Footnotes, Endnotes—Let's call the whole thing off!

I just had a long back-and-forth with a production editor who was making the final corrections to a nonfiction manuscript with lots of notes. When she mentioned that she was “reorganizing” the footnotes, which I took to mean cutting them out and pasting them into a separate document, I immediately wrote back to say that

I’d kind of rather if you didn’t move the footnotes, though I appreciate the sentiment, of course, as the coder-to-be. They need to be converted to endnotes, sure, but that’s a global command in Word. And I’ll wrangle them further using my top-secret note-stripping weapon, known as NoteStripper. Moving them manually tends to lead to corruption, hair-pulling, and woe.

And then she wrote back,

That’s the thing, India, I think this book has footnotes AND endnotes. I will confirm with editor…

And then I wrote back, even more apprehensive,

Well, if the footnotes are to stay footnotes and the endnotes are to stay endnotes, then *especially* don’t move the footnotes. I’m using InDesign CS2, which is perfectly capable of setting embedded footnotes.

And then she sent me the file and wrote,

The editor now tells me the endnotes REPLACE the footnotes, and the author just could not figure out how to delete the embedded footnotes (and, alas, neither can I).

Aha. This is a common problem authors have, and in trying to get around it they tend to make everything worse—utterly breaking the embedded notes and making them a nightmare to set. Perhaps you are ignorant in this matter, as well? Just in case, I present, dear reader, my final volley:

For your edification—and the author’s, should you be feeling magnanimous—I share this hard-won knowledge with you:

To Convert Footnotes to Endnotes

  1. SAVE YOUR WORK.
  2. Select Insert -> Footnote… from the menu bar.
  3. Click “Options” button at the bottom of the resulting pop-up.
  4. Click the “Convert” button at the bottom of the next pop-up.
  5. Select “Convert all footnotes to endnotes” and click “OK.”
  6. Click “OK” on the second window.
  7. Click the “Close” button on the first window.

To Delete a Footnote or Endnote

  1. SAVE YOUR WORK.
  2. Find the superscript number in the main text that corresponds to the note you wish to delete.
  3. Delete the number. The note goes with it.

Note that these instructions are for Word 2004 for the Mac. The pop-ups may be slightly different in other versions, but both these functions should operate pretty much as described in any modern (1995+?) iteration of the program.

As I informed my correspondent, thank-yous are accepted in the form of dark chocolate or cash. Yes, we accept PayPal!

8 thoughts on “Footnotes, Endnotes—Let's call the whole thing off!

  1. Hey,

    and if you´re in the middle of the design work and you were not expecting any footnote? And then, banggg… there is footnotes and the document needs to be design in EndNotes!? Importing all document again and start over again?

    dam… this current guidelines for this magazine are insane. The authors do not respect the guidelines, the editors accept the texts and the designer, me, always get overloaded work because of this things.

    cheers… sry, im just saying… i needed!

  2. My first attempt to convert my footnotes to endnotes: I extracted the chapter into a separate file and performed the conversion using the convert button with success. However, when I placed the chapter back with the whole text, the end notes went to the end of the work and not the end of the chapter as I had intended. I think I’m missing something. Can you help?

  3. Hi, George.

    You need to make sure your chapters are separated with section breaks (Insert > Break > Section Break, in Word 2004, and there are four types of break to choose from), and that your note options are set to place the notes at the end of each section. In Word 2004, the dialog box looks like this:

    Note Options

  4. Thanks India. I had a go at that, having cottoned on to section breaks as you say, but the footnotes still went to the end of the document. I guess using section breaks means I don’t have to take the individual chapter out of the whole convert and replace. I only experimented with one chapter, maybe the whole work has to be sectioned before I begin. On that I was not too sure where to place the break ie. at the end of the last paragraph of the preceding or the end of that page? The other thing was that even though I had selected 1,2,3, the notes came out in Roman numarals.

  5. I’m pretty sure the Notes Options are set on a per-document basis. So if you cut a chapter out, change the Notes Options thereon, and then paste it back in, it will still inherit the options from the original document.

    Where you place your section breaks depends on what kind of breaks you’re inserting. If you’re using continuous breaks it doesn’t matter much, since the break is invisible; for the other types, it should be wherever you’d normally insert a page break.

    And it doesn’t matter whether you section the document before or after inserting notes or setting options. The notes should renumber and reposition automatically, whenever you add or remove a section marker. If they don’t, you’ve probably tangled up the links between notes and text. That’s very easy to do, unfortunately, and difficult to explain how to fix.

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