Inserting Footnotes in a Word Document

Annotate your papers with footnotes and endnotes

New Features in Microsoft Word 2016
New Features in Microsoft Word 2016. (c) Westend61 / Getty Images

When you’re working on an academic paper, it is important to cite your references, give explanations, and make comments. Adding footnotes in Word 2016 is easy on both Windows PCs and Macs. Word automates the process so the numbering is always correct. Plus, if you make changes to the document, you don’t need to worry about the placement of the footnotes.

Inserting Footnotes in Word 2016 for Windows

To insert footnotes in Microsoft Word 2016 for Windows, follow these steps:

  1. Place the cursor in the text where the footnote mark should be located. You don't need to type the number. That is done automatically.
  2. Click the References tab.
  3. In the Footnotes group, choose Insert Footnote. This inserts the superscript number in the text and then moves you to the bottom of the page.
  4. Type the footnote and add any formatting.
  5. To return to where you were in the document, press the keyboard shortcut Shift+5.

You can add footnotes in any order you want. Word automatically updates the numbering so that all the footnotes appear sequentially in the document.

How to Remove a Footnote

When you want to remove a footnote, just highlight its reference number in the text and click Delete. Microsoft Word renumbers the remaining footnotes automatically.

Footnote Vs. Endnote

Word is capable of generating both footnotes and endnotes. The only difference between the two is where they appear in the document. A footnote appears at the bottom of the page that contains its reference number. Endnotes all appear at the end of the document. To place an endnote, just select Insert Endnote (rather than Insert Footnote) in the References tab.

Convert a footnote to an endnote by right-clicking the footnote text at the bottom of the page and click Convert to Endnote. The process works both ways; convert an endnote by right-clicking the endnote text and clicking Convert to Footnote.

Keyboard Shortcuts for Footnotes and Endnotes

Windows PC keyboard shortcuts for footnotes and endnotes are:

  • Alt+Ctrl+F to insert a footnote
  • Alt+Ctrl+D to insert an endnote

Inserting Footnotes in Microsoft Word 2016 for Mac

Follow a similar process in Microsoft Word 2016 for Mac:

  1. Place the cursor in the text where you want to footnote mark to appear.
  2. Click the References tab and choose Insert Footnote.
  3. Type the footnote text.
  4. Double-click the footnote mark to return to your place in the document, 

Making Global Changes on a Mac

To make global changes to the footnotes on the Mac after you have entered them:

  1.  Go to the Insert menu and click Footnote to open the Footnote and Endnote box.
  2. Select the options you want in the Footnote and Endnote box. You can choose between footnotes and endnotes, numbering format, custom marks and symbols, a starting number, and whether to apply the numbering to the whole document.
  3. Click Insert.

On a Mac, you can choose an option to restart the numbering at the beginning of each section.