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How to use footnotes

Using footnotes properly is the art that one needs to learn. As you become more experienced as an essay writer, you may find yourself resorting to footnotes more and more often, but it's also important to know when enough is enough. What are the footnotes used for? In some citation styles, like Chicago, they indicate the source of the quotation. However, they have a couple of other usages, and we are going to talk about those now.

To provide additional information

It happens that you need to provide some additional information for reference, but including it in the main body of your paper will interrupt the logical flow of the paragraph or distract the reader. It can be extended information on your source (more than just bibliographical data) or the short description of the opinion opposite to what you are defending or describing in the paragraph. It can also simply be a translation of a Latin word you used or an explanation of a word that does not belong to the everyday vocabulary of the reader (like, foreign food names or other special words from other cultures, archaic words, etc). Remember, that the footnote should not be too long. If you need to provide a lot of additional information, you might want to consider appendices instead.

To indicate your attitude

Not usually used in short papers, but sometimes relevant for longer ones, are footnotes that contain your attitude to the information you have just mentioned in the main paragraph. When your main goal is not to reflect on your sources, but you want to show your evaluation of the information anyway, you could include a short comment in a footnote. And again, if your comment is too long, you should consider making it the part of the main text of the essay.

Footnotes can make your essay look classier and more sophisticated, and your thinking process appears deeper. However, don't overuse them only for this purpose unless you really need them. We hope that this short article can help you with essay writing.

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