College of Arts and Sciences

When to Use Footnotes or Endnotes

Historical writing should be fully documented. Notes enable the reader to verify the information contained in research papers. Notes are provided in the following instances.

  • Direct Quotations. The source of all direct quotations must be provided.
  • Controversial Facts and Opinions. Commonly accepted facts need not be documented, but facts and opinions which diverge from what is commonly accepted should be documented. This is quite often a difficult judgment call.
  • Sources of Information of Major Ideas/Themes/Points Developed in your Paper. The source(s) of information for all major ideas/themes/points must be provided, whereas minor points need not be documented. This, too, is often a difficult call.
  • Additional Information. Quite often you may collect information which is interesting and relevant but which, for a variety of reasons, is not appropriate in the body of your paper. This information can be provided in an explanatory footnote.