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: Using Cross-References in Footnotes.

Using Cross-References in Footnotes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 21, 2013)


If you are developing a scholarly document that includes numerous footnotes, it is not unusual to need cross-references in the footnotes. The problem is that if you use automatic footnote numbering, which is a powerful Word feature, the cross-references can quickly become a burden to update manually. Word allows you to automatically cross-reference footnotes so that your cross-references always stay correct once set. This is done as follows:

  1. In the main text of your document, select the footnote reference mark you want to cross-reference.
  2. Assign this footnote reference mark a bookmark name.
  3. Position the insertion point in the footnotes where you want to place the cross-reference.
  4. Press Ctrl+F9 to insert field brackets. Make sure the insertion point stays between the brackets.
  5. Type ftnref followed by the name of the bookmark used in step 2.
  6. Press F9 to update the field information. Word replaces the field with the footnote number to which the bookmark was assigned.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1013) 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: Using Cross-References in 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. ...


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What is six more than 8?

2015-04-29 00:06:27


I only discover this tip into my 945th footnote. The handy "cross-reference" feature is only half dynamic: it assigns the cross-reference footnote number once and for all. Add another footnote early on, and all the following cross-references are off by 1.
Didn't earlier versions of word change the cross-reference numbers automatically?
Anyway, thanks for this workaround, as clumsy as it is.

2014-12-01 08:10:12


If I place the cursor anywhere in the main text in Word and press 'ctrl+t' to select all and click the right button of the mouse, there is an 'update' option. But if I do the same procedure in any footnote, there is no 'update' option. This problem should be corrected by Microsoft, shouldn't it?

2014-01-14 05:45:11


You are great. This is really a super magic tip. Thank you so much.

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