Insert Footnotes in a Word Document

Annotate your papers with footnotes and endnotes

College professor using laptop at a desk

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When you’re working on an academic paper, it's important to cite your references, give explanations, and make comments. Adding footnotes in Microsoft Word is easy on both Windows PC and Mac. Word automates the process so the numbering is always correct. Plus, if you make changes to the document, Word automatically moves the footnotes to the correct pages.

Instructions in this article apply to Word for Office 365, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, Word 2010, Word 2007, Word for Office 365 for Mac, Word 2019 for Mac, and Word 2016 for Mac.

How to Insert Footnotes in Microsoft Word

To insert footnotes in Microsoft Word:

  1. Place the cursor in the text where you want the footnote mark located. You don't need to type the number. That is done automatically.

  2. Select the References tab.

    References tab in Word
  3. In the Footnotes group, choose Insert Footnote. This places a superscript number in the text and moves the cursor to the bottom of the page.

    Insert Footnote button in Word
  4. Type the footnote and add any formatting.

    Screenshot of a footnote in Microsoft Word 365
  5. To return to your place in the document, double-click the number or symbol at the beginning of the footnote.

    A footnote in Word with the number tag highlighted

Add footnotes in any order you want. Word automatically updates the numbering so that footnotes appear sequentially in the document.

How to Remove a Footnote in Microsoft Word

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

Footnote vs. Endnote

Microsoft Word generates both footnotes and endnotes. The only difference between the two is where these elements appear in the document. A footnote appears at the bottom of the page containing its reference number. Endnotes appear at the end of the document. To place an endnote, go to the References tab and select Insert Endnote.

Word with the Insert Endnote command highlighted

To convert a footnote to an endnote, right-click the footnote at the bottom of the page and select Convert to Endnote. To convert an endnote to a footnote, right-click the endnote and select Convert to Footnote.

A footnote's option menu in Word with the Convert to Endnote option highlighted

PC Keyboard Shortcuts for Footnotes and Endnotes

Use the following Windows PC keyboard shortcuts to insert footnotes and endnotes in a Microsoft Word document:

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

How to Customize Footnotes and Endnotes

After you create footnotes and endnotes, change the formatting and layout of these elements by following these steps:

  1. Go to the References tab and, in the Footnotes section, select the More Options icon.

    More Options icon in Word
  2. In the Footnote and Endnote dialog box, select the options you want. Choose between footnotes and endnotes, numbering format, custom marks and symbols, a starting number, and whether to apply the numbering to the whole document.

    More Options window in Word
  3. Select Insert to apply the changes.

    Footnote and Endnote options window with the Insert button highlighted