Different Layouts for Footnotes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated May 13, 2017)

Footnotes can be a handy feature to use within a document. For some documents (such as academic or legal works), they are absolutely critical. How you create and use footnotes within your document has been discussed in other issues of WordTips.

When laying out your documents, you may want to have the number of columns in your footnotes be different from the number used in the main body of the document. For instance, you may want footnotes to use two columns, while the main body uses only one. Unfortunately, Word doesn't allow you to do this—the number of columns in the footnotes and the main body must match.

This requirement can cause other problems, too. For instance, try making the top half of a page two columns and the bottom half one column. (This is easily done with a continuous section break splitting the two parts of the page.) Next, insert a footnote in the two-column section, in the top-half of the page. Make sure the footnote is set to appear at the bottom of the page. When you insert it, the one-column section no longer resides on the same page as the two-column text, despite the continuous break.

The only way to work around this problem is to "fudge" and do a manual layout. This means doing something like manually placing footnotes in the footer of the page, or using a two-cell table to put text in the main body of the document. Either method is fraught with drawbacks that are immediately evident to any long-time Word user. (The biggest drawback being the "intensive" labor involved in making the manual layout work properly.)

If you only have a couple of short footnotes (less than one line each) and want to simulate columns, you can do it this way:

  1. Make sure the insertion point is within the first footnote on the page.
  2. Put a left tab stop at the position on the full width line where the second of two columns would begin.
  3. At the end of the first footnote, insert a tab.
  4. Format the paragraph mark of that paragraph as hidden text.
  5. When you turn off printing of hidden text, you will see that the second footnote has jumped up to the tab stop on the printout.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1365) applies to Microsoft Word 97, 2000, 2002, and 2003.

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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