How to Insert a Footnote in Microsoft Word: A Step-by-Step Guide

Inserting a footnote in Microsoft Word is a straightforward process. Simply place your cursor where you want the footnote to appear, click on the ‘References’ tab, and select ‘Insert Footnote’. Word will automatically number the footnotes for you, and you can then type your citation or note in the bottom margin of the page.

After completing this action, the footnote number will appear in the text, and the corresponding note will be placed at the bottom of the page. This allows readers to quickly reference additional information without interrupting the flow of the main text.


When it comes to academic and professional writing, properly citing sources and providing additional commentary plays a crucial role in maintaining credibility and enhancing the reader’s understanding. That’s where footnotes come in handy. A footnote is a note that appears at the bottom of a page that provides extra information about a particular word or phrase in the text. It’s a way to give credit to sources, offer additional information, or share comments that may not fit within the body of the document.

Microsoft Word, the widely used word processing software, offers a simple and efficient way to insert footnotes into your documents. This feature is particularly relevant to students, researchers, and professionals who regularly engage in writing papers, reports, and articles. Knowing how to effectively use footnotes can elevate the quality of your work and ensure that you are following proper citation guidelines. So, let’s dive into the steps to master the art of inserting footnotes in Microsoft Word.

Related: How to Delete Microsoft Word Documents: A Step-by-Step Guide

Step by Step Tutorial on How to Insert a Footnote in Microsoft Word

Before we get into the nitty-gritty, let’s understand what these steps will accomplish. By following these instructions, you will learn how to insert a footnote in your document, which will allow you to provide additional information without overcrowding your main text.

Step 1: Place the Cursor

Place your cursor where you want the footnote number to appear in the document.
Placing the cursor correctly is crucial because it determines where the footnote number will be displayed within your text. Make sure it’s directly after the sentence or phrase you want to comment on or cite.

Step 2: Click on ‘References’

Go to the ‘References’ tab at the top of the Word document.
The ‘References’ tab is where all the tools for citations, bibliographies, and footnotes are located. It’s your one-stop-shop for all things related to referencing.

Step 3: Select ‘Insert Footnote’

Click on ‘Insert Footnote’ in the Footnotes group of options.
Once you click on this, Word will automatically insert a superscript number where your cursor is placed and will simultaneously add a corresponding number at the bottom of the page, where you can type your footnote.


Automatic NumberingMicrosoft Word will automatically number your footnotes in sequence, which saves time and ensures accuracy.
Easy NavigationReaders can easily navigate between the text and the footnotes, facilitating a better reading experience.
Clean LayoutUsing footnotes helps to keep the main text uncluttered by moving citations and additional information to the bottom of the page.


Space ConsumptionFootnotes can take up a significant amount of space at the bottom of pages, potentially leading to more pages in your document.
DistractingSome readers might find moving back and forth between the text and footnotes disruptive to their reading flow.
Formatting IssuesImproperly managed footnotes can cause formatting issues when converting a Word document to a different format, such as PDF.

Additional Information

Footnotes are a critical aspect of many forms of writing, but they can also be a bit tricky. Besides knowing how to insert them in Microsoft Word, it’s essential to understand how to format them correctly. Depending on the citation style you’re using—APA, MLA, Chicago, etc.—the formatting of your footnotes might differ. So, always double-check the guidelines for your specific style.

Another tip is to use the cross-reference feature in Word. This allows you to refer back to a specific footnote earlier in your document without having to insert a new one. This can be particularly helpful when the same source is cited multiple times throughout a text.

Remember to keep your footnotes concise and relevant. They’re there to provide supplementary information, not to contain large chunks of text that could have been included in the main body. Lastly, consider your audience. If you’re writing for a general audience, too many footnotes might become overwhelming. On the other hand, if you’re writing a research paper or thesis, the more detailed your footnotes, the better.


  1. Place the Cursor where you want the footnote.
  2. Click on ‘References’.
  3. Select ‘Insert Footnote’.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I delete a footnote in Word?

Yes, you can delete a footnote by simply deleting the number in the text. Word will automatically adjust the numbering of the following footnotes.

How do I format the numbering style of footnotes?

Right-click on the footnote text area at the bottom of the page, select ‘Note Options,’ and then choose your desired number format.

Can I insert a footnote in a Word table?

Yes, you can insert footnotes in tables. The process is the same as inserting footnotes in the main text.

How do I convert footnotes to endnotes?

Right-click on the footnote text, select ‘Convert to Endnote,’ and Word will move the note to the end of the document.

Can I undo the insertion of a footnote?

Yes, you can undo the insertion by pressing Ctrl+Z or by clicking the ‘Undo’ button in Word.


Understanding how to insert a footnote in Microsoft Word is a valuable skill that can enhance the quality of your written work. Footnotes serve as a functional tool for providing additional information, clarification, or citation without cluttering the main body of the text. With the simple steps outlined in this article, you can effortlessly incorporate footnotes into your documents, maintaining a professional and organized format.

While the benefits of using footnotes in your work are clear, ranging from automatic numbering to clean layout, it’s also crucial to be aware of potential drawbacks like space consumption and possible distractions for readers.

Remember, the key to using footnotes effectively is to ensure they are relevant, concise, and properly formatted according to your citation style. So, go ahead, give your writing that extra touch of professionalism, and never hesitate to footnote away!