In academic writing, regardless of the difficulty level of your topic, you will eventually sort it out and get around to writing it. What proves more difficult and can lower your score, is the fact that it is not referenced properly. One of the main pitfalls in academic writing is that students do not place their footnotes and endnotes correctly.

Footnotes and endnotes are used when there is a piece of information that is so important that it cannot be left out but is too big to be placed in parentheses in the main text. They preserve the rhythm of the reading process as too many breaks in a text can disturb the flow of reading.

Similarities and Differences

Generally speaking, both footnotes and endnotes support the text by explaining or elaborating upon the content, and providing bibliographical information, citations, copyright permissions or some extra details about the topic.


Footnotes appear at the bottom of that page as a cross-reference of a symbol or numerical superscript that follows a word or sentence in the main text. They are used to present additional details for that part of the text.

Footnotes are typically printed in a very small font size, and often in italics. They are mainly found in research articles, documents, journals, etc. and supplement the main text above.

The main benefit of using footnotes is that they are shorter and easier to locate because they are at the bottom of the same page that you are reading.

However, footnotes are advisable only when the extra information to be provided is less. You cannot use them to include long details, as you may end up cluttering the page. The other disadvantage is that a page with footnotes requires frequent resizing and formatting before going into print.


Endnotes are found at the end of a document or book or a section of a book, such as a chapter.  They are used to cite references or sources for that piece of text, and appear as numbers or symbols such as an asterisk (*).

Endnotes normally use a standard font size, but are also printed in a size smaller than the one used in the main text.

One advantage of using endnotes is a page looks better without all the clutter below it. They are also easier to print as individual pages do not need to be formatted repeatedly. Further, you can include relatively more information in endnotes than in footnotes.

However, the disadvantage is that a reader has to keep turning the pages back and forth to read the extra information, because endnotes appear at the end of a book or section. This disturbs the reading process.


Used wisely, both footnotes and endnotes lend a polished look to a written work.