Mla Research Paper Footnotes

If you choose to indent your paragraphs as recommended in the MLA Handbook, 6th ed. (132), begin a new paragraph by typing the first word 1/2" (1.25 cm or 5 spaces) from the left margin. The entire essay is typed double-spaced, except for Footnote citations at the foot of the page. Title of essay centered, 1” (2.5 cm) margin on all four sides, page number at upper right hand corner 1/2" (1.25 cm) down from the top.
If your instructor prefers that paragraphs not be indented, you must still double-space your lines, but you will need to quadruple-space between paragraphs. More empty space is created for the instructor to write comments when paragraphs are not indented.
Footnotes must be listed numerically and consecutively, both in your essay and in your Footnote citation. Footnote numbers must be superscripted. In your text, add a superscripted number immediately after the quote or reference cited with no space.
The Footnote citations must be added at the foot or bottom of the SAME page where you have cited the sources. All first Footnote references must be cited in full. Subsequent references of the same work may be shortened to include only the author's last name and page number. If the source cited has no author stated, use whatever minimal information is needed to identify the same work previously cited, e.g. short title and page number. Formerly, the Latin terms ibid. and op. cit. were used but they are no longer preferred.
It is recommended that you use Endnotes in place of Footnotes. This will eliminate the need to allow sufficient space to accommodate all the required Footnote entries at the bottom of the same page where your citations occur. If your instructor has no preference, use the much simpler Parenthetical Documentation in place of Footnotes or Endnotes.
For details on how to handle Footnotes that continue onto the next page, please see pages 269-270 in:
Gibaldi, Joseph. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 6th ed. New York: MLA, 2003.Note: A new edition of MLA Handbook is now available:

MLA Handbook
for Writers of Research Papers
7th Edition

Begin your Footnote citations four lines (quadruple space) below your text. Follow the spacing as shown in the example below, e.g. indent the first line 1/2" (1.25 cm), and add a space after the superscripted number. Do not indent second and subsequent lines of Footnotes. Single-space Footnotes within each citation as there is not much room at the bottom of the page. Double-space entries between citations, and be sure to list them in the same consecutive order as cited in the text of the essay.

Jones 1

Tracy Jones

Mr. K. Smith


26 May 2016

The Many Facets of Taboo

        The World Book Encyclopedia defines Taboo as "an action, object, person, or place forbidden by law or culture."1

        An encyclopedia of the occult points out that taboo is found among many other cultures including the ancient Egyptians, Jews and others.2

       Mary Douglas has analyzed the many facets and interpretations of taboos across various cultures. She points out that the word "taboo" originates from the Polynesian languages meaning a religious restriction.3She finds that "taboos flow from social boundaries and support the social structure."4

           Robert Deliège points out that as early as 1777, Captain James Cook reported that some chiefs in Tonga were taboo and were not allowed to behave like common people, and that the first European observers were not quite sure whether "taboo" meant "sacred" or "defiled."5

        In traditional British East Africa, between the time of puberty and marriage, a young Akamba girl must maintain an avoidance relationship with her own father.6

        Looking at taboo in a modern society, Marvin Harris gives an interesting example of the application of cultural materialism to the Hindu taboo against eating beef.7




         5 Robert Deliège, "Untouchability - Taboos - Bibliography,"?Science Encyclopedia, Web. 26 May 2012 <>.

         6 Sigmund Freud, Totem and Taboo (New York: Random, 1918) 17.

         7 Marvin Harris, "The Cultural Ecology of India’s Sacred Cattle," Current Anthropology 1992, 7:51-66, qtd. in Stacy McGrath, "Ecological Anthropology," Anthropological Theories: A Guide Prepared by Students for Students 19 Oct. 2001, U. of Alabama, Web. 26 May 2012 <>.

If your instructor considers your Footnote citations to be adequate documentation, you may not be required to complete a Works Cited, References or Bibliography page. Otherwise, a separate page must be added at the end of your paper entitled: Works Cited, References, or Bibliography to include all of the above Footnote citations. See sample below.

Works Cited

Deliège, Robert. "Untouchability - Taboos - Bibliography." Science Encyclopedia, 2012, Web. 26 May 2012 <>.

Douglas, Mary. "Taboo." Man, Myth & Magic. Ed. Richard Cavendish. New ed. 21 vols. New York: Cavendish, 1994. 2546-2549. Print.

Dundes, Alan. "Taboo." World Book Encyclopedia. 2000 ed. Print.

Freud, Sigmund. Totem and Taboo. New York: Random, 1918. Print.

McGrath, Stacy. "Ecological Anthropology." Anthropological Theories: A Guide Prepared by Students for Students. 19 Oct. 2001. U. of Alabama. Web. 26 May 2012


"Taboo." Occultopedia: Encyclopedia of Occult Sciences and Knowledge. Site created and designed by Marcus V. Gay. Web. 26 May 2012 <



Using Footnotes and Endnotes in MLA Format

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Endnotes and footnotes supply your readers with additional information. Some disciplines and advanced courses require the use of one or the other, and MLA format dictates the format for both types of notes. Superscript, consecutive numbers steer readers to documentation instead of the traditional in-text citations found in MLA.

While both types of notes refer readers to sources in your Works Cited page, the difference between footnotes and endnotes lies in where they appear.

  • Footnotes appear at the bottom of each individual page.
  • Endnotes appear in one location at the end of your paper, but before your Works Cited.

There are two types of footnotes and endnotes:

  • Explanatory notes
  • Bibliographic notes

Endnotes are the type of supplemental notes preferred under the MLA format, but your assignment instructions help you know which type of note (if any) to use.

Bibliographic vs. explanatory footnotes and endnotes in MLA format

The two types of footnotes and endnotes in MLA format include explanatory and bibliographic notes.

  • Bibliographic notes—These notes give your readers an additional source of information should they wish to pursue a topic. In other words, it gives them an additional source to consult. See the below examples of the footnote or endnote that would correspond to an in-text reference.
    1. See Ogletree, chapter three, for a more in-depth look at how dreams of this nature affect your conscious thoughts.
    2. For more research that found similar results, see Richter 29-39, Cook 128-131, Barnabile 49-57.
  • Explanatory notes—These footnotes and endnotes are also known as content notes. They attempt to explain something that might be too much of a digression in the text of your paper. See the below example:
    1. In her first interview, Siess spoke of a different viewpoint, but that was before most of her convictions were formed on the subject (124).

Numbering footnotes and endnotes in MLA format

To mark footnotes and endnotes in MLA format, superscript Arabic numbers are used. Any punctuation is placed before the superscript number with the exception of a long dash, which goes after the number. Never use an asterisk (*), brackets (< >) or any other type of symbol to note the use of footnotes or endnotes.

  • When Siess was a teenager,2 her views were more in align with her parents, but as she grew older, her thoughts slowly changed into what she believes today.
  • Many of these same researchers3—despite what their research revealed—still do not believe that it is the cause.

Formatting Footnotes and endnotes in MLA format

The numbers used as superscript references correspond to footnotes and endnotes in their respective location within your paper.

Footnotes—As of the 7th edition of the MLA Handbook, there are no specifications for setting up footnotes, which reiterates the MLA format’s preference for endnotes. However, the previous edition dictates the following formatting:

  • Place four single space, blank lines between the text of your paper and the list of footnotes
  • Use single spacing between each footnote
  • Indent the first line of each footnote five spaces
  • Keep subsequent lines in line with the left margin
  • Use a period and a single space after the number for each footnote
  • Follow with the footnote itself

Endnotes—Endnotes are placed on a separate page in MLA format. The setup requires that you follow a few guidelines:

  • Keep the title (“Notes” is multiple endnotes are used, “Note” if only one is used) centered on the page
  • Avoid extra formatting of the title
  • Number the notes to match the corresponding notes in the body of your paper
  • Double space each note
  • Indent the first line of each endnote five spaces
  • Keep subsequent lines in line with the left margin
  • Use a period and space following each endnote number
  • Follow with the endnote itself


  1. For further reading, see Miller, chapters 11, 12 and 14.
  2. To see how Siess felt during this time, her first book highlights her views and positions as they were formed during her teenage years. See Siess, chapters 20 and 21.

Whether you use footnotes and endnotes largely depends on each assignment and the preferences of your instructor. If you are unsure about using these types of notes, ask if they should be used in addition to the normal in-text citations used in MLA format.

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