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The Footnote System

In the Footnote system (sometimes called the Oxford system), references are given in numbered footnotes at the bottom of the relevant page (or sometimes all together at the end of a chapter, article or book/thesis, in which case they are called Endnotes). Superscript numbers are placed in the text, usually at the end of a sentence and following any punctuation.1 The first reference to a book, article, or other publication is given in full in the footnote, while subsequent references are given in an abbreviated form: usually the author’s name, an abbreviated title (if necessary), and page number. A book/thesis will also contain a separate alphabetical Bibliography giving full details of all sources used.

Examples in text

This article draws on data from a wider doctoral study concerned to explore such questions as, historically, what is the meaning of higher education for women? Has higher education significantly improved the social position of those women who undertook a university education? And to what extent is higher education a vehicle for social change?2 The opponents of women’s higher education in the nineteenth century certainly feared that a university education for women would radically alter the separate spheres and ultimately lead to a sexual revolution,3 but recent research has suggested that, at the beginning of the twenty-first century clear gender divisions remain in employment.4

Examples of footnotes

2   S.J. Aiston, ‘The Life Experiences of University-educated Women: Graduates of the University of Liverpool, 1947 to 1979’, Ph.D., University of Liverpool (2000).
3   J. Burstyn, Victorian Education and the Ideal of Womanhood (London, 1980).
4   S. Dench, Key Indicators of Women’s Position in Britain (London, 2002).
12 Burstyn, Victorian Education, p.102

Further information

For a very detailed guide to the Footnote system look at Sections 9 and 10, pages 39-54 and 56-57, of MHRA Style Guide, London: Modern Humanities Research Association, 2002.