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How to use Footnotes and Endnotes in Microsoft Word

Posted by Roger Hyttinen on

Footnotes are comments that appear at the bottom of the page and are used to provide remarks on or to explain text in a document. Endnotes appear at the end of the document and are typically used for citations of sources. Microsoft Word automatically numbers your footnotes and endnotes although you have the option of setting the beginning number.

You can choose to restart numbering at each section or at each new page. When viewing a footnote or endnote on your screen, moving your mouse pointer over the footnote number or endnote number in the document text launches a smart tag window which displays the footnote or endnote text. Thus, it is not necessary to scroll to the bottom of the page to view your notes.

Footnote and Endnote dialog box

Don’t worry if after you’ve entered in all of your Footnotes you then decide that they should have been endnotes instead. You can easily convert all of your footnotes to endnotes or vice-versa by clicking the dialog launcher on the Footnotes group of the Ribbon, clicking the convert button and choosing from one of the following options:

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

Convert footnotes to endnotes

The Footnote and Endnote dialog box (which appears when you click the Footnotes dialog launcher) contains many other options for customizing your footnotes and endnotes, such as numbering and formatting.

Quick Guide: To Create a Footnote or Endnote

  1. Set the insertion point where you wish the footnote or endnote number to appear.
  2. Click the References tab on the Ribbon.
  3. To quickly insert a footnote or endnote, click the Insert Footnote or Insert Endnote button on the Footnotes group and type in your text.
  4. To insert a custom footnote or endnote:
    a. Click the References tab on the Ribbon.
    b. Click the Footnotes Dialog Box Launcher.
    c. Click the Footnotes or Endnotes radio button.
    d. Select any additional options (location of note, number format, etc.).
    e. Click Insert when finished.
    f. Type the text for your footnote or endnote.
  5. To edit a footnote or endnote, click the note number in the document and make your changes.
  6. To convert footnotes to endnotes, endnotes to footnotes or to swap endnotes with footnotes:
    a. Click the References tab on the Ribbon.
    b. Click the Footnotes Dialog Box Launcher.
    c. Click the Convert button.
    d. Choose your desired conversion options.
    e. Click OK.
  7. To delete a footnote or endnote, select the note number and press the Delete key.

Tip: To insert a Footnote using a keyboard shortcut, press Ctrl + Alt + F.


Looking for more Word tips? Our Word 2016: Up To Speed guide is now available in printable PDF format from this site. The Up To Speed series is designed to help you get productive quickly with your software. Check back as new titles will be added regularly. Also available as an ebook from Amazon, iTunes Books and Kobo.

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