Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. If you are using a later version (Word 2007 or later), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for later versions of Word, click here: Footnotes within Footnotes.

Footnotes within Footnotes

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 5, 2020)
This tip applies to Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003


1

Footnotes are a common feature in many types of documents. In some types of documents you may actually need footnotes within footnotes, such that a footnote can be footnoted, with the "sub footnote" appearing in the regular flow of the main footnotes. (For those with a linguistic or literary bent, you can find out about footnotes within footnotes by referring to a style guide, such as Kate Turabian's book, Manual for Writers, or the Chicago Manual of Style.) Word does a great job of creating footnotes, using either your own footnote marks or automatic marks. It doesn't provide a way to add footnotes within footnotes, however. If you try to place a new footnote while the insertion point is located within an existing footnote, all that Word does is duplicate the footnote mark at the beginning of the existing footnote. If you select that footnote mark, copy it, and paste it into the footnote at the place you want, you still don't get the opportunity to enter any new footnote text. The only thing you can do is to "fudge" the footnotes—format your own footnote mark, press Enter at the end of an existing footnote, create a corresponding footnote reference at the start of the new line, and then enter the text for the forced footnote. The only drawback to this approach is that it plays havoc with automatic footnote numbering. Your fudged footnote isn't recognized by Word, so the next time you enter a footnote, its numbering continues from where Word thinks it should continue, not from where you know it should. There is a way around even this drawback, however. Let's say you want to create a footnote inside of footnote 3. Follow these steps:
  1. In the body of your document, create your regular footnote 3.
  2. In the body of the document, just to the right of the marker for footnote 3, create a new footnote. The marker for this footnote is 4, and it should appear right next to the marker for footnote 3.
  3. Select the new footnote marker (4) and format it as hidden text.
  4. In the text for footnote 3 (at the bottom of the page), position the insertion pointer where you want the forced footnote to appear.
  5. Choose Insert | Reference | Cross-reference to display the Cross-reference dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  6. Figure 1. The Cross-reference dialog box.

  7. In the Reference Type list, choose Footnote.
  8. In the list at the bottom of the Cross-reference dialog box, choose footnote 4, then click Insert.
  9. Within the text for footnote 3, select the cross-reference you just entered and format it the same as all your other footnote markers (superscript, etc.).
You've now created a footnote within a footnote, and the numbering will always be correct. The only thing you need to ensure is that you don't print hidden text with your document. If you do, then your marker for footnote 3 will actually look like 34 (because the hidden marker for footnote 4 is right next to it). You'll also want to make sure that you update fields within your document just before printing.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (104) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003. You can find a version of this tip for the ribbon interface of Word (Word 2007 and later) here: Footnotes within Footnotes.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Using the Reviewing Toolbar

The Reviewing toolbar is a handy location for many of the tools often used by editors when working on a document. Here's ...

Discover More

Understanding Macros

What is a macro? Ever wonder what these are and how to use them? This tip answers the basics of what a macro is used for, ...

Discover More

Inserting a Cross-Reference to the Last Style on a Page

It is often helpful to reference a specific heading in the header or footer of a page and have that reference change on ...

Discover More

Do More in Less Time! Are you ready to harness the full power of Word 2013 to create professional documents? In this comprehensive guide you'll learn the skills and techniques for efficiently building the documents you need for your professional and your personal life. Check out Word 2013 In Depth today!

More WordTips (menu)

Adding Footnotes to Endnotes

Word does footnotes. Word does endnotes. Word doesn't do footnotes within endnotes. Here's a discussion as to why and ...

Discover More

Disappearing Footnotes

Footnotes can be an integral part of many documents, particularly those written for a scholarly audience. If those ...

Discover More

Center-column Footnotes

Ever want to change the formatting of your footnotes? This tip explains what you can and can't do in Word.

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is one less than 7?

2022-01-02 00:44:04

Lester Language

Your knowledge of Word always amazes me. However, this suggestion seems a little too convoluted. If I'm not mistaken, the Chicago Manual suggests using non-numeric symbols like '*' or '†' or '‡' for footnotes within quotations or within footnotes, and I believe gives a hierarchy of such symbols that allows for up to four or five footnotes within a quote or footnote. Carrying things a bit farther, to add a footnote to a footnote that is already within a footnote, one might use the same set of symbols, but in reverse, or perhaps offset by starting the second-level subnote with the symbol corresponding to the current level, thus allowing for up to five levels.¹ This approach of course doesn't sequentially number subnote along with the first-level notes, but it could be argued that if subnotes are numbered the numbering should start over in each note containing a subnote. OR the first subnote should be numbered '1.1', the first sub(sub)note within it '1.1.1', etc.
___________________________
¹ This would be your normal footnote.*
___________________
*A footnote is a text inserted outside the main text for purposes of explanation, comment, etc.,
usually inserted at the foot† of the page.
____________________________________
† ...whence the term 'footnote.'

(The dagger and double dagger symbols should of course be in superscript.)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the menu interface (Word 97, Word 2000, Word 2002, or Word 2003)? This site is for you! If you use a later version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the ribbon interface.

Videos
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.