Giving Credit to Sources:

This page explains the proper use of footnotes for use in your research papers. More detailed information can be found at the Nuts and Bolts Guide page (

General rules concerning the use of footnotes

Traditionally, scholars in fields such as History, Religion and Art have relied on footnotes (or endnotes) as their primary means of citing sources. In this modern age of word processing, footnotes have become very easy to employ and manipulate. All modern word processing software has built-in footnoting features which are fast and easy to use. A footnote (or endnote) conveys both bibliographic data and details the exact location of the information you are citing. Footnotes, signalled in the text by superscripted Arabic numeral, are located at the bottom of the page where the cited information is mentioned. Endnotes, another variety of citation, are written and signalled the same way as footnotes, but are located at the end of the paper. In addition to footnotes, you may be asked to provide a bibliography or list of works cited for your work.

A footnote or endnote has four main divisions: the author's name (in normal, not reverse, order), followed by a comma; the title; the publication data in parentheses; and a page reference. There is a period only at the end. When you take notes during your research, make a note of all of the relevant information on your sources. That way, you will have all of the data you need to write footnotes or endnotes and a bibliography. The following examples show the proper format for footnotes. The same format is employed if you want to use endnotes. Footnotes should be single spaced, but you should double space between one footnote and the next. The first line of a footnote is indented five spaces, but subsequent lines of the same entries are not indented. If you are using a word processor, italicize the title of a work; otherwise, underline it. For subsequent citations to a source you have already footnoted, simply note the author's last name, a shortened form of the title, and the page reference. For more information on the formatting of your notes, please see the Nuts and Bolts guide.


  1. Books

  2. Newspapers, Magazines and Scholarly Journals

  3. Some Electronic Sources

  4. Reference Books

  5. Scriptural Citations

  6. Miscellaneous

1. Books

A Work with One Author

     1August Heckscher, A Brief History of St. Paul's School, 1856-1996
 (Concord, NH: The Board of Trustees of St. Paul's School, 1996) 21-22.

     2Heckscher, Brief History 33.

A Work with Two or Three Authors

     1John P. McKay, Bennett D. Hill, and John Buckler, A History 
of Western Society, 4th ed. (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1991) 226-244.

A Work with Four or More Authors

     1R. Jackson Wilson, et al., The Pursuit of Liberty (New York: Alfred A.
 Knopf, 1983) 100.

A Work with a Corporate Author

     1St. Paul's School, St. Paul's School: Annual Support and The Record 1995-1996
 (Concord, NH: St. Paul's School, 1996) 45-46.

A Work with No Named Author

     1Chapel Services and Prayers, 5th ed. (Concord, NH: St. Paul's School, 1988)

A Work with More than One Volume

     1Arnold, Denis, ed, The New Oxford Companion to Music, 2 vols. 
(New York: Oxford University Press, 1983) 99-100.

A Work with an Editor

     1Mark Twain, Adventures of Huckleberry Finn: An Authoritative Text, 
Backgrounds and Sources, Criticism, 2nd ed, ed. Bradley Sculley, Richard Croom Beatty,
E. Hudson Long, and Thomas Cooley  (New York: Norton, 1977) 44.

A Second or Later Edition

     1Neil A. Campbell, Biology, 3rd ed. (New York: The Benjamin/Cummings Publishing
    Company, Inc. 1993) 521.

A Reprint

        1Jessie L. Weston, From Ritual to Romance, 1920 (Garden City, NJ: Anchor-
     Doubleday, 1957) 22.

2. Newspapers, Magazines, and Scholarly Journals

For help determining whether your periodical source is scholarly or non-scholarly, consult, OWL's page on evaluating sources ( , or ask your teacher or a librarian.

A Scholarly Journal or Magazine with Page Numbers that Continue in Each Issue
     1Oz Frankel, "Whatever Happened to 'Red Emma'? Emma Goldman from Alien
Rebel to American Icon" The Journal of American History 83:3 (1996): 941.

A Scholarly Journal with Page Numbers that Start Over in Each Issue

     1James H. Billigton, "Libraries, the Library of Congress and the Information
Age," Daedalus  Fall (1996): 53.

A Weekly, Bi-Weekly, or Monthly Magazine

     1Bill Milkowsi, "Tribute to a Brother: The Guitar Legacy of Duane Allman,"
Musician Sept. 1996: 22.

A Newspaper Article

     1Trey Spencer, "Forging New Ground in Film," The Pelican 21 Nov. 1996: 14.
     2Caryn James, "An 'Emma' Both Darker And Funnier,"  The New York Times 15 
Feb. 1997: 21.

An Anonymously Authored Article

     1"Winners and Losers," Time 17 Feb. 1997: 19.

3. Some Electronic Sources

Electronic media such as e-mail, the Internet and computer databases are relatively new sources of information, and scholars in various disciplines are still trying to sort out how to cite electronic sources in their fields. Following are some guidelines for citing electronic sources. For cases not covered here, or for more background, check the MLA Handbook 251-255. In addition,you may want to visit Citing Electronic Sources [off campus link] at Purdue University's Online Writing Lab. Note that you should always include the date on which you accessed the information, even if it is different from the date of publication.


A Radio Or Television Program

     1Emma, Arts and Entertainment Network, 16 Feb. 1997.


     1Ethan Lewis [] "A Question...," private e-mail message
to Rob Reid [], 28 Feb. 1997.
     2Colin J. Callahan, "News of Announcement," 5 Feb. 1997, posting to
Paulies Message 3492 [].

Material Accessed through a Computer Service

     1Guidelines for Family Television Viewing (Urbana: ERIC Clearinghouse on 
Elementary and Early Childhood Educ., 1990), ERIC, online, BRS, 22 Nov. 1993.

     1Library of Congress,"Selected Civil War Photographs Home Page" 
[] 28 Feb. 1997.
     2Plato, Gorgias, Trans. Benjamin Jowett, [
/Plato/gorgias.html/] 24 Jan. 1994.

4. Reference Books

When you cite a familiar reference book (such as a popular dictionary, thesaurus or encyclopedia) do not give full publication information. Instead, list only the edition (if stated) and the year of publication. When citing less familiar reference books, give full publication information. For more information see MLA Handbook 120-121.

An Article from a Reference Book-Author Unknown
    1"Beethoven,"  The New Encyclopaedia Britannica: Macropaedia, 15th ed. 1992. 
     2"Lacrosse," Merriam-Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, 10th ed. 1993.
     3"John Montgomery Ward," Total Baseball, ed. John Thorn and Pete Palmer,
 (New York: Harper Perennial, 1993) 1312-1313.

An Article from a Reference Book-Author Known

     1Selma Buxley Barkham,"Basque Exploration and Discovery," Christopher Columbus
Encyclopedia, ed. Silvio A. Bedini, 2 vols.(New York: Simon and Schuster, 1992) 33-39.

A Reference Book with More than One Volume

     1Leonard Unger, ed. American Writers, 4 vols. (New York: Charles Scribner's
Sons, 1983) 101.

5. Scriptural Citations

For more information on this topic, consult MLA Handbook 222-224. For information on accepted abbreviations of Biblical books, consult MLA Handbook 222-223 or The New Oxford Annotated Bible xxvii-xxviii. Note that citations of Biblical sources should include the book number in roman type followed by abbreviated chapter name and verse number, with a colon or period between chapter and verse. You may also abbreviate the version of the Bible you are citing. For inclusion in your bibliography, provide the same information as you would for any other book.

A Footnote from the Old Testament
     1Deut. 5:19. NRSV
A Footnote from the New Testament
     12 Cor.9.6 NRSV

A Footnote from the Apocrypha

     1Tob. 14:5 NRSV

6. Miscellaneous

A Government Publication
     1United States Dept. of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, Statistical 
Abstract of the United States, 115th ed.(Lanham, MD: Bernan Press, 1995) 473.

The U.S. Constitution

     5United States Constitution, Preamble.
     9United States Constitution, Article 1, Section 8.

An Interview That You Conducted or Class notes.

     1Heather Crutchfield, personal interview, 1 Mar. 1997.

     2Ethan Lewis, class notes 3 January 2005. 

An Advertisement

     1Acura, advertisement, Rolling Stone 16 May 1996: 8-9.
     2IBM, advertisement, CNN 4 May 1996. 

Prepared for the Web by Ethan Lewis. Thanks to the Ohrstrom Library at St. Paul's School in Concord, NH for permission to use this page.