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Formatting Information — An introduction to typesetting with LATEX

Chapter 5: Textual tools

Section 5.1: Footnotes and end-notes

The command \footnote{Like this}, followed by the text of the footnote in curly braces, will produce an auto-numbered footnote with a raised small number where you put the command,4 and the numbered text automatically printed at the foot of the page. The number is reset to 1 at the start of each chapter (but there are packages to override that and make them run continuously throughout the document, or even restart at 1 on each page or section).

LATEX automatically creates room for the footnote, and automatically reformats it if you change your document in such a way that the point of attachment and the footnote would move to the next (or preceding) page.

Footnotes in titling and sectioning commands (\title, \caption, and \author; \chapter, \section, etc) are regarded as Bad Style, and you SHOULD try to avoid them. If you can’t, in \title and \author you MUST prefix the \footnote command with \protect to prevent it being taken as part of the text. In \caption, \chapter, \section, etc, you MUST use the optional argument to provide the un-footnoted version for the ToC (see § 2.6 above).

Depending on the book or journal style, footnotes in titles may need to produce the symbols *, †, ‡, §, ¶, |, **, ††, and ‡‡ instead of the values 1–9 (and an error message for the tenth such footnote). In accordance with standard publishing practice, footnotes inside a minipage environment (see the para ‘Where the contents is more complex, …’ in § 4.6 above) produce lettered notes instead of numbered ones, and they get printed at the bottom of the minipage, not the bottom of the physical page (but this too can be changed).

There is a package (endnote) to hold over your footnotes and make them print at the end of the chapter instead or at the end of the whole document, and there is a package (fnpara) to print many short footnotes in a single footnoted paragraph so they take up less space. It is also possible to have several separate series of footnotes active simultaneously, which is useful in critical editions or commentaries: for example, a numbered series for the original author’s original footnotes; a lettered series for footnotes by subsequent commentators or authorities in later editions; and a roman-numeral series for your own footnotes. Note that some disciplines put their bibliographic references in footnotes (notably Historians) and they even call bibliographic references ‘footnotes’ (see § below).

It is also possible to format footnotes within footnotes, although this is considered Really Bad Style.

Verbatim inside footnotes

Because LATEX reads the whole footnote before doing anything with it, you can’t use the \verb (inline verbatim) command inside footnotes on its own: either use the \VerbatimFootnotes command from the fancyvrb package, or prefix \footnote with \protect, or use (abuse?) the \url command instead (which you should be using for Web and email addresses in any case).

If your footnotes are few and far between, you may want to use the sequence of footnote symbols above instead of numbers. You can do this by redefining the output of the footnote counter to be the \fnsymbol command (with the footnote counter as its argument) in the Preamble of your document:


There are also ways to refer to a footnote, and to defer the positioning of the footnote if it occurs in a float like a Table or Figure, where it might otherwise need to move to a different page, but these techniques are out of scope here.

  1. Like this.  
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