Writing Well

Credit Given Here

As you weave in expert opinions, facts, examples, and statistics, provide enough information so your readers can easily trace every source. You've just learned two ways to do this: by citing the name of the source and by integrating the source with cue words. There's a third way to give credit as well: by adding the documentation in parenthesis, footnotes, or endnotes. It's the most important way of all because it provides complete information.

Word Watch

Parenthetical documentation, footnotes, and endnotes, are all ways of giving credit to sources you used in

As you learned in “Writing Across the Curriculum,” there are a number of formats you can choose from as you document your sources. These include methods developed by:

  • The Modern Language Association (MLA)
  • The American Psychological Association (APA)
  • The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)
  • The Council of Biology Editors (CBE)
  • The Columbia Guide to Online Style (COS)

Each discipline favors a specific documentation style. Research papers written in the business world, for example, usually follow the rules laid down in The Chicago Manual of Style, while the humanities favor the MLA style of documentation. Therefore, when you're writing business papers, you might have to use footnotes. When you're writing humanities papers, in contrast, you'll most likely use parenthetical documentation.

Always consult the documentation guide in your field when you prepare internal documentation, footnotes, endnotes, Works Cited pages, and Bibliographies. These guidebooks are all listed in Writing Across the Curriculum.

When you're writing in the humanities (English, history, foreign language, social studies, etc.) you most often use the MLA style of parenthetical or internal documentation. Let's check it out now.

MLA Internal Documentation

MLA favors parenthetical documentation over the traditional footnotes or endnotes. Parenthetical documentation offers an abbreviated, handy-dandy form of credit right in the body of the paper. For a complete citation, your readers can check the Works Cited page. This is a nifty system because it's easy for you and your readers to use.

Write Angles

Parenthetical or internal documentation places an abbreviated form of the source within the body of the research paper rather than in footnotes or endnotes. Therefore, parenthetical documentation takes the place of traditional footnotes or endnotes.

So how much bibliographic information must you include in the body of the paper when you use internal documentation? The first time you cite a source in your paper, include as much of the following information as necessary for your reader to figure out the source easily:

  • Title of the source
  • Writer's name
  • Writer's affiliation
  • Page numbers

The following passage shows the first time a source is cited. The author is important, so his name is included in the text of the paper. The parenthetical documentation is underlined.

Writer's Block

Quotations have to be copied exactly as they appear, so never correct an error in one. If a quotation does contain an error, include the error, but add [sic] after it to show that you know there's a mistake.

  • In addition, many patients on Prozac began to experience personality changes over time. A new study described at the annual meeting of the American Psychiatric Association suggests that Prozac alters aspects of personality as it relieves depression. Ron G. Goldman, a psychiatrist at Columbia University, believes that “Emotional and personality features are intertwined in depression so it's not really surprising that some types of personality change would accompany improvement in this condition” (Bower 359).

Now tell me, isn't internal documentation a sweet system? Easy to use, clear as can be. This isn't to say that footnotes and endnotes don't have their place, however, as you'll see in the next section.

CMS Footnotes and Endnotes

Word Watch

A footnote is a complete bibliographical citation indicated by a number in the text. Endnotes follow the same format but are listed on a page at the end of the paper. Today's nifty computer programs make them a snap to prepare.

Footnotes and endnotes are another form of documentation used in research papers. The folks over at The Chicago Manual of Style set the standard for those who favor footnotes. As always, check the requirements in your field before you hitch your wagon to a footnote style.

A footnote is a bibliographical reference indicated by a number in the text. The complete citation is then placed at the bottom (“foot”) of the same page. An endnote is identical in form to a footnote, but the complete citation is placed at the end of the paper on a separate page labeled “Endnotes.”

For example, here's a direct quotation credited with a footnote:

  • No one supposes that an actual bundle of papers prepared by a surveyor named Jonathan Pue ever existed. However, as Charles Boewe and Murray G. Murphey remarked in their article “Hester Prynne in History,” it is nevertheless “far from certain that no real historical basis exists for Hester.” 6

So that you can compare, here's how the same passage looks when credit is given through parenthetical documentation:

  • No one supposes that an actual bundle of papers prepared by a surveyor named Jonathan Pue ever existed. However, as Charles Boewe and Murray G. Murphey remarked in their article “Hester Prynne in History,” it is nevertheless “far from certain that no real historical basis exists for Hester” (203).

Here are the general guidelines for footnote/endnote use:

Write Angles

Use an ellipsis (three evenly spaced periods: …) to show that you've omitted part of a quotation. Don't use an ellipsis at the beginning of a sentence; just start with the material you wish to quote. If you omit more than one sentence, add a period before the ellipsis to show that the omission occurred at the end of a sentence.

  • Choose either endnotes or footnotes. You can't have both. Sorry.
  • Place each number at the end of the material you wish to credit.
  • Use superscript Arabic numerals. These are raised a little above the words.
  • Indent the first line of the footnote or endnote five spaces. All subsequent lines are placed flush left.
  • Single-space each footnote; double-space between entries. This is done automatically in most software programs.
  • Number footnotes or endnotes consecutively from the beginning to the end of your paper.
  • Use a new number for each citation even if several numbers refer to the same source.
  • Leave two spaces after the number at the end of a sentence. Don't leave any extra space before the number.

The basic CMS footnote/endnote citation for a book looks like the following. You would place this information at the bottom of the page for a footnote or at the end of the entire paper for an endnote.

Author! Author!

According to the U.S. copyright law, authors own their own words as soon as they are “fixed in any tangible medium of expression, now known or later developed, from which they can be perceived, reproduced, or otherwise communicated, either directly or with the aid of a machine or device.” Under the Fair Use section of the copyright law, copyrighted material can be used in other documents without infringement of the law “for the purposes of criticism, comment, news reporting, teaching (including multiple copies for classroom use), scholarship, or research.”

Footnote number. Author's First Name and Last name, Book Title (place of publication: publisher, date of publication), page number.

For example:

  • 6Seymour Miles, The Long and Winding Road (New York: Traveling Books, 1969), 231.

The basic footnote/endnote citation for a magazine, newspaper, or journal looks like this:

  • Footnote number. Author's First Name and Last Name, “Article Title,” Periodical Title, date, page number.

For example:

  • 3Wilma Wacca, “Underwater Fire Prevention Made Easy,” Modern Fire Fighter, 20 May 1999, 123.

The basic footnote/endnote citation for an electronic source looks like this:

  • 12Hamlet. In MIT Complete Works of Shakespeare. Available from http://mitshakespeare.edu; INTERNET.

Complete coverage of bibliographic formats appears in Appendix B, “Documentation Format.”

You can use footnotes or endnotes not only to acknowledge a source but also to add observations and comments that don't fit into the body of your text.

book cover

Excerpted from The Complete Idiot's Guide to Writing Well © 2000 by Laurie Rozakis, Ph.D.. All rights reserved including the right of reproduction in whole or in part in any form. Used by arrangement with Alpha Books, a member of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

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