Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. If you are using an earlier version (Word 2003 or earlier), this tip may not work for you. For a version of this tip written specifically for earlier versions of Word, click here: Moving Footnote References Using Find and Replace.

Moving Footnote References Using Find and Replace

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated November 1, 2022)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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Raphael has a document in which footnote references are in the wrong place relative to the period at the end of a sentence. He wants to search for all instances where the footnote reference is before the period and move it to after the period. In some instances, the period may be followed by a quote mark, in which case he would want the footnote reference after the quote mark.

This is actually rather easy to do in Word, and the reason is because the Find and Replace feature allows you to search for footnote references. Here, for instance, are the steps to correct instances of a misplaced footnote reference, a period, and a quote mark:

  1. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  2. Figure 1. The Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.

  3. Enter the following into the Find What box: ^f." (that's a caret, f, period, and quote mark).
  4. Enter the following in the Replace With box: ."^& (that's a period, quote mark, caret, and ampersand).
  5. Click Replace All.
  6. Enter the following into the Replace With box: ^&# (that's a caret, ampersand, and pound sign).
  7. Click Replace All.
  8. Enter the following into the Find What box: ."# (that's a period, quote mark, and pound sign).
  9. Make sure there is nothing in the Replace With box.
  10. Click Replace All.
  11. Enter the following into the Find What box: ." (that's a period and quote mark).
  12. Click the More button, if it is available.
  13. Put the insertion point in the Replace With box.
  14. Click the Format button and choose Font. Word displays the Replace Font dialog box. (See Figure 2.)
  15. Figure 2. The Replace Font dialog box.

  16. Make sure the Superscript check box is cleared.
  17. Click on OK.
  18. Click Replace All.
  19. Close the Find and Replace dialog box.

That may seem like a lot of steps, but it goes pretty quick. Steps 1 through 4 essentially replace any instances of "reference period quote" with "period quote reference period quote." This is necessary because you can't use the ^f code (which finds a footnote reference) in the Replace With box. Instead, you use the ^& code to replace what you find with what you searched for.

The second replace operation, in steps 5 and 6, replaces "reference period quote" with "reference period quote pound." The pound sign is used simply as a marker that will be keyed upon in steps 7 through 9. After step 6 you really end up with "period quote reference period quote pound." Steps 7 through 9, then, eliminate the final "period quote pound," leaving the desired "period quote reference."

There is one more operation that needs to take place, however, and it is done in steps 10 through 16. After all the previous steps, the period and the quote mark are left not as normal text, but as superscript, just like the footnote reference. The purpose of steps 10 through 16 is to change them back to regular text.

Remember, these steps only take care of the initial desire to change "reference period quote" to "period quote reference." You still need to go through similar steps to change "reference period" to "period reference." In fact, you can use the same 17 steps you previously went through but leave out any quote marks from what you search for and replace with.

There is an even shorter way of doing the replacements, using wildcard searches. Just follow these steps:

  1. Press Ctrl+H. Word displays the Replace tab of the Find and Replace dialog box.
  2. Click the More button, if it is available.
  3. Make sure the Use Wildcards check box is selected.
  4. Enter the following into the Find What box: (^2)(.[""]) (note that there is both a straight quote and smart quote within the square brackets).
  5. Enter the following in the Replace With box: \2\1 (that's a backslash 2 backslash 1).
  6. Click Replace All.
  7. Enter the following into the Find What box: (^2)(.) (note that the only difference between this and what you searched for in step 4 is that the square brackets and quote marks are missing).
  8. Click Replace All.
  9. Close the Find and Replace dialog box.

These steps take care of all instances of "reference period quote" and "reference period." You should also note that these steps, using the wild card search, will also change the order of any endnote references within the document. So, if your document has both footnotes and endnotes, and you don't want the position of the endnote references modified, you should use the first 17-step process instead of the wild card search.

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (5941) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Moving Footnote References Using Find and Replace.

Author Bio

Allen Wyatt

With more than 50 non-fiction books and numerous magazine articles to his credit, Allen Wyatt is an internationally recognized author. He is president of Sharon Parq Associates, a computer and publishing services company. ...

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What is seven minus 5?

2022-11-20 20:34:56

Jeff Lindsay

This is a very valuable tip. Very nice principle for making changes throughout a document that might seem to require repetitive manual work. Thanks!


2022-11-01 05:23:25

Ilana

I just edited a document where the footnote markers were placed before all punctuation. In my case it was a bit less complicated because there were only footnotes and no endnotes. The fix I found (I won't reference the site, but it's not mine) was specific for people who write in romance languages (and put the footnote marker before any punctuation) and need to convert to Anglo style preferences (after all punctuation). The Wildcard Find/Replace formula was this:

Find: (^2)([.,:;\?\!])
Replace: \2\1

To reverse it (Anglo to Romance) - again Wildcard Find/Replace:

Find: ([.,:;\?\!])(^2)
Replace: \2\1

The complicating factor in your sample is the quotation marks. In my document, this simple Wildcard Find/Replace formula worked great!
*Note: If the document has a period after the footnote marker in the notes section, replace all will also replace those, so I tend to click through one at a time, or reverse the process for the footnotes section. Or do it early enough in my editing process that the system doesn't "find" those.


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