How to Create the Little Numbers for Citing Footnotes

Techwalla may earn compensation through affiliate links in this story. Learn more about our affiliate and product review process here.
Image Credit: damircudic/E+/GettyImages

When you write academic essays, you often need to supply footnotes that serve as references for sections of the text. The process for creating a footnote citation in Microsoft Word is straightforward because the software includes a feature for that specific purpose. The small numbers in Word used for referencing are handled automatically and match up with whatever you want to include as a footnote. You can create footnote numbers manually, but this doesn't work as well because you need to spend time getting the corresponding footnotes to display only on the page with its matching text entry.


Using the Footnote Word Tool

The easiest way to put in a footnote using Microsoft Word is to use the "Insert Footnote" tool. Move the cursor position to the end of the sentence you want to insert a related footnote for, and then go to the "References" tab. In the "Footnotes" section, click the "Insert Footnote" button. This automatically adds a little number to the text and takes you to the footer section of the page so you can add the footnote. Word keeps track of the numbers used as you work so when you click "Insert Footnote" again, it progresses to the next number automatically.


Video of the Day

This process works in a similar way in other word processing programs. For example, in Google Docs, insert a footnote by clicking "Footnote" under the "Insert" drop-down menu.

Footnotes vs. Endnotes

Endnotes are similar to footnotes, but they are placed at the end of the document rather than at the end of the current page. Other than that, they work similarly. You add endnotes instead of footnotes when you want all the references for your document to appear at the end of the document. Endnotes are preferable for adding background information or more detail to support the content in the main text, but they can also work for references.


Formatting Footnotes

Microsoft Word includes some tools for formatting footnote numbers. Click on the small icon in the bottom right corner of the "Footnotes" section of the "References" tab to open up the "Footnote and Endnote" dialogue box. Use the "Number Format" field to choose which characters you want to use for footnotes, and you can also use the "Custom mark" field to use something unique for your footnotes. The "Numbering" field gives you the option of resetting the footnote numbers on each new page or in each new section, with the default being that they continue to increase sequentially throughout the document.



Put in a Footnote Manually

You can create footnotes manually if you like, but it is time-consuming. Create the small numbers in Word for referencing a footnote by clicking the "Superscript" icon, which is an x with a little number, and then type the number you want to use. Making the actual footnote is more difficult. Open the "Footer" section under "Insert" to go to the footer of the page. Type the number that corresponds to the numbered text and then type the footnote.


The problem with this approach is that the footer is automatically applied to the whole document. To prevent this from happening, move the cursor to the text at the end of the page. Go to "Page Layout" and then "Breaks." From the drop-down menu, click "Next Page" under "Section Breaks." This splits the pages into separate sections, and each section can have a unique footer. Double-click the footer on the second page and then click on the highlighted "Link to Previous" option that appears at the top of the page to deactivate it. This removes the link between the previous section's footer and your new section's footer. Change the text on the second page's footer as required.

To prevent the new footnote from being applied to each subsequent page, repeat the section break process as many times as needed.




Report an Issue

screenshot of the current page

Screenshot loading...