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How to Do Footnotes and Endnotes in APA Style

by | Jan 13, 2021 | Academic Writing

Information is taken from the 7th edition Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, latest version, 2020.

The current APA style guide discourages the use of footnotes in APA essays—and omits endnotes altogether—so it’s a good idea to resort to footnotes only when it’s absolutely necessary for explaining or citing a piece of information in your paper. In other words, if you can put the footnoted information in the paper’s text instead, that is always the better option.

However, there will be times when a footnote or two becomes necessary to maintain the integrity of your paper, so let’s take a look at what to do in that situation. There are two footnote types in APA: content footnotes and copyright attribution footnotes.

APA Style Content Footnotes

Content footnotes do precisely what they sound like they do—provide a little extra content to strengthen the argument of what lies within the actual text. They can pull your reader’s attention away from the essay, though, so don’t rely too much on them. Content footnotes in APA shouldn’t contain more than a couple of sentences of absolutely crucial information. If their contents aren’t entirely necessary to the core of the essay, don’t include them.

Though footnotes are allowed in all essay types in APA format, try not to depend on them multiple times in one essay, especially with content footnotes. Even if the information is important, several footnotes in one essay become a distraction.

APA Style Copyright Attribution Footnotes

Copyright attribution footnotes are necessary for lengthy quotes and test or scale items that appear in your APA style essay; therefore, having more than one isn’t as big a deal as having multiple content footnotes.

Note that if you use a table or figure in your paper, the copyright attribution goes into the table or figure note, not in a separate footnote.

The copyright attribution should contain all of the following elements:

  • “From” if your material was reprinted, and “Adapted from” if your material was adapted
  • Source title, author, year of publication, and source of the material
  • Either the source copyright year and the name of the copyright holder, a statement that tells the reader that the material is licensed in the Creative Commons, or a statement that tells the reader that the content is in the public domain
  • Permission statement from the copyright holder if permission was asked for and received

APA Style Footnote Format

Like MLA and Chicago, APA footnotes use superscript Arabic numerals, which are available in all commonly used word processing apps. The footnote numbers should be in numerical order throughout your essay if you have more than one. The superscript number will appear immediately after all forms of punctuation except a dash, which requires the superscript number to come before.


Like we talked about above, footnotes aren’t super common in APA papers, but it’s still possible that you may need to use them at some point. Be aware of their aesthetic effects on your essay as a whole, and remember not to use too many content footnotes when they aren’t absolutely necessary! But when you have to use a footnote or two in your APA essay, you’ll know exactly how to format it correctly!

Emmi Conner
By Emmi Conner

Emmi holds a BFA in creative writing from the University of North Carolina at Wilmington. She’s been published in Adelaide Literary Magazine, and Atlantis Magazine. Emmi has written multiple articles for Writer’s Hive in the academic section with topics about MLA, APA, and Chicago Style essay writing.


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