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How To Use Footnotes In An APA Research Paper: Basic Tips

The American Psychological Association (APA) has a particular way of using and formatting the footnotes. There are two kinds of footnotes that are acceptable in this format which are the content footnote and the copyright footnote. They are numbered consecutively with superscript Arabic numerals even though they are not formatted identically.

Using Content Footnotes

A content footnote is important and relevant to the paper even though it is not part of the actual text. It is an idea that is described in the footnote section. it should only be a short paragraph at the most and if it is longer than it should be included into the text of the paper or in the appendix.

Using Copyright Footnotes

When you have a quote that is over five hundred words, a table, or a test that comes from another source, you will have to get permission from the author to use it and include the permission letter in your paper.

You will cite these footnotes within the text by inserting a superscript number after the punctuation marks. If there are not very many for the entire paper, you can include them at the bottom of the page instead of at the end in a separate section. if you are putting the copyrighted one at the bottom of the page than you would put in parenthesis the title of the articles, the first initial and last name of the author, and the journal year with commas in between.

Goal of a Footnote

The best way to understand how to use a footnote in your paper is to understand the goal of one. When you know what purpose the footnote would serve in your piece, you will understand how to use it.

There are four main uses:

  1. They provide support for an argument or make a point for a discussion
  2. They may be used to give credit to another author’s piece or words
  3. They provide authority to the statement to show that it is a fact
  4. They give the reader other references that may be interesting to them.

The idea is to make sure that you are using them correctly. You want to use them to make your point more valid and to prove that what you are saying about a certain aspect is true. When your reader sees that the information came from a credible source, they will be more likely to believe it and that makes your argument stronger.

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