Footnote, Endnote, and Bibliography Questions

Article contributed by Daiya Mitchell


  1. Some Introductory Facts
  2. Footnotes Print on the Wrong Page (external link)
  3. Un-Superscript Reference Numbers (external link)
  4. Footnotes and Columns (external link)
  5. Random Lines Appear
  6. Text After Endnotes
  7. Endnotes in Alphabetical Order
  8. Reference Numbers as 1–6, not 1,2,3,4,5,6
  9. Notes Won't Renumber
  10. Refer to a Note More than Once
  11. Make Insert>Footnote Default to Endnote

Some Introductory Facts

Word offers many features that can be turned to your advantage when using notes and a bibliography.  However, about the only thing Word does automatically that is specifically designed to help with citing references is to place footnotes/endnotes and number and re-number them. This is quite a lot, as anyone knows who has ever typed footnotes on a typewriter, but computers in general are capable of much more.

For most purposes, Word treats footnotes as identical to endnotes except for their placement in the printed version. Sometimes this is annoying, but it means that just about anything that applies to footnotes or endnotes can be done to the other. It is also very easy to convert footnotes to endnotes, or vice versa (or both at the same time). Thus the generic "note" applies to footnotes and endnotes.

When using endnotes, you may find Normal View makes your life easier, as it can show the endnotes in the pane at the bottom of the screen instead of making you bounce around the documents (yet you still use View>Footnotes to bring up the endnotes). Using Normal View will also prevent you from accidentally typing text in space that Word has reserved for endnotes. If you try to put your bibliography or appendix into “endnote space,” you are likely to run into trouble.

I need APA style, etc: Word can easily handle the layout elements required by APA style and similiar bibliographic guides—you should search the web for one of the many templates offered free by third parties. As of this writing, Word does ship with an MLA template and a Chicago template among the default templates, but not an APA template. However, Word will not manipulate the text of references (change punctuation, abbreviations, etc) to fit a particular bibliographic style for you, and it is unlikely that MS will ever consider it profitable to incorporate these features. To automatically format notes or a bibliography with the information and punctuation appropriate to a particular bibliographic style, search the web for information on bibliographic management software. The big three (cross-platform) are EndNote, ReferenceManager, and ProCite, all owned by the same company and about US$100 after student discount—a web search may turn up cheaper alternatives, as many people do not need the full power of those three programs. Mac users should also investigate Bookends and Sente [Lene Fredborg, 15-Jan-2020: Removed outdated link to]. NotaBene is a Windows-only program suite that replaces MS Word and includes bibliographic management software. All of these programs offer trial versions as of the time of writing.

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Word puts random lines in my document when I use footnotes and endnotes.

These lines are separators. You can access them by switching into Normal View. Go to View>Footnotes. A footnote or endnote pane will open up at the bottom. Use the dropdown menu at the top of the pane to change as desired.

There are four types of separators:

In addition, Word offers Footnote Continuation Text and Endnote Continuation Text, so that you can end a page with a line saying “note continued on next page.” I’ve never seen anyone actually use this feature.

Occasionally, a separator can get extra formatting, such as Space Before or Space After, attached to it, creating a big space between your notes and text. After selecting a separator, the Close button above should become a Reset button, which you can use to clear any such formatting. Conversely, you can minimize the space between notes and text by deleting the separator line and formatting the space as 1 pt. You can also replace the separator lines with text, if you like.

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I need to put a bibliography after my endnotes, but Word won’t let me.

Word interprets “end of document” very strictly.

What you need to do is insert a section break at the end of the document. Change the endnote setting to “end of section” instead of “end of document,” and then suppress the endnotes for all sections except the one you want the notes to follow. Then put your bibliography, or your appendix, or your index, or whatever text is necessary, after that section break.

To insert the section break:

Use Insert>Break>Section Break (Next Page). (Presumably you want the bibliography to start on a new page after the notes, that's standard). However, you need to insert the Section Break after the main text of the document, not at the end of the endnotes. If you put the cursor at the end of the endnotes and attempt to insert a section break, all the section break commands will be grayed out. Word will not let you do this, because you are trying to put the section break in "endnote space," which Word has reserved for this special function. You might want to switch into Normal View temporarily, then Word will hide all endnotes and "endnote space" and get it out of your way, and you will be safe from accidentally making a mistake. (There are people who have typed entire bibliographies in "endnote space" and then been very confused.)

To set “end of section”:

WinWord 2002 and later versions: Insert>Reference>Footnote. Select the radio button for “Endnotes,” and you will see a dropdown list box appear with two choices: “End of document” and “End of section.” Select “End of section.” You probably also want to change the setting to restart at each section, instead of continuous numbering.

MacWord and WinWord up to Word 2000: Insert>Footnote, click the radio button for Endnotes, click on Options, change the setting from “End of document” to “End of section,” click OK to exit Options, click Close to save the setting change but not insert another note. If you accidentally click OK and insert another note, Control-Z (Mac: Command-Z) will Undo the note insertion but not the setting change.

To suppress endnotes:


WinWord: File>Page Setup, click on Layout tab, and check the box for “suppress endnotes”. Make sure that “apply to” is set to “whole document.”

MacWord: Format>Document, click on Layout tab, and check the box for “suppress endnotes”. Make sure that “apply to” is set to “whole document.”


Put the cursor in the section you want the endnotes to follow, go back to the Layout dialog, and uncheck “suppress endnotes.” Make sure that “apply to” is set to “this section.”


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I need to put my endnotes in alphabetical order

Then don’t use Word’s endnote feature, because those aren’t really endnotes as Word understands them. Instead, set your Works Cited list up alphabetically. Then apply numbering to it, so that Word will update the numbers as you add, subtract, or re-order items. Then, as you write your text, use Cross-References, not Word’s footnote or endnote feature, to insert a cross-reference to the entry for the work that you are citing. If you use cross-references, Word will update the numbers to match the Works Cited list. You will need to press F9 to Update Fields for the reference numbers to update—they will not update automatically as footnote numbers do.

To apply numbering to your alphabetical list:

Direct Formatting: Select the entire list and use Format>Bullets and Numbering. You can click Customize… to format the numbers as you prefer, if you want [1] or superscripted numbers. You will probably want to click Customize at least to set the Number Position to “Right”, if you have more than nine entries, as otherwise #10 willl break the alignment.

Style-based Formatting: Apply one of the predefined List Number styles. Again, if you have more than nine entries, you will probably want to Modify the style so that the numbers are right-aligned on the decimal.

To insert cross-references:

WinWord 2002 and later: Insert>Reference>Cross-reference.

MacWord and WinWord 2000 and before: Insert>Cross-reference.

Make sure “Reference type” is set to “numbered item” on the left, and “Insert reference to” is set to “paragraph number” on the right.

If you applied the numbered list as direct formatting, the cross-reference will automatically carry the same formatting as the numbered list of Works Cited.

If you want the numbers in the text to have a particular format, you can use Find & Replace to format all the cross-reference fields. To do so, go to Edit>Find. Click More in the dialog (or the blue arrow, in Mac versions). Enter ^19 REF in the Find box. Put your cursor in the Replace field, then click on the Format drop-down menu in the dialog, select Font, and apply the formatting you want to the empty Replace box.

To update the cross-references:

Win: select all and press F9.

Mac: press F9.

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When I cite multiple sources, I want to show the reference numbers as 1-6, instead of 1,2,3,4,5,6.

Most current style manuals suggest you combine all citation information in a single note, separated by semi-colons, instead of piling up multiple references numbers at one spot. However, if you really need them as separate notes, then insert the notes as usual but without the commas, then insert an en dash after the 1 or before the 6. Then select 2345 and press Ctrl+Shift+H to format the reference numbers as Hidden.

If you are on a Mac or the keyboard shortcut does not work, use Format>Font to format the reference numbers as Hidden.

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I enter a new note, but Word doesn’t renumber the old ones

If you are Tracking Changes, the numbers will sort themselves out once you have Accepted all Changes.

Otherwise, sometimes Word fails to recognize existing notes in the document as footnotes or endnotes. The main symptom of this problem is the refusal to renumber existing notes when you add new ones. The most common cause of this problem is converting the document from WordPerfect. Footnotes and endnotes do not convert well. Thus far, no one has found a solution to this problem other than manually reinserting all of the notes and copying the text over.

It’s also possible that the person who created the document did not realize Word had a note feature, and manually created endnotes instead (this is more common than you might think). If View>Footnotes is grayed out, or you cannot double-click on the number to jump to the note, this is likely the case.

If you are positive the document was created in Word and used Word’s note feature, it may be worth trying the standard techniques for corrupt documents:

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Refer to a Note More than Once

This is nicely covered by the Help topic "Refer to the same footnote or endnote more than once" (notice that searching in everyday langauge would actually bring up the correct result) and is duplicated here only to make this a more complete reference guide. There is more detailed information in Help.

Use Insert>Reference>Cross-Reference (Insert>Cross-Reference in WinWord pre-2002 and all Mac versions) to insert a cross-reference to the existing note. You will need to Update Fields (usually by selecting all and pressing F9) for the cross-references to update if the note numbers change.

Make Insert>Footnote Default to Endnote

You can't change the default settings in the Insert>Footnote dialog. Instead, bypass the Insert>Footnote dialog altogether, using the predefined commands InsertEndnoteNow or InsertFootnoteNow. Use the Tools>Customize dialog to check if there is already a keyboard shortcut for these commands. Assign your own if there is no shortcut, or move the commands to a menu or toolbar where they will be easy to access, and much quicker than using the dialog.

If you set the number format for the notes in the Insert>Footnote dialog once, Word should remember your settings in the future, both in the dialog and when using the commands to insert a note immediately.