Footnotes are a useful way to provide additional information or citations in a document without interrupting the flow of the main text. Adding footnotes in Google Docs is easy and can help you create more professional and academic documents.
When to Use Footnotes
There are several situations where adding footnotes can be helpful:
- Providing source citations and references
- Explaining a complex idea or term
- Acknowledging contributions or permissions
- Adding commentary or ancillary information
Footnotes allow you to expand on information while keeping your main text focused. They are commonly used in research papers, academic essays, articles, books, and professional documents.
How to Insert a Footnote in Google Docs
Inserting a footnote in Google Docs is simple. Here are the steps:
- Place your cursor where you want the footnote reference to appear (usually at the end of a sentence or clause).
- Click “Insert” > “Footnote.” A superscripted number and a corresponding footnote will be inserted.
- Type your footnote text into the footnote section at the bottom of the page.
Alternatively, you can use the keyboard shortcut on Windows or Mac:
- Windows: Ctrl + Alt + F
- Mac: ⌘ + ⌥ + F
This will insert a footnote and place your cursor in the footnote section automatically.
You can customize the formatting of footnotes to fit your document style:
Change Footnote Location
By default, footnotes appear at the bottom of the page, but you can change this in the Document Settings:
- Click File > Document settings.
- Under Footnotes, choose:
- Bottom of page
- End of document: Footnotes will appear on a separate page after the text
- Below text: Footnotes will appear at the end of each text section
Modify Footnote Style
To edit the footnote style, right-click on an existing footnote and select Edit footnote:
- Change font, size, color
- Add bold, italics, or underlining
- Indent paragraphs or add spacing between footnotes
This will update the style for all footnotes. You can have a different footnote style than body text.
Tips for Using Footnotes Effectively
Follow these best practices when working with footnotes:
- Be concise – Footnotes supplement the main text and should remain short and focused.
- Provide context – Explain terms or ideas that may be unfamiliar to readers.
- Cite quality sources – Reference reputable sources to back up key points.
- Use consistent citation style – Stick to one formal citation style like MLA, APA, or Chicago.
- Add links – Hyperlink sources to give readers access to reference material.
- Place at natural breaks – Insert footnotes at the end of a sentence or paragraph.
- Number footnotes – If creating multiple footnotes, they will be numbered automatically.
Here are some additional pointers for mastering footnotes in Google Docs:
- Repeat a footnote by using ctrl + alt + R (Windows) or ⌘ + ⌥ + R (Mac)
- Convert between footnotes and endnotes under Document Settings
- Add, delete or navigate between footnotes from the Footnotes menu in the Insert tab
- View a document outline with footnote references by going to View > Show document outline
- Use the Explore feature to find and insert citations from the web
With these steps, you’ll be able to add footnotes to documents like research papers, academic essays, business reports, articles, books, and more. Footnotes help demonstrate your credibility while keeping supplemental information easily accessible for readers.