Tips and tricks: Add footnotes to a page

Let’s say you’ve assigned your students a research project, and, when they’re done, they are supposed to post the paper to the wiki. They can link right to any of their online sources, of course. And any embedded videos or widgets will probably include a link back to their origin. But what about their offline resources? What about the books and newspapers and magazine articles?

Today, I want to take a look at an old-school approach to citing sources: footnotes.

How does it work?

  1. Edit your page.
  2. Place the cursor where you would like the citation to appear, usually at the end of a sentence or just after a quote or technical term.
  3. Click the Widget button in the editor toolbar.
  4. From the Wikispaces menu, select Reference.
  5. Click Embed Reference Marker.
  6. In the new box that has appeared at the bottom of your page, type the citation information. You can use the buttons in the toolbar to format the text.
  7. Scroll back up to continue editing the page.
  8. Save the page when you’re done.

Once the page has been saved, you’ll see a small, numbered, superscript link in your body text to the citation you just added. At the bottom of the page, you’ll see a list of your sources, with links to the portion of the text that cites them.

When you edit the page again, just scroll to the bottom to make changes to the contents of your footnotes.

Why are footnotes called “references”?
“Footnotes,” by definition, go at the bottom of a page. But the references on your wiki page can go anywhere you want to put them.

For example, you might want to add a reflection area to the bottom of a research paper. If you were looking at the paper itself, it might be confusing to scroll past the reflection to check the sources. In the same way, it might be distracting to see a list of sources tacked on to the end of the reflection when they really belong to the paper above.

In this example, you would want to place your reference section in between the paper itself and the reflections below:

  1. Edit your page.
  2. Place the cursor where you would like the list of references to appear, preferably on its own line.
  3. Click the Widget button in the editor toolbar.
  4. From the Wikispaces menu, select Reference.
  5. Click Embed Reference Text.
  6. You will see a tag on your wiki page that says “<references/>”.
  7. Save the page.

Now you’ll see your citations listed between two separate sections of content.

How do I format citations?
Well, that’s a tricky question. Different institutions recommend different standards for formatting citations. Ask your school or teacher if there is a standard format you should be following — they might have a prepared sheet or Web site that outlines the standards they prefer.

Or you might look it up in a style guide. The MLA Style Manual, currently in its third edition, is very popular for academic writing. The Chicago Manual of Style and the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association are two of the other most widely used style guides.

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