How to Add Footnotes in Google Docs

Discover how easy it is to footnote

Footnotes provide more information about a particular part of the text, like a citation or additional details, without clogging up the body of the writing. There are many situations where you'd use footnotes, and Google Docs makes it easy to create them.

We'll go over a few ways to do this depending on what you want the footnote to include. You can make it semi-manually by having Google Docs give you the number and a space for writing the footnote, or you can auto-insert it, complete with the correct formatting style (MLA, APA, or Chicago).

This guide includes steps for both desktop and mobile users.

How to Add a Footnote in Google Docs

One way is from the desktop website, through the Insert menu. This is what you'd do if you want full control over what to include in the note.

  1. Put the cursor exactly where you want the footnote to go. This is where the number will appear.

  2. Open the Insert menu and select Footnote.

    Insert Footnote option in Google Docs on the web.
  3. You should have been taken to the bottom of the page and the footnote number should appear. Type the footnote information.

    A footnote in Google Docs.

To remove a footnote, delete the number in the text. It will automatically get deleted from the bottom of the page and adjust all the other footnotes so they're in order.

Here's how it works from the mobile app on Android, iOS, and iPadOS:

  1. Tap exactly where you want the footnote number to go.

  2. Select the plus sign at the top and choose Footnote from that menu.

  3. Enter the footnote text.

    Adding a footnote in Google Docs on Android.
  4. Zoom out and tap the checkmark if you're done editing.

How to Add a Properly Formatted Footnote

If your footnotes need to abide by a certain formatting style, the Google Docs website has a built-in option to not only do that but also grab the URL you need for the citation.

  1. Select an area of the text where you want the footnote to go.

  2. Select the Explore button (the star-looking icon) at the bottom right.

    The Explore button in Google Docs.
  3. Enter a link or keywords to search for whatever you're using as a citation source.

  4. Hover your mouse over the result and then select the quote icon to the right.

    The 'cite as footnote' option in Google Docs on the web.

    This is where you can change the formatting style. Select the three dots to choose from MLA, APA, or Chicago.

  5. Google Docs will automatically insert the number in the text and the citation in the footnote. You can edit it as needed.

    Two footnotes in Google Docs on the web.

How to Install Citation Apps

Google Docs can only do so much, but that's why the desktop site has built-in support for add-ons. Add-ons can provide additional features like other ways to add references and more formatting styles.

  1. Open the Add-ons > Get add-ons menu item.

  2. Select the search bar and enter footnote or citation to find add-ons.

    Citation add-ons in Google Docs.
  3. Select an add-on to get to the download page, and then choose Install followed by Continue.

    Here are some suggestions:

    • Endnote Generator converts your footnotes into endnotes so that they're added to the end of the document.
    • EasyBib provides a bibliography citation generator and tons of formatting styles.
    • Paperpile supports in-text citations and footnotes.
  4. Log in to your Google account if asked and accept any permission prompts (be sure to read them).

  5. Select Done on the installation confirmation page and then exit the add-on gallery.

  6. Open the Add-ons menu again to access the app you just installed.

    Add-ons installed inside Google Docs.
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