John K.
John K.

Footnotes in APA Format: Using Supplementary Information

6 min read

Published on: Sep 4, 2023

Last updated on: Sep 8, 2023

Footnotes in APA

When writing an academic paper, it is important to acknowledge the sources you've consulted. Different citation styles recommend different ways to add, cite, and acknowledge sources.

APA is one of the most widely used citation styles in academia, especially in social sciences. The APA format uses in-text citations to acknowledge sources and discourage the use of footnotes. 

However, there are some cases where you can use footnotes to provide supplementary information and explanations. This blog will explore the essentials of using footnotes in APA format to enhance the clarity and credibility of your academic writing.

Let’s dive in!

Formatting the Footnotes

Footnotes in APA are used to provide information or explain terms that may be unfamiliar to the reader. Here's how to format footnotes in APA:

  • Placement

Place the superscript Arabic numeral after the punctuation mark at the end of the sentence or phrase the footnote refers to. 

For example, as shown here.1

If there are multiple footnotes in a document, use consecutive numerals in the order in which they appear.

If the footnote only relates to the content within the parentheses, then the superscript should appear within the brackets. 

E.g. This example shows (place the footnote within the paranthesis2) how it's done.

  • Footnote Section

When you add a footnote, a separate section is created at the bottom of the page. The note starts with the same numeral in superscript as the text above, which indicates that it is related to that text.

Content in the note is written in smaller font size (10 points). It is aligned to the left with a first-line indent. 

Here is a complete example of a footnote in APA:


In recent years, renewable energy sources have gained significant attention as a viable solution to combat climate change and reduce our dependence on fossil fuels. Solar energy, in particular, has witnessed remarkable advancements in technology and affordability, making it a popular choice for homeowners and businesses alike. The solar industry's growth can be attributed to increased government incentives, technological innovations, and heightened public awareness about the benefits of clean energy alternatives.1


1Government initiatives include tax credits and subsidies for solar panel installation.

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Types of Footnotes 

There are two main types of footnotes used in APA style: Content Footnotes and Copyright Footnotes.

Content Footnotes

Content footnotes offer additional information or explanations that are relevant to the main text but may disrupt the flow if included in the body. 

Here are some common uses of content footnotes:

  • Elaboration and Clarification

In some cases, the main text may briefly touch upon intricate concepts or methodologies that require further explanation. Content footnotes provide the ideal space to delve into the details without burdening the reader with excessive information. 

Authors can use these footnotes to elaborate on the underlying principles, historical context, or technical aspects of their work. By doing so, they ensure that readers have access to all the necessary information while keeping the main text concise and focused.

  • Presenting Exceptions and Special Cases

When presenting general principles or theories in the main text, it may be necessary to acknowledge any exceptions or unique cases that may exist. 

Content footnotes offer a space to address such instances, preventing confusion or misinterpretation among readers. By including content footnotes for exceptions, authors can maintain the integrity of their arguments while acknowledging the complexity of the subject matter.

  • Relevant but not Directly Related Information

Sometimes, authors come across fascinating pieces of information during their research that might not be directly relevant to the main narrative. 

However, such details can add depth and engagement to the overall work. Content footnotes allow writers to share these facts without interrupting the main flow of the text.

  • Acknowledging Sources of Inspiration

Content footnotes also serve as an excellent way to acknowledge the contributions of other scholars whose ideas have influenced your work. Properly crediting these sources in content footnotes demonstrates academic integrity and helps readers trace the development of ideas in your writing.

Copyright Footnotes

Copyright footnotes, also known as permission footnotes, are used to acknowledge sources for copyrighted material that require permission for reproduction. 

Common instances include:

  • Figures and Tables 

When incorporating figures, tables, graphs, or images that are under copyright protection, authors must attribute them appropriately. Copyright footnotes offer a dedicated space where the author declares that the necessary permissions were obtained to use the material. 

By providing the necessary attribution, the author ensures that the original creators receive due credit for their work.

Expert Tip

Learn more about formatting figures and tables in the APA format.

  • Direct Quotations

Similarly, direct quotations of the copyrighted material also require permission from the creators or publishers. When directly quoting copyrighted material (e.g., song lyrics, poems, or extensive text passages), the author can use footnotes to declare that they obtained permission to use the material.

However, it's important to note that some uses of copyrighted material may fall under fair use exceptions. Fair use allows limited use of copyrighted material without seeking permission, usually for purposes such as criticism, commentary, reporting, education, or research. 

In such cases, an in-text citation is enough, and you don't need to add a footnote.

As a writer, you should seek the advice of your instructor or editor if uncertain about fair use application.

To conclude,

Using footnotes in APA format can enhance the clarity and credibility of your academic writing. However, remember to use footnotes sparingly and only include information that is relevant and supportive of your main arguments. 

By following the guidelines for formatting footnotes, you can add supplementary information and acknowledgments without breaking the flow of your text. 

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John K.


John K. (Research)

John K. holds a doctorate in management sciences, making him an expert on the subject matter. John is known for his opinions and knowledge, and he gives keynote speeches and runs workshops on a variety of writing and publishing-related subjects. He has also published articles in several online publications.

John K. holds a doctorate in management sciences, making him an expert on the subject matter. John is known for his opinions and knowledge, and he gives keynote speeches and runs workshops on a variety of writing and publishing-related subjects. He has also published articles in several online publications.

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