I would like to directly quote some sentences of another author who uses a word A which is a synonym for a word B I'm using in my text. Note: I would like to use my word B as the word A is very rare.

So I placed the text of the author into quotation marks and a footnote at the word A stating that in the following the word B will be used in my text. At the end of the quotation I put the source of the quote.

Is that correct or could it be misinterpreted as a footnote of the text I'm quoting? Should I add e.g. "Authors note:" before my footnote text?

  • Why not just put it in the main text? It seems important.
    – Bill Barth
    Dec 21, 2014 at 17:58
  • @BillBarth It isn't important just a word. The footnote is for the convenience of the reader so that he knows that the quoted text has sth. to do with my text, because the words are synonyms. Dec 21, 2014 at 18:02

2 Answers 2


My preference would be to avoid the footnote altogether, as I find them distracting. Keep the quote verbatim, give the source, and then explain the terminology in the next sentence of your text:

Smith claims that "the best breakfast is a soft boiled ovum" [Smith87]. (Smith's "ovum" refers to what our paper calls an "egg.")

Another option, if you don't really care about showing Smith's exact words to the reader, is to make the change in the quote itself, indicating the change with brackets.

Smith claims that "the best breakfast is a soft boiled [egg]" [Smith87].


I have no idea what your field is ... so I'm going to give a slightly different piece of advice than Nate Eldredge's answer.

When writing in Chinese philosophy, it is acceptable practice to at the beginning of your paper indicate that you are going to use Pinyin throughout including in quotations and then to change all quotations to Pinyin rather than marking each and every instance of such a change with [].

I have seen a few other places where similar conventions are allowed for changes in the common name used for a text, e.g., Practice in Christianity instead of Training in Christianity the for the Kierkegaard [Anti-Climacus]' text.

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