Oral Footnotes

Speakers use oral footnotes in a speech to establish the credibility of the information presented. The audience should be assured that the information comes from a reliable source which can be looked up later by an interested listener.


  • In a September 2009 speech to Congress, President Obama stated, "It has now been nearly a century since Theodore Roosevelt first called for health care reform. And ever since, nearly every President and Congress, whether Democrat or Republican, has attempted to meet this challenge in some way."
  • According to a November 2009 Gallup Poll, 38% of Americans rate healthcare coverage as excellent or good.

In the examples above, "In a September 2009 speech to Congress, President Obama stated" and "According to a November 2009 Gallup Poll" are the oral footnotes. They give the listener a brief idea of the source of the information and introduce the quote and statistic given above. When composing an oral footnote include at least:

  • the person or organization who produced the information.

You may also want to include (and your professor may require):

  • the date of the information, e.g. 2009 in the examples above.
  • the credentials of the person being quoted, e.g. President of the United States.
  • the name of the publication or program in which the information appeared, e.g. The Wall Street Journal or The CBS Evening News.

Make sure you are clear on your professor's requirements before you give your speech.

Oral footnotes refer the listener to the full citation on the References or Works Cited page. So for the two examples given above, the speaker would include a full citation to President Obama's speech and to the Gallup Poll on the Works Cited page. MLA Works Cited Page for a speech using those two examples:

Works Cited

Jones, Jeffrey M. "Greater Optimism about U.S. Health System Coverage, Costs."  Gallup. 19 Nov. 2009. 

                Web. 13 July 2010.

Obama, Barack. "Remarks by the President to a Joint Session of Congress on Health Care." U.S. Capitol,

                Washington, DC.  9 Sept. 2009. Web. 13 July 2010.


Click to close