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InDesign allows you to create footnotes or to import them from Microsoft Word documents; however, if you need anything other than a basic footnote, you might need a little help from some third-party tools. So let's start with the basics of creating footnotes. Footnotes in InDesign are either imported with text from Microsoft Word or an RTF document or you make them from scratch. To make a footnote from scratch, the first thing to do is to go to Type and choose Document Footnote Options. These options will apply to all the footnotes in the document. While it will be great to have something like a footnote style you could apply on a case-by-case basis, that doesn't exist in InDesign.
You can have different styles of formatting for footnotes in different parts of your document. So there are two parts to this dialog box. In the first part, we have options for numbering and formatting our footnotes. You can choose a numbering style, like Arabic or Roman, or different kinds of symbols or letters. You can choose Restart Numbering on every Page, Spread, or Section. You can also have prefixes and suffixes around the Footnote Reference, the Footnote Text, or both.
In this case, I have a prefix of an open parenthesis and a suffix of a close parenthesis. And you can also pick from the pop-up menu on the right a Hair Space or a Thin Space. In fact, you can see these parentheses around the footnote references in this document. In the Formatting options you can set the Reference Number to automatically apply superscript, subscript, or regular text, and you can apply a specific character style if you want to. For Footnote Formatting, you can specify a paragraph style.
Here, I've set up a FootnoteText Paragraph Style and a Separator, and in this case, I have a period and a space. But there is also a pop-up menu if you want to pick something like a tab or an em space, or en space. And here you can see the separator in my footnotes with a period and a space coming before the footnote text. In the layout part of the dialog box, I start out with Spacing Options. So I can have the minimum space before the first footnote; so from the baseline of the text to the first footnote. I can also set spacing in between each footnote, and I can decide where the first baseline in the footnote area begins.
Should it be Fixed, x Height, Leading, Cap Height, or Ascent? All the same options I have for a regular text frame, and I can set a minimum value as well. I have options for where to place a footnote at the end of a story. So if the text doesn't go all the way to the bottom of a frame, should footnotes go to the bottom of the frame, or should they go right under the text? If I select to the bottom of text, they'll stay wherever the text ends. Otherwise, they'll go to the bottom of the frame. Then what should happen if a footnote doesn't fit in the available space? Should I allow it to be split to the next column or frame? And lastly, I have options for adding a rule above, either the first footnote in a column or for split footnotes.
That's where this rule comes from. So I know my document footnote options are set up the way I want them to be, and I'm ready to insert another footnote. So I will just click OK in the dialog box, I will click in my text frame where I want the reference to be, and I will go to Type > Insert Footnote. So right away, I see the new reference number, and it falls in line right after the old reference number. So my new footnote is number 4. And my text cursor goes right away down to the footnote area, and I can just start typing my footnote text.
Also, the Story Editor is a convenient place to work with footnotes because they appear next to their reference numbers. If I press Command+Y or Ctrl+Y to open the Story Editor, I can see these footnotes, right in context with their reference numbers. You can click and drag if you want to select and move a footnote, and it selects both the reference and the footnote text itself, or you can single-click to collapse or expand a footnote. You can also right-click on a footnote and choose Collapse or Expand All Footnotes in the Story Editor.
I will close the Story Editor and I will switch to a different document. Now, when it comes to working with footnotes, unfortunately, it might not take long for you to run up against some limitations of the feature. One that you might quickly stumble across is the fact that unless they come at the end of a story, footnotes always go at the bottom of a text frame, which means if you want them at the bottom of the page, the text frame needs to go to the bottom of the page. Other limitations of footnotes include the fact that Text Wrap does not affect them. So in my original document, if I zoom out and I select the art, this photo has Text Wrap applied to it to force all the text away from it.
If I drag it down, you can see my body text jump out of the way, but the footnote text ignores the text wrap. So you will have to find another way of moving that footnote text out of the way. And footnotes don't always work well with the Span and Split Paragraphs feature. Spans and Splits allow you to mix column layouts within a single text frame, but if you want footnotes to span across multiple columns, you're out of luck. Here, I'll look in this document where I have some footnotes and everything is in a single-column layout right now, But if I were to select this text and go to the Control panel menu and choose Span Columns, and I'll change the layout from a Single Column to Split Columns, and click OK, and you can see that two potentially undesirable things happened: first, the footnote associated with this text jumped from the bottom of the page right up under the split text, and second, there's no way to get this footnote to span across the columns; it's always going to be in the same column width as where its footnote reference is.
Even setting the footnote paragraph style to Span Columns won't work because the footnote sits in its own little frame beneath the regular text frame. Fortunately, there are some free scripts that will help you deal with footnote problems. A few of them are written by noted InDesign scripter Peter Kahrel and you can find them on his web site. If you work a lot with footnotes, definitely check out Peter's web site. In addition to solving problems with footnotes and spans and splits, Peter has scripts to make inline footnotes or several footnotes to run together in the same line, and for creating side notes, or margin notes, that appear alongside the referring text, instead of underneath it.
Now that we've seen how InDesign's Footnote options work, let's apply those options to some footnotes that come in with other manuscript from Microsoft Word.
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