MLA style of documentation is the preferred style for recording scholarly findings in arts and humanities subjects. The exact method of citing the sources in an MLA style research paper depends on the assignment guidelines as this style offers various methods for the purpose. Research paper footnotes, even though not a much preferred way of referencing in MLA style, is not forbidden either. Hence you should refer to your assignment guidelines to check whether the use of footnotes is either specified or forbidden.

Parenthetical references are preferred above footnotes. This is due to the fact that in-text citations do not require the reader to move away from the line he or she is reading in order to find out the bibliographical information. Footnotes, even though mentioned in the same page, require the reader to stop reading the article and move down to the bottom of the page to find out about the source. MLA style permits the use of footnotes for bibliographical reference purposes even though a separate list under the heading of ‘works cited’ is a more commonly used method of referencing.

MLA style research paper footnotes would include the information on the author, the book, the place of publication, name of publisher, year of publishing and the page number. Each of these points would be separated with a comma. And the place of publication, the name of the publisher and the year of publication would be within brackets. To be precise, the MLA style footnote should be formatted as:

1 name of the author, the title of the book (the place of publication: name of publisher, year of publishing) page number.

Note that the name of the author should not be reversed in a footnote. The number should appear as a superscript to the left of the citation and to the right of the footnote. The complete bibliographical data needs to be given only for the first citation from a book, in a sequence. If you are making another reference from the same book after the first citation, your footnotes need to include only the last name of the author and the page number. But remember that this rule does not apply if you have made any footnotes on a different source between the two references from the same book.

Make sure that the number given to the footnotes link accurately to the cited material. Wrongly linked research paper footnotes will fail the very purpose of citation. The footnotes should also correspond with the information given in the works cited page at the end of the research paper.

Remember that, unlike a Chicago style research paper, the use of research paper footnotes is not mandatory for MLA style of documentation. Include footnotes in an MLA style research paper only after confirming with your instructor. If you are not familiar with the use of footnotes and have been asked to use it for your research paper assignment, you should either consult your teacher for advice or get help from professional academic writers.