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 Don't Automatically Renumber.
by Allen Wyatt
(last updated September 27, 2014)
Roger was sent a Word document that he needed to edit. The document had 90 footnotes in it, and he needed to delete footnote 23. Roger went into the document body, found the footnote marker for the appropriate footnote, and then deleted it. The footnote was actually deleted, but the remaining footnotes did not renumber. Roger wonders what could be causing this problem with the footnotes.
The answer could be quite simple, and related to using the Track Changes feature of Word. When many people edit documents, they do so with Track Changes turned on. In that case, deleting the footnote doesn't actually delete it, but simply marks it as deleted text. Word doesn't renumber the footnotes because the footnote is still there—albeit marked for deletion. When the changes are accepted or rejected, then Word will renumber the footnotes accordingly.
If you are doing your edits without Track Changes being turned on, then it is possible that your footnotes don't use automatic numbering. Meaning, whoever created the footnotes actually inserted the numbers within the Custom Mark field of the Footnote and Endnote dialog box. Display the dialog box again and you can figure out if this is the case.
It is also possible that the document has multiple sections in it and that each section (or at least the section containing footnote 24) has been configured so that footnotes for that section begin with a specific number. You can figure this out by putting the insertion point in the section containing footnote 24, displaying the Footnote and Endnote dialog box, clicking Options and examining how the numbering is configured in that dialog box.
Finally, if you've tried everything else and the numbering is still messed up, try to "force" Word to examine the numbers it is using. Do this by following these steps:
The purpose of these steps is to try to remove any confusion that Word may be experiencing and cause it to renumber all the footnotes. If this approach doesn't work, try just a bit of a different approach:
WordTips is your source for cost-effective Microsoft Word training. (Microsoft Word is the most popular word processing software in the world.) This tip (13260) 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 Don't Automatically Renumber.
The First and Last Word on Word! Bestselling For Dummies author Dan Gookin puts his usual fun and friendly candor back to work to show you how to navigate Word 2013. Spend more time working and less time trying to figure it all out! Check out Word 2013 For Dummies today!
Want to modify where an endnote or footnote reference appears in relation to the punctuation in a sentence? Here's a way you ...Discover More
Footnotes and endnotes are normally visible with the rest of your document, but such visibility is dependant on which viewing ...Discover More
If you need to move footnotes or endnotes from one location to another in a document, you can use editing techniques you ...Discover More
FREE SERVICE: Get tips like this every week in WordTips, a free productivity newsletter. Enter your address and click "Subscribe."
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.