How do I designate the footnotes that are mine inside a quote?

I tried "our note", "note ours" and "remark is ours". Which one is the correct one and most commonly used? Or is there some other way?

For example:

He provides an argument for it:
   "Before the Greeks, the ancient Egyptians 
   used it[1] in the construction of their great pyramids."

[1] The Golden Section - note ours. <-- this is MY (drozzy's) note, not the original author's 

So you can see there is my note inside a quote.

Or if I have something without a footnote.

He provides an argument for it:

   "Before the Greeks, the ancient Egyptians 
   used it (Golden Section - note ours) in
   the construction of their great pyramids."

Note where I use note ours, to clarify that it is a Golden Section.

Any help appreciated.

  • 1
    I have no idea what's being asked here. o.O Apr 15, 2011 at 3:39
  • Can you clarify? Do you mean you have your own footnotes, but some of the quotes in your work from another text contain references to footnotes in that other text? Apr 15, 2011 at 7:16
  • @Ralph: I'm not sure of the precise format of what's being written and what's being quoted, but OP wants to differentiate between two types of footnotes: "quoted" footnotes, and "original-to-this-book" footnotes. Good question, actually, though I'm curious where it'd actually be relevant.
    – Standback
    Apr 15, 2011 at 9:06

5 Answers 5


If I understand you, you are writing a book and you have both your own citations and quoted material with citations and you want to distinguish the two types of citations. Is this correct? I don't see much need to distinguish them -- they are all just reference material, put them all in the end-notes (I hate numbered foot-notes personally, they're very distracting). If, as an ethical matter, you feel obliged to make the distinction, just write "citation in the original" in the end-note.

Or do you mean you have parenthetical material that was in foot-notes in the original? I would be inclined to omit them altogether in most cases, and if one were vital, I would include it in the main text:

Hamlet famously soliloquized

To be or not to be

and Shakespeare added in a foot-note "That is the question"

If you have so many quoted foot-notes that it becomes distracting, well, what the hell are you doing?

  • Thank you for desribing my question better than me :-) However, I really do need the distinction, as I am translating a book from another language, which uses this particular style. Also - they don't say "citation in the original" - but rather "ours" when it is theirs. Apr 15, 2011 at 11:48
  • @drozzy -- you are translating a book that has quotation from another source, with the quoter's comments interpolated in the quotations? Yikes. What Robert Graves did in the Claudius books (which of course purported to be mere translations) was mark his own comments with "RG" and put explanations Claudius was supposedly adding to letters and proclamations in square brackets unmarked, but you might want to use initials to distinguish every level of commenting. Apr 15, 2011 at 15:50
  • No, sorry, I am "translating" a book that I wrote. Apr 15, 2011 at 16:53
  • 2
    So you have notes that appeared in the original quote, notes that appeared in your Russian version, and notes that you want to add in your English translation? I think the innermost notes should be marked as from Ivanov (if Ivanov were the original author), your Russian notes unmarked, and your latest additions marked "translator's note" (even though you are your own translator). Apr 15, 2011 at 18:41
  • Hm.. sorry forget about translation. Imagine if I was writing this from scratch. Apr 19, 2011 at 22:06

I've seen the citation "(—ed.)" short for "editor," meaning "the editor added this on top of what the author wrote." The format is something like

One of the best-known quotes from Star Trek is "Scotty, beam me up!"(1) This basic command has become a cultural meme, and occasionally a frustrated commuter's lament.

(1)Although much like Casablanca's "Play it again, Sam," this line was never actually spoken verbatim. —ed.

  • That looks interesting Apr 15, 2011 at 18:44
  • Unfortunately I am not an "editor", but an author. I mean I put this there intentionally, and it was not added later as an afterthought, so this doesn't quite fit. Apr 19, 2011 at 22:08

Close to one of the other answers, it is quite common to use

  • EN: meaning Editor's Note
  • AN: Author's Note
  • TN: Translator's Note
  • PN: Publisher's Note

but make sure to write them in full the first time they are encountered in your book

Another solution is to use a different kind of symbol (for instance numerical for one kind and alphabetical for the other) and different typography (not the same font, block of notes separated by a short rule) for original notes and for added notes. This is sometimes used in critical editions of ancient texts: one separates notes about the "edition" : choice of words and readings, interpolation of missing words, notes about the "translation", "meaning", "context".

This can soon become really complex or distracting, eating up a lot of space. If you want to do a good job of it I would advise you to choose carefully your word processor program. For this kind of job I use TeX or XML based systems.

If you are both the original author and the translator, why don't you decide to adapt your own text as a new edition incorporating as much as possible in the flow of the sentences ? It will be easier on the readers. Just keep invisible (non printable) notes for yourself to keep track of your changes and your evolution.

As many people, I feel that in general books, except for references and unescapable precisions needed for the intelligence of the text by someone who is not the original author, footnotes are best avoided.

Footnotes were particularly useful when texts were typeset using lead characters and a press: it allowed to change and extend text without reworking the copy too much, it was the equivalent of an afterthought of the author.

  • Wow, thank you very much for the information. Do you know where this notation (EN, AN) comes from? Regarding adapting my own text - I already do that. But the quote I am providing is Not mine, and it was also in the original version, so I must transfer it - along with footnotes. Apr 19, 2011 at 18:24
  • I've revised my question to make it clearer... Apr 19, 2011 at 22:28

I'm assuming here that you mean you've got your own footnotes, but some of the citations from the original work contain their own footnotes from that work.

If this is the case, the first question to ask is: do you need the original footnote? If not, then remove it.

If you do need it, then I would suggest you make it your own footnote by doing something like this:

  1. Title of the article uses « novamente», while in the journal’s table of contents — « nuovamente»
  2. Shakespeare noted "That is the question".

Personally, I would use footnotes very sparingly, if at all. They can be very annoying and make your text difficult to read. In the majority of cases, turning footnotes into endnotes works much better.

Edit: Another possible solution you could try is to just include the original footnote verbatim, and then include a reference at the end to demonstrate it's from the original work. Example:

  1. "That is the question." (A. N. Author, 2000, pg. 150)
  • I do need the original footnote. Thanks - I thought there was some form of "This not is ours" in English... Apr 15, 2011 at 11:49

You can put the quotes in a boxed text which includes the quoted footnotes. This way the quoted footnotes are in boxes, whilst your footnotes are at the bottom of the page.

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