How to insert a footnote or endnote in Microsoft Word to add supplemental information to a document

  • You can insert a footnote or endnote in Word from the References tab of the ribbon.
  • Footnotes and endnotes are supplemental information you can add to a document and reference using superscripts in the main text. 
  • You can add multiple references to the same footnote using the cross-reference tool in the References tab of the ribbon. 
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While footnotes aren’t necessarily a commonly used formatting feature in Microsoft Word, you’ll appreciate having access to this ability if you need to create an academic or professional document that requires them. 

Footnotes allow you to place supplemental information at the bottom of the page — in other words, the footer — which you reference with a superscript number or symbol in the main body. 

Footnotes are different from endnotes; footnotes appear on the page they’re referenced, while endnotes appear at the end of the document. Which one should you use? Whichever you prefer — or more likely, whichever one is called for in the writing or publication standards you’re using.

How to insert a footnote or endnote in Word

Inserting a footnote or an endnote is straightforward; the hardest part is locating the feature. Here’s what to do:

  1. In Word, place the cursor at the end of the word where you want to place the superscript that references the note. 
  2. Click the “References” tab in the ribbon. 
    You can add a footnote or endnote from the References tab of the ribbon.Dave Johnson/Insider
  3. In the Footnotes section, click “Insert Footnote” or “Insert Endnote.” You should see a superscript appear at the cursor and the cursor will move to the footer of the page. Type the note.
  4. Return to the main body of the document and continue writing. 

Quick tip: On a Mac, another way to add a footnote or endnote in Word is to set your cursor where you want to place a note, click on “Insert” in the Apple menu, then select “Footnote” from the drop-down menu. You will see a dialog box appear where you can choose between a footnote and endnote, as well as customize them. 

How to customize a footnote or endnote in Word

Those simple steps should be all you need to create footnotes and endnotes for documents, most of the time. You can customize them, though, if you need them to look or work differently.

To get to the options for footnotes and endnotes, click the “References” tab in the ribbon and click the small arrow in the bottom-right corner of the Footnotes section. The Footnote and Endnote dialog box should appear. 

  • Control where the notes appear. In the Location section, you can choose “Bottom of page” or “Below text” to set where footnotes appear. If you choose “Below text,” the notes appear immediately under the last text on the page rather than all the way at the bottom. 
  • Change the footnote or endnote layout. Click the dropdown menu next to “Columns” to arrange footnotes into columns instead of following the format of the main text. 
  • Change the formatting of the footnotes and endnotes. You can specify the kind of numbering, lettering or other symbols that get used when you add footnotes. This is more than just an aesthetic choice; if you have both footnotes and endnotes in the same document, you’ll want to make sure they’re different to eliminate confusion. In addition, your writing or publishing guidelines might specify what numbering system to use for footnotes.  

How to cross-reference your footnotes and endnotes

You might need to repeat the same reference multiple times in a document. Rather than adding the same footnote or endnote repeatedly, you can cross-reference the first instance whenever you need to throughout the document.

Here’s how to do it using footnotes. If you want to cross-reference endnotes, the process is identical; just substitute endnotes for footnotes throughout the process as needed.

  1. After adding the footnote or endnote in the usual way, position the cursor where you want to insert it the second time.
  2. Click the “References” tab in the ribbon. 
  3. In the Captions section, click “Cross-reference.”
    Use the Cross-reference button to link to an existing footnote or endnote.Dave Johnson/Insider
  4. In the Cross-reference dialog box, set the “reference type” dropdown menu to “Footnote.”
  5. In the “Insert reference to:” dropdown menu, choose “Footnote number (formatted).” 
  6. In the “For which footnote” section, click the footnote you want to cross-reference and then click “Insert.”
    Choose the footnote or endnote you want to cross-reference.Dave Johnson/Insider
  7. Click “Done” to close the dialog box. 

You should see the superscript number appear that references the desired footnote. 

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