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How to Do Footnotes in APA format

by Susan Sherwood, Demand Media
    Many readers find excessive footnotes distracting, so use them sparingly, if at all.

    Many readers find excessive footnotes distracting, so use them sparingly, if at all.

    The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association offers a writing guide for behavioral and social sciences. It contains style and formatting instructions, including footnoting. Two types of footnotes are acceptable in APA style: content and copyright footnotes. Their formats are not identical, but both are numbered consecutively using superscript Arabic numerals.

    Content Footnote

    Although it is not in the main text, a content footnote is relevant and important. It contains a single idea described in a short paragraph at the end of the page or on the footnotes page. If the material is longer, it is not appropriate for a footnote and should be incorporated into the text or listed in an appendix. Content footnotes are also used to provide further references on a specific topic.

    Copyright Footnote

    When including a quote that is more than 500 words long or a test, table or other material from another source, you need permission from the copyright holder to use the material. The copyright footnote indicates that you have the required authorization. In addition, a copy of the permission letter should be included at the end of the paper.

    In-Text Format

    To cite content and copyright footnotes within the text, insert a superscript number after the punctuation mark (e.g., comma, period) closest to the footnote. If it is a dash, the number should follow the word before the dash.

    Content: Page Bottom

    If you have a small number of content footnotes, put each at the bottom of the page where the citation appears. Begin with the superscript number and follow with the relevant material or reference information. However, if you need to use several footnotes, place them on a separate page after the references section, instead of at the page bottoms.

    Article Copyright: Page Bottom

    To indicate copyright permission at the bottom of a page for material from a journal article, the superscript number is followed by “From” and the title of the article and a comma in quotation marks. Next are the first initials and last name of the author and a comma. With multiple authors, commas separate all but the final name; “and” is used instead. Then comes the journal year, a comma, the italicized title of the journal, a comma, the volume number, a comma and page (abbreviated “p.” ), followed by the page number and a period. “Copyright” is followed by the copyright year, and “by” is followed by the name of the copyright holder and a period. Last comes “Reprinted with permission” or “Adapted with permission,” whichever is appropriate, and a period. A footnote might read: From "Cats and Dogs Are Friends," A. Smith, 2008, The Animal Journal, 77, p. 56. Copyright 2008 by The Animal Journal. Reprinted with permission.

    Book Copyright: Page Bottom

    For book copyright permission, the superscript number is first, followed by “From” and the italicized title of the book. Then comes “p.” and the page number in parentheses, a comma, the author’s initials and last name, a comma, the publication year, a comma, the publication location, a colon, the publisher and a period. “Copyright” is followed by the copyright year, and “by” is followed by the name of the copyright holder. Last comes “Reprinted with permission” or “Adapted with permission,” whichever is appropriate, and a period. For example: From Water Is Everywhere (p. 42), G. Jones, 2002, New York: Hydro Publications. Copyright 2002 by J. Hones. Reprinted with permission.

    Footnote Page Format

    If several footnotes are used, place footnotes on a separate page after the references section. “Footnotes” is at the top center of the page. The first line of each footnote is indented five spaces, and the superscript number precedes the information or reference. This material is formatted the same as if it were located at the bottom of a page. All footnotes are double-spaced.

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    About the Author

    Living in upstate New York, Susan Sherwood is a researcher who has been writing within educational settings for more than 10 years. She has co-authored papers for Horizons Research, Inc. and the Capital Region Science Education Partnership. Sherwood has a Ph.D. in curriculum and instruction from the University at Albany.

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