stones arranged in paw shapes

Editing Footnotes & Endnotes

The footnote function is one of the great features of Word: it will automatically change numbering, place them in order at the bottom of the page, shift them as pages grow and shrink, and renumber when they are moved around. The endnote function is similarly great. And even better, you can use both in one document!

However, editing footnotes and endnotes poses some challenges. Sure, Word will track changes you make to the words in the note, but it doesn’t handle other edits quite so smoothly, as shown in the demo video below.

TIP: To move between a footnote/endnote and its marker in the body text, simply click on the number/letter.

How to Move or Delete Footnotes & Endnotes

To move or delete a footnote or endnote, grab the marker in the body text. (That is, the superscript number or letter that indicates there is a note.) Press the delete key or just drag the marker where you want it. No need to delete the note contents first; it will all be deleted together. Word will renumber the notes accordingly — though it may not look like it did if you are tracking this change.


Numbering of the notes looks messed up if you are tracking changes. Usually, Word displays the original numbering no matter what “view” the document is in. And a move will look like one note was deleted and another added.

The only way to make reorganized notes look correct is to accept the change. So, either accept the change and leave a comment describing the change, or leave a comment explaining that the change will look correct once the change is accepted. You can do this in your cover letter (the transmittal memo) or in the document itself.

Leaving Comments

One of the challenges with footnotes and endnotes is that you can’t use the comment function within them. The comment function simply does not work when the cursor is placed in a footnote or endnote. This can be handled one of two ways:

  • Select the note marker in the body text and leave a comment attached there.
  • Leave a comment inline in the note itself.*

*Placing comments in the running copy is always risky. They might make it all the way through production into the final product! Guard against this by encasing such in-line comments between square or angled brackets so they stand out as content that should not be printed (as in the example below). If you track adding such comments, they are “less likely” to make it into the final product. No matter how you do it, in-line comments are always more risky than using a comment balloon.

[AU: Should this note be moved up one sentence?]

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© This blog and all materials in it are copyright Adrienne Montgomerie on the date of publication. All rights reserved. No portion may be stored or distributed without express written permission. Asking is easy!

Image of stones by Wokandapix from Pixabay

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