'Author Notes': PK6 Academic Citation & Documentation (Hopkins)
Author Notes: 'Content' and 'Bibliographic'

Author notes provide a means to add extra information to one's paper that may be awkward to include in the text itself. Such extra information may, for example, clarify special terminology or punctuation used in the paper, or provide supplemental contextual or background detail on aspects of the paper that are not discussed directly. Notes are part of the paper's 'documentation' rather than citation per se.

Author notes promote good scholarly practice by providing additional clarification from the author's 'expertise.' They help readers understand better both the paper content and the relationship or background details of sources relevant to the paper. While author notes are not 'required' as such for [normal] academic papers, their use is encouraged, and most papers include ample opportunities to use them.

There are two general kinds of notes:

  • Content Notes, which provide commentaries or explanations that would not fit easily into the text [these are the most common type for student papers, and comprise most of the linked examples below]; and

  • Bibliographic, or Source Notes, which suggest additional sources for readers who want to learn more about a particular point than was covered in your paper; or which provide evaluative comments on sources you have used (why one was chosen over another, where sources may be found, etc.).

Examples of both types of notes in recent student papers are linked below.

How Are Notes Indicated, and Where Is the Notes Section Located?

Notes are indicated in the text by superscripted numbers1. In an HTML document these should be 'internal hyperlinks' to the Notes section at the end of the paper. (See instructions for how to code internal hyperlinks below.)

The Notes (Note if there is only one) section should immediately follow the body of the paper, before the Works Cited.

In the Notes section, each note should be numbered to correspond to the superscripts in the text. With HTML papers, one may use either the <OL> ("ordered list") command to number the notes (which is easiest), or place individual superscripted numbers before each note entry.

Examples of Author Notes

Examples of author notes can be found in papers by (among many other good examples):

A: 'Content' or 'Explanatory' Notes

  • Minna Hakolampi (The Finnish Spitz...) — explanation of 'dogs'/'bitches' vs 'male/female'
  • Jenni Laaksonen (Police Dogs in Finland) — note on dogs having 'elbows'
  • Anne Aaltonen (Finnish Immigration to Australia in the 1950s and 1960s) — (1) Further information on Herman Dietrich Spöring; and (2) explanation of citation procedure for two 'similar' Works Cited entries by Olavi Koivukangas.
  • Tuukka Taarluoto (Finnish Video Game Journalism) — explanation of '7' as 'average' in the standard Finnish secondary grading system
  • Johanna Eskelinen (Donald Duck As a Finnish Institution) — front-page advertising in Helsingin Sanomat
  • Tarmo Hietamaa one and two (Curse Words and Identity in "Frozen Land") — reference and 'register' explanations
  • Päivi Aalto (V. Linna's Under the North Star — varying translations)
  • Martti Latva (From Patronage to Prohibition) — definitions of "draff" and "corn"
  • Mirva Seppänen (The Development and Social Impact of the Finnish School Catering System) — explanation of educational terminology equivalence; meaning of 'thanking for food'
  • Sini Sylvelin (The Victims of the Finnish Civil War) — definition of 'careless eating'
  • Pekka Snellman (Finnish Territorial Waters and Naval Surveillance) — map defining and locating the Archipelago Sea

B: 'Bibliographic' or 'Source' Notes

  • Katri Mattila ('Posti': the Finnish Post and Postal System) — bibliographic note on Jukka-Pekka Pietiäinen's histories
  • Saija Suomaa (Currant Production in Finland: Past, Present and Future) — bibliographic note on where further information can be found on the healthy influences of berry consumption
  • Riita Rautiainen (The President's Independence Day Reception) — bibliographic followup on the Winter & Continuation Wars; 'mead'
  • Irina Kyllönen (The Tribes of Finland) — bibliographic followup on the Swedish and Saame minorities in Finland
  • Neea Paatero (Differences ... in The Great Gatsby) — note on publication data

How to Code Superscripted Internal Hyperlinks in HTML Papers

The HTML syntax for superscripted internal note hyperlinks is twofold. First, establish a "target" for your internal hyperlink. Just above the Notes section header, enter, for example, <a name="notes">. Then, when a reader of your paper clicks on a superscripted note number elsewhere on the page (for example by clicking "Top" at the bottom of this page — see the following paragraph), they will end up at your "target" at the beginning of your Notes section.

Then, for each of your numbered notes, use the following syntax: <a href="#notes"><sup>X</sup></a>. This first establishes a clickable internal hyperlink to your "notes" target (as defined in the paragraph above), and then turns on the "superscript" command for the number of the notedefined in this example as X — and then turns off the "superscript" command after the number, and finally turns off the internal hyperlink.

Once you have coded this the first time, and checked that it works, you could use copy-and-paste to transfer the HTML coding sequence to the next note location, if your paper has more than one note (remember to replace the "X" with the number of each successive note).

Finally, use the HTML <OL> 'ordered list' command to list your notes. Use a <LI> 'list item' entry (perhaps also preceded by a <P> 'paragraph-break' command for greater separation and clarity) for each separate note. This will automatically enumerate and indent the notes, and multi-line notes will have an indented sub-margin, leaving the number of each note clearly visible at the outer margin to the left.

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Last Updated 26 October 2011