by Allen Wyatt
(last updated November 27, 2018)
Dineke edits legal texts with lots of footnotes. She inserts the footnote immediately after a period or comma (as she should), and the marker shows up as superscript (again, as it should). When using full justification, if the line has few words, Word inserts extra space between the period or comma and the superscripted footnote marker, although no space has been typed. This is not allowed in most style guides. Dineke wonders how to get Word to not add this extra space, but keep the footnote marker with the punctuation mark or word preceding it.
Word has always been a bit spotty in how it does full justification. The standard answer (which is, after all, a statement of reality) is that Word is not a page layout program. Therefore, it doesn't do justification as well as programs such as InDesign or any number of other programs that are designed for page layout.
Such answers, though, don't help folks like Dineke who rely day in and day out on Word to produce documents meant to look as good as possible. One solution is to simply turn off full justification, unless it is absolutely required by your style guide. In that case, you may want to try another solution: Turn on hyphenation. This will help minimize any spacing introduced into a line by Word.
There are a number of other justification fixes you can (and should) try, most of which are outlined at this WordTip: Getting Rid of Choppiness in Justified Text.
If you try these ideas and it still doesn't fix the problem, it could be that you really do have a space between the punctuation and the footnote marker. The easiest way to check this out is to increase the zoom factor in Word to the maximum, turn on non-printing characters, and examine what you see just before the footnote marker. Place the insertion point just before the marker, hold down the Shift key, and press the Left Arrow. If the punctuation mark is not selected, it means that there is a space (or something Word is treating as whitespace, such as a tab) before the marker. Press the Delete key and the problem should go away.
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