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: Brackets around Footnote References.

Brackets around Footnote References

by Allen Wyatt
(last updated March 16, 2020)

7

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.

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 Office 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. ...

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What is 9 - 1?

2021-01-21 14:16:47

natasaAK

Thank you so much. We were trying to edit footnote style and other things, but nothing worked.
You saved my friends PhD


2016-01-14 20:33:05

Ayman

It's not work with me


2015-06-21 00:39:03

megu

you save hours of my life T_T


2015-05-26 08:45:47

Joyce Boettcher

This tip was a time saver. Thanks. I will be sharing it with others at the firm I work for.


2015-05-05 19:44:39

liya

but.. dear teacher.. how to make it default for the word wholesomely??!
or if we select reference would it come so automatically??


2015-01-24 01:04:35

Kalpan Jasani

The brackets are added around the numbers of the footnotes themselves, but not around the number in the actual article, for which the footnote has been written. Can that be done?
Thank you.


2014-07-16 12:14:59

Elizabeth

Awesome tip. Thanks!
This will save me a ton of time :)


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