Footnotes and Endnotes in Word

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Getting started with Word’s footnotes and endnotes.

Footnotes is one of those Word features that’s been around for a long time and so it often ignored in all the hoopla about new features. In this article we’ll have a close look at Footnotes and Endnotes.

In Word there are Footnotes and Endnotes however they are really the same feature with differences in the position of the footnotes that we’ll explain.

As usual, Office-Watch.com will go beyond the standard explanation of an Office feature. We’ll dig into how Office really works including any bugs we find along the way or things that could be done better by Microsoft.

Footnote

A standard footnote looks like this:

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The superscript 1 appears in the text with same number at the bottom of the page. The footnote usually contains supporting or additional information that might be of interest to the reader but is placed separately so the main document doesn’t get cluttered up.

Being an electronic document there’s more possibilities available than with a paper version.

Hover your mouse over the footnote number in the text and the footnote itself will appear at a tooltip.

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Sadly, that tooltip feature isn’t included if the document is saved to PDF format from Word.

You may have already noticed the web link in the footnote. Footnotes in Word aren’t limited to text. You can also add images and even links to embedded or external files (e.g. sound file).

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As you’d expect Word handles the numbering for you automatically. If you add a footnote below an existing one, the new footnote is numbered accordingly.

Insert a Footnote or Endnote in Word

Inserting a footnote or endnote into Word is easy. In Word 2007 and later to Word 365 there are big buttons on the References tab.

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For Word 2003 and before go to Insert | Reference | Footnote

Even better are the shortcuts

Ctrl + Alt + F Add Footnote

Ctrl + Alt + D Add Endnote

Positioning

Notes can be placed in four different places within a Word document

  • Bottom of page
  • Bottom of text
  • End of section
  • End of document

The last two are called ‘Endnotes’ in Word and we’ll detail how they work in a little while.

To change the position of footnotes go to the Footnotes dialog box at References | Footnotes then click the arrow in the bottom right corner.

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‘Below Text’ will put the footnotes close to the end of the text on that page while ‘Bottom of Page’ means the footnotes are always at the end of the page even if that means a large vertical gap between the end of the text and start of footnotes.

Endnotes

In Word you can have both Footnotes and Endnotes. Normally you’ll have one or the other, but not both. We’ll look at dual Footnotes and Endnotes in a moment but now let’s see how to swap footnotes to endnotes and vice-versa.

Let’s say you have footnotes in a document then decide (or are told) they need to be at the end of the section, chapter or document. That’s an easy fix!

Go to the Footnotes dialog box at References | Footnotes then click the arrow in the bottom right corner. Click on Convert to see your choices.

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  • Convert all footnotes to endnotes
  • Convert all endnotes to footnotes
  • Swap footnotes and endnotes

Some options won’t be available depending on what the document has in it.

Choose ‘Convert all footnotes to endnotes’, click OK and presto! the footnotes are now at the end of the document. Same content in the footnotes, just different positioning. Naturally, the numbering of the notes is automatically updated.

Positioning Endnotes

For Endnotes you can put them at the end of the section or the end of the document.

‘End of Section’ means you can have endnotes at the end of each chapter, assuming that each chapter is in a separate Word section.

‘End of Document’ puts all the endnotes in one block at the very end of the document.

Deleting Footnotes and Endnotes

To delete a Footnote or Endnote, go to the reference in the document (usually a superscript number or character) and delete that reference.

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Removing the reference will delete it and the linked notes.

Deleting the footnote text does NOT delete the footnote, just leaves it blank. You must delete the reference in the document instead.

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