Footnotes have been used for centuries in academic articles as a convenient way to provide extra details and references. A footnote allows writers to offer proof, background and context e.g. to facts provided and without the risk of getting the readers distracted. Today more and more articles are published online and footnotes are not that common any more (except for sites like Wikipedia that use footnotes intensively for references). Reason may be that many writers lack the functionality to use footnotes in a simple and user friendly way and therefore decide to leave them out.
If you are using WordPress, one way to work around the “missing footnotes functionality problem” is to use a free plugin called Side Matter. This WordPress footnote plugin allows you to add footnotes inside your content and display them in the a sidebar (thus it is a kind of side note solution). The plugin neatly aligns the notes to the referenced text if placed in a sidebar. You can also add citations, digressions, or editorial remarks to pages and posts and all it takes is to use a simple shortcode and set up a widget.
Side Matter is a free plugin you can get from the WordPress codex. You need to download the compressed zip file and upload to your file server. Click activate and you are now ready to use the plugin. The plugins settings is integrated with the Reading Settings of WordPress. From here you can preview, change colors and, responsiveness, effects, positioning and where to display the side notes.
Side Matter works by using shortcodes to implement the sidenotes. In order to use ut you need to insert the shortcode [ref] [/ref] and place the sidenote inside the shortcode. The sidenote will be placed in the text after the shortcode end tag [/ref].
[ref]Note text goes here.[/ref]
Sample text wrapped with the shortcode.
To add the notes to the sidebar or any other widgetized area in your theme, Side Matter provide a widget that need to be setup under Appearance->Widgets.
Publishing the page would show the numeral indicators where the shortcode was placed. You can choose the type of indicator to be used so that it could be easily seen within the text.The notes added here moves to the text where the note corresponds.
Side Matter is a great solution for serious bloggers, students, scholars or anyone who wants to publish online and make use of footnotes. It provides a great way integrating your footnotes into a widgetized area (sidebar). You can check out this plugin here.