5 Ways to Bring Footnotes into WordPress

    Lior Levin
    Lior Levin

    With the use of hyperlinks, extensive footnotes have been generally rendered unnecessary for bloggers. Why go through the trouble of formatting footnotes for a post when a few links can get the job, and you don’t have to worry about where to place commas or which publication information to include?

    Nevertheless, if you want to present better references for your work, especially if you’re involved in the academic or research fields, footnotes can prove to be an excellent way to make your work more presentable and reliable for your audience—think of how effective footnotes are on sites such as Wikipedia. You can immediately check the quality of source material by examining the title of a work, its date of publication, and even reading the article all by clicking on a hyperlink. The opportunities that online citations provide for greater transparency make them especially attractive.

    If you have the coding experience necessary, you can code your own footnotes feature for your blog. But if you run WordPress, you only need to select which plugin you prefer (there are about five that are widely used), install it, customize it, and start adding footnotes. Here are some of the leading plugins for WordPress which make referencing sources as footnotes a breeze.

    Simple Footnotes

    Although this plugin’s stats is currently on the low side for number of downloads, many WordPress plugin reviewers really like this plugin, and for good reason. Once you install Simple Footnotes, it’s extremely easy to use. To set off a footnote you simple write: “Text in your sentence. [ref]Footnote text.[/ref]” Your footnotes will be automatically numbered so that you don’t have to worry about messing up their order.

    If you have paginated posts with links to move on to the next page or topic, you can even alter the position of your footnotes. Just change your Simple Footnote settings under the Reading section in the WordPress control panel for paginated posts.

    FD Footnotes Plugin

    FD Footnotes Plugin lets you denote your footnotes inside of brackets with numbers that you determine on your own. You can set up the footnotes so they only show up on individual pages rather than on your home page—which could slow down your site.

    In addition, you can set up the footnotes to be collapsed until they’re clicked so readers will only view the after they have selected a particular number. This could come in handy if you’re writing footnotes that provide extensive supplemental information and take up a lot of space or that may only be relevant to a few readers.

    JQuery Hover Footnotes

    The JQuery Hover Footnotes plugin has some advanced features that go beyond simply adding a footnote at the bottom of your blog posts. You can install this plugin and enable a “popup/hover” footnote function that will display the contents of your note when a reader mouses over it. You also have a lot of variety for your footnote characters, including numbers, words, and ANSI characters. The footnotes can be sized as normal text, superscript, or subscript, and you can also place them either in the page footer or hide them so readers can rely solely on the hover functionality.

    The short code markup for using this plugin is as follows: “This is my post and I want to add a footnote{{1}} in the text.” By default it will appear as a superscript. This is just about as simple as it gets, and depending on what you need to display on your blog, you can set all of that up ahead of time in the administration panel.


    If you need a more robust plugin for footnotes to provide an overall academic feel to your website that incorporates all of the formatting and style options you need for academic work, AcademicPress provides everything you need. Like the other plugins, the footnotes with AcademicPress are easily marked as you typed and come with a variety of numbering and lettering options. The plugin automatically generates a list of footnotes at the end of each post in order to display the footnotes.

    Besides providing footnotes, this plugin also supports a wide variety of citation styles, including APA, Harvard, Chicago, MLA, and Turabian. Your references can be automatically formatted in any of these styles, which can be a huge time saver even for your inline citations. As you type the shortcodes (which are what make plugins like this work), the Academic Press Plugin comes with a “VirtualBox” so that you can view them on the fly.


    NetBlog is a more technical plugin, providing both static and dynamic referencing options for your footnotes. The static option means you’ll have to manually define each reference, while the dynamic option means your notes will be automatically parsed.

    The big difference with this plugin is that you can create bibliographic properties for citations on your blog without having to manually enter them. For example, by creating a widget in your sidebar, this plugin enables you to display pingbacks and outgoing links in a reference widget, creating a cleaner look for your post automatically. You can even display incoming links on each blog post page.


    Creating a list of footnotes can be a real time drain, especially if you need to code and format each one manually. When you run WordPress with footnote plugins, you can take advantage of higher academic standards for reference materials and build credibility for you and your website by integrating footnotes as pop up functions, lists at the end of your posts, or widgets in your sidebar. Once you learn the shortcode you need and how to tweak the plugin’s settings to match your blog, you’ll be ready to quickly and efficiently cite your sources without worry or hassle.

    Image via Fotolia