Data, Document Delivery, CISTI, National Research Council Canada, Building M-55, 1200 Montreal Road, Ottawa, ON K1A 0R6, Canada. DUD 5396. For more information on obtaining material refer to https://cisti-icist.nrc-cnrc.gc.ca/eng/ibp/cisti/collection/unpublished-data.html.
- Example 3 – Copyright Permission Footnote: “Trust in authority was measured using four items drawn from models of motive-based trust (Tyler & Huo, 2002).2”
2From the chapters “Motive-Based Trust and Decision Acceptance” and “Societal Orientations: Legitimacy and Connections With Society” in Trust in the Law: Encouraging Public Cooperation With the Police and Courts, by Tom R. Tyler and Yuen J. Huo, 2002, New York: Russell Sage Foundation. Copyright 2002 by the Russell Sage Foundation, 112 East 64th Street, New York, NY 10021. Reprinted with permission.
Compiling footnotes at the end of your paper
Below is an example of how you might format your footnotes if you compile them on a separate page at the end of your paper.
For more information about referencing sources in APA:
 Dodge, T., & Kaufman, A. (2007). What makes consumers think dietary supplements are safe and effective? The role of disclaimers and FDA approval. Health Psychology, 26(4), 513-517. doi:10.1037/0278-6220.127.116.113
 Gramlich, L. M., Olstad, D., Nasser, R., Goonewardene, L., Raman, M., Innis, S., & ... Roy, C. (2010). Medical students’ perceptions of nutrition education in Canadian universities. Applied Physiology, Nutrition & Metabolism, 35(3), 336-343. doi:10.1139/H10-016
 De Cremer, D., & Tyler, T. R. (2007). The effects of trust in authority and procedural fairness on cooperation. Journal of Applied Psychology, 92(3), 639-649. doi:10.1037/0021-9010.92.3.639
Using Content Notes in APA Style
Author/Creation: Academic Center. Revised: Amy Hatmaker, July 2009.
Summary: Defines content notes and explains when to use them and how to format them in APA documentation style.
Learning Objectives: To define content notes. To format footnotes correctly. To identify reasons to use content notes.
Using content notes is a good way to add depth to your paper, to provide your reader with interesting additional material, and to impress your audience with the breadth and depth of your knowledge. In this handout, we’ll define content notes, discuss how to format them, and suggest some uses for them.
What are Content Notes?
APA style makes use of parenthetical references to document certain kinds of information (author and date). This system works well to allow you to direct your readers to the sources from which you derived your paper.
But you can add another, very impressive dimension to your paper by using content notes to give your reader additional information about your topic that might be interesting and important but that might disrupt the flow of information if you include it in the body of your paper--in APA style these notes are called footnotes but are grouped together on a page after the main text of your paper.
Use footnotes in APA style to provide material that supplements or explains the primary content of your paper or to provide additional bibliographical information.
Footnotes should only be used when the information adds substantially to the discussion, and they should be concise. Each footnote should convey only one idea.
In the text of the paper, insert a superscript Arabic numeral at the point in the text where the material appears. The numeral can be placed following any punctuation, except for a long dash. If the note pertains only to material enclosed in parentheses, the numerical reference should be placed within the parentheses as well.
Although many work processor programs have a footnote/endnote feature, this feature should not be used in an APA paper. Instead type the numeral and change it to superscript using the font feature.
This kind of authoritarian dominion over wives had psychological as well as legal implications according to Thompson (1973).
He contends that the pervasiveness of such attitudes required reciprocal attitudes of subordination or deference in the
relationship. These attitudes were embodied in wife and child.1 Psychological characteristics. . .
The notes themselves are collected on a separate page that follows the main body of the text and the references page. Items in the footnotes page should be double-spaced, and the notes are presented in the numerical order in which they appeared in the text of the paper. Each entry should be marked with a superscript numeral and should be indented 5-7 spaces (as you would a paragraph indention). The page numbering of the paper continues, as do other features of the APA-style text (e.g., margins should be one inch on each border).
Gender Hierarchies 8
1 For a different point of view, see Ross, E. (1983). “Survival Networks: Women’s
Neighborhood Sharing in London before World War I,” History Workshop Journal, 15, 3.
Ross contends that working class women never learned the habit of deference from their
middle class counterparts.
2 The working class neighborhood in Edwardian London was a hostage to its own
notions of respectability. . .
Uses for Supplementary Notes
The list below shows examples of some of the common uses for such notes.
Give Contrasting Information:
2 On the other hand, Smythone (1987) notes a different result altogether in his work, contending that the overall
outcome of Rommel’s appeal was negative because external factors like the progress of the war intervened.
Evaluate a Source:
4 While Berker’s (1996) summary implies that Kohlberg’s theory of moral development is universal and ungendered, he
obviously fails to understand or account for the impact of Kohlberg’s failure to include a representative sample of females in his
7 For the purposes of this paper, post-structuralism is defined as the movement that seeks to discern the relationship
between language, representation, and reality by examining the creation of and forces within certain linguistic systems.
Note: All sources given in your content notes will appear on your References page along with the material cited parenthetically in text.
American Psychological Association. (2001). Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (5th ed). Washington, DC: