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Notes Essay

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Academic usage

Notes are most often used as an alternative to long explanatory notes that can be distracting to readers. Most literary style guidelines (including the Modern Language Association and the American Psychological Association) recommend limited use of foot and endnotes. However, publishers often encourage note references in lieu of parenthetical references. Aside from use as a bibliographic element, notes are used for additional information or explanatory notes that might be too digressive for the main text.

In particular, footnotes are the normal form of citation in historical journals. This is due, firstly, to the fact that the most important references are often to archive sources or interviews which do not readily fit standard formats, and secondly, to the fact that historians expect to be see the exact nature of the evidence which is being used at each stage.

The MLA (Modern Language Association) requires the superscript numbers in the main text to be placed following the punctuation in the phrase or clause the note is in reference to. The exception to this rule occurs when you have a hyphen in a sentence, in which case the superscript would appear before.

Aside from their technical use, authors use notes for a variety of reasons:

As signposts to direct the reader to information the author has provided or where further useful information is pertaining to the subject in the main text. To attribute to a quote or viewpoint.

As an alternative to parenthetical references; it is a simpler way to acknowledge information gained from another source. To escape the limitations imposed on the word count of various academic and legal texts which do not take into account notes. Aggressive use...

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