MLA Endnotes and Footnote

The MLA, APA, and other associations’ guidelines recommend using footnotes and endnotes as sparingly as possible. Long notes distract readers. But if your instructor or publisher requires links to notes instead of parenthesized links, do so.

The MLA doesn’t prohibit the use of endnotes or footnotes for bibliographic notes that relate to other publications. In essays and term papers, you can format footnotes as in the examples:

  1. See Shaw, especially pages 185 and 186 for an in-depth understanding of diaphragmatic breathing.
  2. For more on diaphragmatic breathing, see Shaw, I.; Shaw, B.S. 45-61; for the opposite view see
  3. Several other studies point to this same finding. See Fischer J 346-35, Katchmarschik, V 93-99, Katschmartschik, W 220-30.

Use footnotes and endnotes for incidental explanatory notes (also called content notes). This is additional information that can distract the reader from the main text. For instance:

Markham later reiterated the idea that experience and professionalism are less important in naval intelligence than “innate ability” (Huntford, Shackleton 38).

Numbering endnotes and footnotes in the body of a document

Footnotes and endnotes in MLA format are marked in the text with superscript Arabic numerals after the punctuation of the phrase or sentence to which the note refers.

However, in the fall of 1898, Archibald himself died of typhoid fever, which meant that all financial responsibility fell on the shoulders of a young officer, Robert Scott[17].

As some researchers note[7], “Scott was not in good health, was lazy and sloppy, in games with his friends he never missed an opportunity to arrange a funny trick,” but he was “polite, friendly and had an easy character”[9].

If the text contains an em dash, it is preceded by a footnote or endnote number:

The family had strong military and naval traditions[6] – Robert’s grandfather was the ship’s treasurer, who retired in 1826.

You do not need to use asterisks (*), angle brackets (>), or other symbols to reference notes. The list of notes and footnotes must match the references to notes in the text.

How to format footnotes and endnotes

Endnotes page

MLA recommends setting aside a separate page for notes called “Notes”. The title should be centered.

The endnotes page should be placed before the “Cited works” page. First of all, this concerns the articles that you send to print.

Separate notes with double space. When listing, use Arabic numerals that correspond to the designations in the text.

The first line of the endnote must be 5 spaces from the left, and all subsequent lines must be flush with the left margin. After each footnote number, add a period and a space, then add a note.

Footnotes below text

The 8th Edition MLA Handbook says nothing about footnote formatting. For more information on this topic, contact your teacher or the MLA Style Center.