How To Do Endnotes In An Essay

MLA Endnotes and Footnotes


MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (8th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

Contributors: Tony Russell, Allen Brizee, Elizabeth Angeli, Russell Keck, Joshua M. Paiz, Michelle Campbell, Rodrigo Rodríguez-Fuentes, Daniel P. Kenzie, Susan Wegener, Maryam Ghafoor, Purdue OWL Staff
Last Edited: 2018-01-16 01:42:04

Because long explanatory notes can be distracting to readers, most academic style guidelines (including MLA and APA, the American Psychological Association) recommend limited use of endnotes/footnotes; however, certain publishers encourage or require note references in lieu of parenthetical references.

MLA discourages extensive use of explanatory or digressive notes. MLA style does, however, allow you to use endnotes or footnotes for bibliographic notes, which refer to other publications your readers may consult. The following are some examples:

     1. See Blackmur, especially chapters 3 and 4, for an insightful analysis of this trend.

     2. On the problems related to repressed memory recovery, see Wollens 120-35; for a contrasting view, see Pyle 43; Johnson, Hull, Snyder 21-35; Krieg 78-91.

     3. Several other studies point to this same conclusion. See Johnson and Hull 45-79, Kather 23-31, Krieg 50-57.

Or, you can also use endnotes/footnotes for occasional explanatory notes (also known as content notes), which refers to brief additional information that might be too digressive for the main text:

     4. In a 1998 interview, she reiterated this point even more strongly: "I am an artist, not a politician!" (Weller 124).

Numbering endnotes and footnotes in the document body

Endnotes and footnotes in MLA format are indicated in-text by superscript arabic numbers after the punctuation of the phrase or clause to which the note refers:

Some have argued that such an investigation would be fruitless.6

Scholars have argued for years that this claim has no basis,7 so we would do well to ignore it.

Note that when a long dash appears in the text, the footnote/endnote number appears before the dash:

For years, scholars have failed to address this point8—a fact that suggests their cowardice more than their carelessness.

Do not use asterisks (*), angle brackets (>), or other symbols for note references. The list of endnotes and footnotes (either of which, for papers submitted for publication, should be listed on a separate page, as indicated below) should correspond to the note references in the text.

Formatting endnotes and footnotes

Endnotes Page

MLA recommends that all notes be listed on a separate page entitled Notes (centered, no formatting). Use Note if there is only one note. The Notes page should appear before the Works Cited page. This is especially important for papers being submitted for publication.

The notes themselves should be listed by consecutive arabic numbers that correspond to the notation in the text. Notes are double-spaced. The first line of each endnote is indented five spaces; subsequent lines are flush with the left margin. Place a period and a space after each endnote number. Provide the appropriate note after the space.

Footnotes (below the text body)

The 8th edition of the MLA Handbook does not specify how to format footnotes. See the MLA Style Center for additional guidance on this topic and follow your instructor's or editor's preferences.

M. Hickey  Bloomsburg University

Department of History


In your papers (including take home exams), all quoted, paraphrased, or summarized material must be followed by a source citation.

I REQUIRE that you use endnotes for your source citations, using the form explained in the directions below.  Be sure to read the directions carefully!

FAQs regarding endnotes:

What are endnotes?   

How do I "make" the numbers? 

What goes in the endnote itself? 

What if I use the same source again?

What if I cite a document or an essay that is reprinted in a book (in a document collection of a "reader"? 

What if I am citing an article from a scholarly journal?   

What if I cite a webpage?

link to warning regarding plagiarism and guidelines on quoting, paraphrasing, and summarizing


What are endnotes????

An endnote is source citation that refers the readers to a specific place at the end of the paper where they can find out the source of the information or words quoted or mentioned in the paper.

When using endnotes, your quoted or paraphrased sentence or summarized material is followed by a superscript number.



Let's say that you have quoted a sentence from Lloyd Eastman's history of Chinese social life.  You have written this sentence:

According to Eastman, "The family was the central core of the Chinese social system."1

Analysis of the example:

Notice that there is a superscript number after the quotation.  You insert the number by using your word-processor's "insert reference" (or citation) function.

The superscript number corresponds to a note placed at the end of the paper (which is called an endnote).  Your word-processor will create a note number and a space at the end of your paper, where you then fill in the citation.  This endnote lets the reader know where you found your information.

Note numbers are sequential:  first note in your paper is numbered 1, the second note is 2 (even if you are quoting the same source as in #1), etc. 

AGAIN, even if you are repeating a reference to the same source, your numbers must continue in sequence (1, 2, 3, 4, 5).  You  must use "Arabic" numbers (1, 2, 3...), not Roman numerals (i, ii, iii...)!


How do I actually make the endnote numbers?

You don't have to type in the numbers yourself!  Your word processing software (MS Word, etc) will insert the note numbers and make space for the note automatically if you use the "Insert Citation" or Insert Reference" function.  (Each program has a slightly different name for this function. Ask me for help if you have trouble figuring this out.)



What do I put in the endnote (the part that appears at the end the paper) the first time I refer to a source?

The first time you have a citation to a particular source, the note at the end of the paper must include the following information in the following order:

Author’s first name then last name, Title of Book (City of publication: Publishing company’s name, Date of Publication), Page Number of quoted, paraphrased, or summarized material.


You have written this sentence:

According to Eastman, "The family was the central core of the Chinese social system."1

At the end of the paper (in the space set aside for this note by your word-processing software), you would put the following information in the following order:


Lloyd E. Eastman, Family, Field, and Ancestors: Constancy and Change in China's Social and Economic History, 1550-1949 (New York: Oxford University Press, 1988), 53.




What if I cite the same source again in my paper?

If you cite the same source again in you paper, use a short form for all subsequent citations to that source:

Author's last name, First Words of Book Title, page number.


Author's last name, page number.



You have already cited the Eastman, but then you cite it again in note #3:


Eastman, Family, Field, and Ancestors, 54.


3Eastman,  54.



What if I am citing a document or an essay that is reprinted in a book (such as a document readers for a Western Civilization course)?

I prefer that you cite documents or essays that are reprinted in collections this way:

Author of the original text, "Document or essay title," in Editor of Collection, ed., Title of book (Place of Pub:  Publisher, Year of Publication), page number.



St. Thomas Aquinas, "Summa Theologica," in James Brophy, et. al., Perspectives from the Past:  Primary Sources in Western Civilizations, vol. 1, From the Ancient Near East through the Age of Absolutism (New York:  Norton, 2002), 435.

Subsequent citations to this same source can use a short form.  So every time you cited any source in the Brophy book again, you would use a short form:

Example of short form:

Jean Bodin, "On Sovereignty," in Brophy, et. al, Perspectives from the Past, vol. 1, 631.



What if I am citing an article in a scholarly journal?

If you are citing an article from a scholarly journal, then the note needs to follow this format:

Author’s first name and last name, "Title of the Article," Title of the Journal, Magazine, or Newspaper Volume #, issue no. (date): pages.



Amy Smith, "Women Warriors of Indonesia," Journal of Asian History 31, no. 2 (1998): 55-93.

If you are citing a specific page of the article, then

Amy Smith, "Women Warriors of Indonesia," Journal of Asian History 31, no. 2 (1998): 59.

Any subsequent citation to the same source can use a short form:

Last name, "First Words of Title," page number.


Last name, page number.




Smith, "Women Warriors," 62



Smith, 62.



What if I am citing a web-based source?

I DO NOT want people to use using web-based sources in their papers unless they consult with me before hand.

When you do cite a web-based source, I would like you to list:

*the author, the title (etc), as you would in citing a print source.  (Sometimes a webpage does not have a clear title; present the clearest and most detailed title that you can for the particular page).

*the URL 

*in parenthesis note that date on which you read that webpage (this allows me to look at the webpage even if it has "disappeared" since you used it, by searching internet archives).


Martin Luther, "The Jews and Their Lies (1543)." (last accessed 22 July 2003).

Subsequent citations would use a short form.




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