Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 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: Footnotes in Two Columns.

Footnotes in Two Columns

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated April 1, 2020)


Word includes the ability to place footnotes at the bottom of each page in your document. By default, the footnotes are placed into the same number of columns as you are using in the document. Thus, if your document uses two columns, then the footnotes will be placed into two columns, as well. In general, each of the footnotes appears under the same column in which the footnote reference appears.

Word 2013 added the ability to have your footnotes appear using a different number of columns than the main body of your text. (This is a huge formatting boon for those using footnotes.) Insert your footnotes as normal, but then follow these steps:

  1. Display the References tab of the ribbon.
  2. Click the small icon at the bottom-right of the Footnotes group. Word displays the Footnote and Endnote dialog box. (See Figure 1.)
  3. Figure 1. The Footnote and Endnote dialog box.

  4. Make sure that the Footnotes radio button is selected.
  5. Use the Columns drop-down list to indicate how many columns you want Word to use to display the footnotes.
  6. Click OK.

At this point Word reformats any existing footnotes so that they match whatever number of columns you specified in step 4. You don't have any control over the width of the individual columns; Word makes them all of equal width.

If you are using an older version of Word and you want your footnotes to appear in a different number of columns than your document does (for instance, two columns of footnotes when the body is a single column), you are out of luck; Word can't handle it. You could work around the problem by "faking" the footnotes, meaning to enter them manually (as regular text) and placing the notes themselves in a multi-column table placed at the bottom of the page. Of course, your footnotes won't automatically renumber, and they won't flow from page to page as you add or remove text from the body of the document.

If your desire is to have your footnotes in a single column while your text body is in multiple columns, the folks at the Word MVP site have come up with a workaround. You can find it here:

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (8961) applies to Microsoft Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Office 365. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Footnotes in Two Columns.

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 four less than 5?

2019-08-07 11:22:59



2018-06-15 14:19:18

Alex McPhail

I never would have figured this out - thanks !!!

2017-07-26 09:43:09


Fabulous. Thanks.

2017-02-11 21:47:36

J Davos

This tip has no effect on my footnotes in Word 2016 when I try to format existing footnotes into 2 columns. The document is one column (full page). Did I miss something?

2017-02-09 14:45:04


I just followed the above steps to have footnotes span both columns in a two-column document, and nothing changed. The footnotes are still displayed in only one of the two columns. I've re-tried this a few times, but can't figure it out. I want my footnotes to span both columns along the bottom of the page, instead of occurring in one of the two columns. I'm using Word 2016.

2016-06-12 01:54:07


tnx for a long y=time I was facing this problem and this was a huge help.

2016-06-08 00:30:18


Is it possible to change the spacing between columns in footnotes?

2016-05-14 07:51:23


it would be better to add captures of the effects or works in the article

2016-04-08 16:44:56

Helen Mary

I think my question is the same as the others ... Document is two columns. Footnote extends to bottom of page on left column. I want the regular text on the right column to extend to the bottom of the page too. Any solutions that doesn't mess up the formatting?

2016-03-20 04:35:10

Neil Frank

I use Office 2013.
In a document of two columns, the footnote appears in two columns. But since the footnote is in a footer, and the the footer extends across the columns, the adjacent column without has the margin that equals the height of the footnotes in the previous column.

Can headers and footers be in columns too?

2016-02-13 08:03:47


Dear Allen,

I have seached the Internet for a solution, even from Microsoft support without any answer yet, how to do this thing in Word 2016.

How can you make two columns (or more) in Footnote when the main document in Word 2016 are with one column?

I asked this guestion from the Microsoft chat suppothis can be done, but only with the Windows version of Word 2016, not the Mac version. So I bought yesterday the Windows version to my Mac Mini with Paralell Desktop with Windows 7.

Could you help me with this matter, Allen?


2015-12-02 11:42:09


wonderful tip. Is it possible to have the footnotes in columns, formatted from right to left?

2015-09-03 03:53:55


It does not help. The footnote is converted to single colun, but the column spans the whole page.
For IEEE documents, the footnote should be at the bottom of the first column.

Using text box works instead.

2014-06-08 09:43:17


I use Word 2010 at a major international bank. Footnotes placed before section breaks seem to cause endless problems, for which I've not found any workaround. I'd be happy if footnotes simply worked correctly!

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