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: Heavy-Duty Footnotes.

Heavy-Duty Footnotes

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated December 13, 2021)


Carlisle ran into a problem with a professor that was using Word to write a "parallel book." The book would feature Latin text on one page with the parallel English translation on the adjacent page. Each page could contain footnotes, and the footnotes must be counted independently of each other. Carlisle wondered if there was a way to accomplish such a task in Word.

The short answer is no, there is no way. Word was never designed to do such a task. There are, however, workarounds. The first work-around is to simply rely on the book's publisher to handle the footnote issue. This answer is not as flippant as it may at first seem. Many professors are published by academic presses, and those companies wouldn't do their final typesetting in Word. Instead, they use Word as a source of the text that they import into their composition software. A quick check with the publisher may save hours of footnote frustration, because they may want the footnotes done in an altogether different manner that doesn't even involve Word's automatic footnoting.

Assuming that the professor is going to self-publish, then another simple workaround is to just store each of the parallel translations in different document files. Put the English translation in one document and the Latin in another. Then each can have its own footnotes. When it comes time to create the final document, just print one translation on each side of the paper. On the first printing pass, for instance, you could print the Latin document. Then turn the paper over and print the English document. This may take some trial-and-error, but it is ultimately quite flexible.

The downside to this, of course, is that the page numbering will also be independent in each file. That means that each file will have a page 1, etc. What you probably want is to have one document represent the even page numbers and the other represent the odd page numbers. This is handled easily enough by using a field to calculate the page numbers that are printed in the header or footer:

{ = 2 * { PAGE } }
{ = 2 * { PAGE } -1 }

The first field is used to calculate and display the even page numbers and the second one does the odd page numbers.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (1470) 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: Heavy-Duty 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 one more than 7?

2017-01-28 10:55:20

Jonathan Handel

PS: When using endnotes and footnotes as described in my othercomment, he could even make the English-language notes use Arabic numerals and the Latin ones use Roman numerals. However, those might get ridiculously long if numbered continuously throughout the book.

2017-01-28 10:52:17

Jonathan Handel

He can set the footnotes to restart each page, and then they will be numbered independently.

But perhaps he wants the notes to run in two sequences that are numbered continuously throughout the respective languages. The above answer seems to assume that this is what was desired, but the question doesn't actually say so.

There is a solution even here, I think: Use footnotes on the left-hand pages and endnotes on the right-hand pages (or vice versa). They will be numbered independently of each other. Set the endnotes to display at the end of each section. Put a hard page break after each left-hand page and a section break (new page) after each right-hand page.


The endnotes will appear right after the text on the right-hand page, rather than at the bottom of the page. So, he will need to follow the text with blank lines to force the endnotes down. If the text or endnotes on the right-hand page change, the number of blank lines will have to be adjusted. Also, the spacing or font size of the blank lines may have to be changed, in order to get exactly the right amount of space the force the endnotes all the way to the bottom of the page.

Using blank lines like this is appropriate for self-publishing, but will probably not be what a commercial publishing house will want to see.

Also, this solution assumes that there are not multiple sections within each right-hand page-- or at least, that the endnotes are all in last section on each page.

Why would there be multiple sections on a single page?

The most common reason sections change within a page if is you switch between one column layout to two (or more) columns. So, if each page has an un-annotated heading in one column layout (across the width of the page), then a body in two columns that will have notes, that's ok.

But if the heading will also have notes, or if he switches from one column to two and then back again, this approach won't work.

In fact, both endnotes and footnotes are fouled by such switching: the endnotes will appear after each section, so some will idiotically appear in mid-page. And the footnotes (on left-hand pages) will convert some of the section break (continuous) occurrences to section break (new page) occurrences instead.

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