Insert 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'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, you don’t need to worry about the your footnotes' placement.

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

How to Insert Footnotes in Microsoft Word

Here's how 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.

    Screenshot of the References tab in Microsoft Word 365
  3. In the Footnotes group, choose Insert Footnote. This places the superscript number in the text and moves you to the bottom of the page.

    Screenshot of the Insert Footnote button in Microsoft Word 365
  4. Type the footnote and add any formatting.

    Screenshot of a footnote in Microsoft Word 365
  5. You can return to your place in the document by double-clicking the number or symbol at the beginning of the footnote.

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 in Microsoft Word

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

Footnote vs. Endnote

Microsoft 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 containing its reference number. Endnotes appear at the end of the document. To place an endnote, select Insert Endnote in the References tab.

Screenshot of the Insert Endnote option in Microsoft Word 365

You can convert a footnote to an endnote by right-clicking it at the bottom of the page and selecting Convert to Endnote. The process works both ways; you can convert an endnote by right-clicking it and selecting Convert to Footnote.

Screenshot of the Convert to Endnote option in Microsoft Word 365

PC Keyboard Shortcuts for Footnotes and Endnotes

You can 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

Once you've created your footnotes and endnotes, you can change their formatting and layout by following these steps:

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

    Screenshot of the Footnote More Options button in Microsoft Word 365
  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.

    Screenshot of the Footnote and Endnote box in Microsoft Word 365
  3. Click Insert to apply the changes.