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: Footnotes in Two Columns.

Footnotes in Two Columns

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated April 24, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


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 Microsoft 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 4 - 1?

2024-02-29 21:57:43


That worked! Thank you. :-)

2022-04-11 12:05:23

Paul Cusack

Thank you very much for sharing this tip. Saved me time trawling through google searches for an answer - 5 Stars!

2021-11-19 07:20:18

Andrew B

I just cant make this work - I have tried puttin endnotes and footnotes into two or four columns - while the main text is in just normal single column. You say 'select 2 columns and the click OK - but there is no OK button, just Apply or Insert - have tried both. Have seen suggestions that getting endnotes in columns may only work if its done when you insert the first endnote, but however I try , cant make it work. I dont think I have seen an actual demonstration of it working. So frustrating. Am using Word Office 365 . Am I just stupid?

2021-06-16 23:03:30

Janet Neubecker

If you got a neck rub and a dollar for every time you have saved someone's butt, you would be a happy man. I don't think you get thanked one iota the amount you are due! So, Thank You! once again, Mr. Wyatt.

2021-06-12 19:06:46


Thanks for your helpful comment. Will this work for endnotes as well? I'm having a difficult time getting my endnotes into 2 columns.

2021-04-25 04:35:35

Arya Larijani

Thank you. This is really helpful

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