Please Note: This article is written for users of the following Microsoft Word versions: 2007, 2010, and 2013. 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.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated January 27, 2017)
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:
Figure 1. The Footnote and Endnote dialog box.
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, and 2013. You can find a version of this tip for the older menu interface of Word here: Footnotes in Two Columns.
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