How To Insert and Format Footnote Citations in Google Docs

Footnotes are a great way to provide additional context, citations, or references in a document. Google Docs makes it easy to insert and format footnote citations. Here is a step-by-step guide.

Inserting Footnotes

Inserting a footnote in Google Docs is simple:

  1. Position your cursor where you want the footnote reference to appear (usually at the end of a sentence).
  2. Click Insert > Footnote. A superscript number will automatically be inserted in the text and you will be taken to the bottom of the page.
  3. Type your footnote text at the bottom of the page.

To add another footnote, simply repeat the steps above. A number will automatically be inserted and you’ll be taken again to the bottom of the page to add the footnote content.

Formatting Footnotes

Once inserted, footnotes can be formatted in several ways:

Change Footnote Location

By default, footnotes appear at the bottom of each page. To change the location:

  • Click Insert > Break > Section Break. This will split your document into separate sections.
  • Click Insert > Footnote in the new section. The footnote will now appear at the bottom of the new section rather than the bottom of the previous page.

You can use section breaks to group footnotes at the end of chapters, etc.

Change Footnote Font

To change the text font, size, color, or other formatting of footnotes:

  1. Click on the footnote text at the bottom of the page to select it.
  2. Modify the formatting using the options in the toolbar or menu.

This will apply the formatting changes to all footnote text in the document.

Add a Separator Line

You can add a horizontal line to visually separate the footnote text from the body text:

  1. Place your cursor below the last footnote on the page.
  2. Click Insert > Line > Horizontal Line.

Inserting Citations

Citing references properly can be difficult, but Google Docs makes the process easier with the “Explore” feature.

To add a citation:

  1. Highlight the text you want to cite.
  2. Click the Explore icon in the toolbar (it looks like a compass).
  3. Search for the source you want to reference.
  4. Hover over the search result and click the Quote icon.

This will automatically insert a footnote with the article title, date, and a link to the website. You can then edit the footnote text as needed to conform to the required citation style.

The Explore feature supports various citation styles including MLA, APA, and Chicago. Click the three dots next to a search result to choose the style.

Using Citation Apps

In addition to Explore, there are various third-party apps that can help with citations:

  • Paperpile – Insert citations from your library in over 9,000 styles
  • EasyBib – Get citations in MLA, APA and Chicago styles
  • Citation – One-click citations with support for over 30 styles

To use these apps:

  1. Click Add-ons > Get add-ons in the toolbar.
  2. Search for the citation app.
  3. Click Install to add it.
  4. Access the app’s features from the Add-ons menu.

The apps provide advanced features like one-click citation insertion, cloud syncing across devices, and collaboration on shared citation libraries for teams.

Tips for Readability

Here are some tips to make footnotes easy to read and navigate:

  • Use short phrases rather than full sentences in footnotes when possible.
  • Define acronyms on first use.
  • Link to sources so readers can easily access reference documents.
  • Add separator lines between the body text and footnotes using horizontal lines.
  • Format the text using a smaller font size to visually differentiate footnotes.

Keeping footnotes brief, readable, and relevant to the discussion will make your document easy to parse for the reader.

Troubleshooting Issues

Here are some common footnote issues and ways to resolve them:

Footnote numbers are missing

  • The superscript number may have accidentally been deleted from the body text. Re-insert the footnote to generate a new number.

Large gap between body text and footnotes

  • Insert a page break (Ctrl + Enter) before the footnote section to group them below the body text.

Footnotes overlapping bottom text

  • Increase the bottom margin size under File > Page setup to add more space.

Can’t delete footnote

  • Deleting the number in the body text will remove the corresponding footnote. Text may still remain at the bottom that can then be deleted.

Footnotes out of order

  • Footnotes automatically renumber if you delete one in the middle. You can manually fix numbering by editing each text number.

Getting the hang of using footnotes and citations in Google Docs takes practice, but following this guide should help you master the key functions for adding and formatting them properly. Let us know in the comments if you have any other questions!