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Endnotes vs Footnotes: How to Tell Them Apart?

Endnotes vs footnotes can be compared to tortoise vs turtle. How much time did it take you to learn that these two animals are actually different? Probably it will take you as much time as back then to learn the difference between endnotes and footnotes in academic writing. Although these two styles of organizing your sources may bear some similarities, they are actually different. It can be one of the causes of confusion for the majority of students, so it is essential to learn about the differences between footnotes and endnotes in academic writing. Read on to find out the main features of them.

The Basics Beyond Endnotes and Footnotes

Both endnotes and footnotes are important when you need to organize your academic paper and properly cite all of the consulted sources. If the information you would like to refer to is too voluminous to be written in brackets, this is the perfect point when footnotes or endnotes may prove to be handy. The core difference between them is that the footnote is provided at the bottom of each page, whereas the endnote is the information written at the very end of the paper.

Footnotes and endnotes are used in in-text citations – you must have definitely noticed small numbers written next to some sentences in the text. Normally, when you look down the page or when you finish reading the whole paper, you may come across sentences defining what those numbers refer to. In other words, their core function is to broaden the information they relate to; for example, they may define something or explain.

Footnote Definition

When it comes to the footnote definition, a footnote provides additional information about some idea or concept and it is mainly placed at the bottom of a page. If you wonder about the relevance of providing footnotes or endnotes, keep in mind that they are predominantly used in Chicago style, OSCOLA style, ACS, as well as Turabian style. So, if you need some detailed and in-depth information about them, please feel free to check it in the guidelines to the aforementioned formatting and citation styles.


Actually, it can be inferred from the very name that a footnote appears at the bottom (i.e. at the foot) of the page. When you look at what the footnote provides, you will mainly come across citations, additional details, examples, or definitions, as well as whole references. You may come across footnotes in books, articles, journals, newspapers, and other written media.

Advantages of Using Footnotes

  • you can find the necessary extra information or definition really fast as the information is available to the reader at the bottom of the page;
  • the location is easier and more convenient;
  • if you need to print out the document, footnotes will be automatically printed.

Disadvantages of Using Footnotes

  • if you have a lot of footnotes, they will make the page look messy;
  • too much information provided in the footnotes can distract readers from the main idea or message in the main part of the text;
  • in case a paper contains tables, figures, diagrams, charts or any other visuals, the footnotes may be automatically moved to another page.

Endnote Definition

When it comes to the endnote definition, endnotes refer to supplementary material placed at the end of the main body of a specific paper be it a research paper, an essay or something else. Endnotes are more characteristic of such citation styles as ABNT, AMA, AAA, IEEE, Vancouver, and NLM. So, if you need to submit a paper in one of these styles, be sure that you will need to use endnotes.

It can also be easily inferred from its very name that the endnote is a note placed at the end of the paper with some additional or supplementary information about some issues, concepts, terms, etc.

The main goal or task of using endnotes is to cite all the authors and sources used in the body of the paper and arrange those authors in a specific order as they appear throughout the main body.

Advantages of Endnotes

  • they are not distractive in the process of reading the paper as they appear not at the bottom of the pages but at the end of the whole paper;
  • it becomes possible to check all the notes at once;
  • the notes do not mess with the main text as they are provided in a separate section.

Disadvantages of Endnotes

  • one needs to turn to the last page of the paper in order to find the relevant information marked with a number within the text;
  • they may add up more confusion to readers as all additional information is crammed in one place;
  • some information may be overlooked or left unnoticed.

The Difference between Endnotes and Footnotes

Even though endnotes and footnotes have a lot in common, it is essential to understand the difference between endnotes and footnotes in order to guarantee proper organization and citation of your academic work. Some of the core differences are the following:

  1. Position in text. Footnotes are placed at the bottom of each page, whereas endnotes are provided at the end of the document.
  2. Interruption. Footnotes may cause the interruption of the text and its idea as it appears on each page and probably distracts readers from the core message.
  3. Purpose. The main purpose of both endnotes and footnotes is to provide additional information, explanation, or definition. Still, footnotes are more used to provide additional information on a specific part of the text. On the contrary, endnotes provide a reference to the whole text.
  4. Usage. Apart from providing supplementary information, footnotes are used to provide some specific comments or details within the context. Endnotes, though, are used for citing sources.
  5. Content. Endnotes provide details of the quoted reference whereas footnotes refer to some specific parts within the text.

If you have not known about all these differences before, now it is high time you got to know them. With the aforementioned information provided, you will hopefully be no longer confused about the usage of footnotes and endnotes. So, study the formatting guideline carefully and format your paper. If you have some doubts concerning the correct formatting or citation, do not hesitate to refer to for professional assistance.

April 24, 2020