Definition of Footers & Footnotes in Microsoft Word

At first glance, footers and footnotes are easily confused. Footers and footnotes both appear at the bottom of document pages, separated from the rest of the text, but the similarity ends there. Each serves a different purpose in a document and adding a footer or a footnote involves different commands in Microsoft Word.

You can add a footer and a footnote on the same page.


Footers are small pieces of information that appear at the bottom of a page. The purpose of a footer is to provide additional information about the document and, once created, they usually appear on every page. Writers typically add things like page numbers, the date, document name or author of the document. However, Word lets you add less common but more sophisticated pieces of information such as formulas, barcodes or even images. A footer's grayed-out text appears at the bottom of every page.

Adding Footers

To add a footer, click the Insert tab to access the footer button. Word offers a number of predefined footer templates that you can start with and customize as needed. Word guides you in placing the bits of information in different locations in your footer. After inserting a footer, Word opens the Design tab where you can add what are known as “Quick Parts.” These contain common fields such as date and time stamps, file paths and author names. Word offers you the ability to create a different first page footer, or different odd and even pages.


Like footers, footnotes reside at the bottom of pages. However, while a footer repeats the same information on every page, a footnote applies only to the page for which the note provides additional information. You can add any number of footnotes to your document. Writers use footnotes for two purposes: to add comments that are too peripheral or tangential to be included in the body of the document, or to cite references mentioned in the body of the document. Word places a short separator line between the body of the document and the footnote.

Adding Footnotes

Word lets you add footnotes simply by highlighting a word in your text and pressing "Alt+Ctrl+F." Word automatically inserts a superscripted number next to the word you highlighted and adds the same superscripted number to the bottom of the page. You can then type the footnote text at the bottom of the page and return to your main document. Word keeps track of footnote numbering and numbers each one sequentially.