When you are writing an essay for a class which has a minimum of maximum word count limit, the question of whether or not footnotes and endnotes should be counted toward this limit can come up. Those who have an essay that is under word count are hoping that their footnotes and endnotes can be counted while those who are over the limit want to make sure that these don’t count. Which one is it?
Do footnotes count when doing a word count? No, footnotes don’t count in the word count in most cases. When a teacher or professor gives an assignment with a minimum or maximum limit, it’s usually done with the intent of being applicable to the topic being assigned. Footnotes are auxiliary information that further clarifies certain points being made in the essay. Since this isn’t a part of the body of the essay, most teachers and professors do not count footnotes as part of the essay’s word count.
This is a general rule of thumb. There can be exceptions depending on the teacher giving the assignment, so the best policy is to ask the person assigning the essay whether or not footnotes should or shouldn’t be included. If this is not possible, it’s best to assume that they are not counted.
Do footnotes count in a page count? Yes, footnotes generally count toward page count. Footnotes are found at the bottom of the page and don’t take up much of the page space in most instances. While it’s relatively easy to exclude footnotes from a word count, it’s much more difficult to exclude them from a page count. For this reason, most professors allow them to be included as part of the overall page count.
Again, counting footnotes as part of the page count is a general rule of thumb, not a definitive answer. It’s always best to ask the person assigning the essay to confirm that this is OK. If you find yourself in a position where this isn’t possible, in most cases it should be acceptable.
Do endnotes count in a word count? No, endnotes don’t count as part of a word count in most cases. Much like footnotes, endnotes give further information to a point made in an essay but aren’t part of the body of the essay. For this reason, endnotes are generally not included in an essay’s word count. The best policy is to ask directly if you aren’t sure about this, but when in doubt, it’s better not to count them.
Do endnotes count in a page count? No, endnotes don’t count as part of a page count most of the time. There is one significant difference between footnotes and endnotes which is endnotes are found at the end of the essay and not at the bottom of each page. Being at the end, it’s much easier to exclude them from a page count than it is to exclude footnotes. For this reason, endnotes aren’t usually counted when doing an assignment with a specific page count.
(Image courtesy of Lohan Gunaweera)