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: Brackets around Footnote References.

Brackets around Footnote References

Written by Allen Wyatt (last updated December 18, 2021)
This tip applies to Word 2007, 2010, 2013, 2016, 2019, and Word in Microsoft 365


Ayman created a document that has numerous footnotes in it. He would like the footnote references to have square brackets surrounding the numbers and wonders if there is a way to do this automatically.

The short answer is no, there is no way to add brackets around footnote references automatically. You can, however, add them by using Find and Replace. Simply follow these general steps:

  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. In the Find What box, enter ^f. (Make sure you use a lowercase letter "f".)
  4. In the Replace With box, enter [^&].
  5. Click on Replace All.

That's it. Word searches for all footnote references in both the main body of the document and in the footnote area. It then replaces them with brackets containing whatever was found in the search.

There is one caveat to this approach: You should do it only once, probably after you are done inserting footnotes in your document. If you do it more than once you will end up with multiple nested brackets, which could be a mess to try to clean up (though it can be done with additional Find and Replace operations).

WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (9255) 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: Brackets around Footnote References.

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. ...

MORE FROM ALLEN

Forcing a Page Break Before a Paragraph

There are times that you just want to begin a paragraph (perhaps a heading) at the top of a new page. Word allows you to ...

Discover More

Pop-up Windows in Word

Want to add a small pop-up window over a word in your document? There is no way to do this directly in Word, but you can ...

Discover More

Calculating an Average within a Date Range

Need to find an average of the values that fall within a date range? Excel provides a number of ways you can do this, ...

Discover More

Learning Made Easy! Quickly teach yourself how to format, publish, and share your content using Word 2013. With Step by Step, you set the pace, building and practicing the skills you need, just when you need them! Check out Microsoft Word 2013 Step by Step today!

More WordTips (ribbon)

Footnotes in Two Columns

When laying out how your printed pages will look, you might want to place your footnotes into more than one column. The ...

Discover More

Accessing Footnote Text in a Macro

Using macros you can access just about anything in a Word document. Accessing the text within footnotes is no exception, ...

Discover More

Deleting All Footnotes

Tired of all those footnotes hanging on the bottom of each page in your document? You can get rid of them in one step, as ...

Discover More
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

View most recent newsletter.

Comments

If you would like to add an image to your comment (not an avatar, but an image to help in making the point of your comment), include the characters [{fig}] (all 7 characters, in the sequence shown) in your comment text. You’ll be prompted to upload your image when you submit the comment. Maximum image size is 6Mpixels. Images larger than 600px wide or 1000px tall will be reduced. Up to three images may be included in a comment. All images are subject to review. Commenting privileges may be curtailed if inappropriate images are posted.

What is 1 + 1?

There are currently no comments for this tip. (Be the first to leave your comment—just use the simple form above!)


This Site

Got a version of Word that uses the ribbon interface (Word 2007 or later)? This site is for you! If you use an earlier version of Word, visit our WordTips site focusing on the menu interface.

Videos
Subscribe

FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."

(Your e-mail address is not shared with anyone, ever.)

View the most recent newsletter.