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Endnotes Vs Footnotes: Know the Difference

User Lachlan Nguyen time05 December,2018

How old were you when you got to know that turtle and tortoise are two different animals? Although they have some common features which often cause confusion, there are a number of differences that put them in different branches of the animal kingdom. There’s another pair that you may encounter in your academic career that often looks the same, but isn’t. We are talking about endnotes and footnotes. In this blog we are going to provide you with an overview of endnotes vs footnotes.

Endnotes Vs Footnotes

Endnotes vs footnotes: The basics

Endnotes and footnotes – both are crucial when you are writing an academic paper. When you have a bit of extra information that is too long for the parentheses, you put that either in a footnote or in an endnote. However, the basic difference between footnotes and endnotes is that footnotes appear at the bottom of each page, while endnotes appear at the very end of the text (preferably at the end of the paper).

You might have already noticed that there are small numbers printed above certain words in a research paper or in your textbook. These numbers either match with the numbers listed at the bottom of that particular page, notably at the footnotes, or at the end of the book or a chapter, known as the endnotes.

Both the notes explain or expand upon the material in the text. However, they also contain bibliographic information, additional background material or references.

What is the purpose of a footnote or an endnote?

As mentioned, the purpose of a footnote or endnote is to provide the readers with more information in the document. Since it is not possible to fit all the significant data in the main body of the document, you can put the clarifying details about a certain term or information on the text of these notes. These notes save the readers from the trouble of looking elsewhere for further information.

The footnotes and endnotes can also be used to mention the source of particular information. Also, if there are any unfamiliar words or mention of an individual, more information on those elements can also be provided in these notes. Both footnotes and endnotes are generally used in academic writing, especially essays and research papers. However, one can use it in narrative writing (such as stories and poems) as well.

The difference between footnotes and endnotes

Endnotes and footnotes, as mentioned previously, have a lot in common. However, there are some discernible differences that separate them from one another. Here are the major differences between endnotes and footnotes.

  • The position:

You can find the footnotes at the bottom every page of the document. Endnotes, however, appear only at the end of a chapter or the end of the whole document.

  • Interruption:

Since footnotes appear in every page, it can interrupt the flow of reading. On the other hand, endnotes appear at the end of the text, which does not allow them to cause any sort of interruption to the reader.

  • Purpose:

The common purpose of footnotes and endnotes is to deliver additional information. However, footnotes offer extraneous information to the readers and refer to a certain part of the text. Endnotes, on the other hand, offer acknowledgement or reference to the text.

  • Use:

Besides the common purpose of delivering additional information, a lot of people use footnotes for detailed comments, while the endnotes are often used for citation of sources.

  • Content:

Footnotes usually feature abbreviated addition of an in-text excerpt. Endnotes generally feature the details of the reference quoted.

If you didn’t know the difference between footnotes and endnotes, this endnotes vs footnotescomparison must have given you a decent idea about these formatting elements.

Endnotes vs footnotes: Advantages and Disadvantages

Endnotes and footnotes, both come with own sets of advantages and disadvantages. If you are a student, learning about these pros and cons can help you use them to your advantage and produce an excellent in the class.

  • Footnotes:
Advantages Disadvantages
They are easy to find. Using too many footnotes can clutter the page, affecting its readability.
Provides necessary information almost instantly. Too much information in the footnote can distract the readers.
Footnotes are included automatically while printing specific pages. If the page contains multiple columns, charts or tables, short footnotes will be lost or moved to another location.


  • Endnotes:
Advantages Disadvantages
Do not cause a distraction to the readers as they are located in a separate part of the paper. Readers need to go to the end of the document to find it.
Readers can access all the notes at once. Endnotes can be confusing at times as they contain information about different chapters.
Since these are mentioned in a separate portion of the document, it cannot clutter the main body. Endnotes can carry a negative connotation or some hidden disclaimers in advertising.

The use of endnote and footnote often depend on the instructed formatting style. So, before you start working on the document, remember to study the formatting requirements. Also, it is advised to consult with your professor if you have any query regarding endnote vs footnote.

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