7 Replies Latest reply on Feb 14, 2013 9:27 AM by David W. Goodrich

    Footnotes at the bottom of the page


      For anyone interested – putting the above title in the search window didn't produce anything I mean. And I welcome better ideas. I work with a Dutch language version, so I hope I use the right terms.


      Working on juridical textbooks with hundreds of sometimes long footnotes, I sometimes come to the next problem. It is possible to automatically let long footnotes break over two pages (see other threads to get explained how). But suppose there is another footnote marker a little after the 'long' one. This seems a bit too much for Indesign. Both markers and both footnotes go to the next page, leaving a big white gap, in mid-paragraph, at the bottom of the preceeding page.

      My solution:

      - cut the second footnote marker;

      - add the right footnote number as normal text (probably in superscript) at that spot;

      - paste the footnote marker at the end of the top paragraph on the next page;

      - make a text style with text color set to paper (white);

      - apply this text style to the pasted footnote marker.


      Now it looks like the footnote marker is on the first page, and the entire footnote is on the second page (the real footnote marker is invisible). If in a later stage footnotes are added or text overruns, you can easily look for the 'white' text style to adapt things.

      You can also use this trick when there is either space for the marker or for the footnote text at the bottom of a page but not for both, leaving at least one white line (although to the most of us, that will sound less urgent).


      But of course it would be nice if Adobe solves this in a future version (I already suggested them to do so.)

        • 1. Re: Footnotes at the bottom of the page
          TᴀW Adobe Community Professional & MVP

          If I've understood correctly, you're suggesting to have the footnote

          marker on one page, and the actual footnote on the facing page?! If that

          is necessary (and I understand why you might think so), I think it

          indicates that the book is poorly thought out. Such long footnotes

          should be either turned into endnotes, or even into appendices.


          Still, no harm in having the additional option, I suppose.


          Wait for the big overhaul of the footnote feature in a forthcoming

          InDesign release! (I've heard it's planned for version 18).



          • 2. Re: Footnotes at the bottom of the page
            Fritschy Level 1

            Well Ariel, I have always thoroughly disliked endnotes in any book I have read.

            The thinking out of a book is either to the author or to the publisher; I can just give advice, but in the end I can't ignore the hand that feeds me.

            I also thoroughly dislike white at the bottom of the page if it can be prevented. One line, okay; two lines, mwah; more hurts. (Publishers tend to agree with this...) Especially when left and right pages get unbalanced.

            Sometimes I long back to good old Ventura, which, with all its flaws, was a really book-oriented program (freedom with footnotes, multiple indexes). I hope InDesign 7 will bring this!

            • 3. Re: Footnotes at the bottom of the page
              MW Design Level 5

              I will use VP whenever possible. So I feel for ya.


              These days VP is relegated to publications I need to update and have never been moved into ID. Most of the world has moved on once Corel killed one of the best applications for books and manuals.


              Ah, the days.



              • 4. Re: Footnotes at the bottom of the page
                TᴀW Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                Oh, I also dislike endnotes -- especially when they're very short

                (ibid., p. 2) and could have been put into the text itself.


                However, what you're describing is very long footnotes, and in such a

                case I prefer endnotes (or an appendix), since it is text that I will be

                spending several minutes reading, from the sound of it. Pages with 2

                lines of main text and the rest of the page taken over by a footnote is

                offputting, to my eyes.


                At any rate, I cannot recall ever seeing a book with the footnotes

                indicator on on page, and the actual footnote on another page!



                • 5. Re: Footnotes at the bottom of the page
                  Fritschy Level 1

                  I agree footnotes of 30-40 lines are not a good idea, but footnotes of about 8 lines are quite common in the kind of books I mentioned. Do you think it is acceptable that a paragraph breaks to another page with 8 white lines below it? Okay, 8 white lines after a paragraph, because you have problems fitting in a figure or a table, that sometimes can't be prevented. What would you prefer as a reader, occasionally having to go to the next page to read the footnote, or having to look for the end of the chapter every time?

                  By the way, Word has no problems with putting the indicator on one page and the text on the next. I'm not considering making up my books with Word (or going back to Ventura), but it proves that it is possible. I'm pretty certain that in Indesign this is not intended as a new standard, but is simply a bug or an unfinished item.

                  And, certainly from the pre-dtp-age (that's where I come from), I remember several books with indicator on one page and text on the next. Took a lot of puzzling and headache, back than.

                  • 6. Re: Footnotes at the bottom of the page
                    TᴀW Adobe Community Professional & MVP

                    An 8 line footnote will not normally take 8 lines of text: usually, the

                    type size is smaller and so is the leading in footnotes.


                    Personally, I don't mind a gap of up to 4 text lines or so if necessary

                    to keep the footnote indicator and the start of the footnote on the same

                    page (obviously, once the footnote starts on the page, it can flow on to

                    the next page; and this InDesign can cope with!). Although I would never

                    have such a gap in the middle of paragraph normally, in this case,

                    because there is also a footnote at the bottom of the page, it does not

                    stand out so much to my eye.


                    I didn't know that Word allows what you say. I'm surprised that it does.


                    This is what the Chicago Manual of Style (15th ed.) has to say about

                    your problem: "In a work containing many long footnotes, it may be

                    difficult to fit them onto the pages they pertain to, especially in an

                    illustrated work. A basic requirement for all footnotes is that they at

                    least begin on the page on which they are referenced. Several long

                    footnotes with their references falling close together toward the end of

                    a page present a major problem in page makeup. There is also the matter

                    of appearance; a page consisting almost exclusively of footnotes is

                    daunting. For some remedies, see 16.36–40."


                    And the first remedy (16.36): "Avoiding overlong footnotes: Lengthy,

                    discursive notes should be reduced or integrated into the text..."


                    Obviously, nobody can force you to take this advice. But you're asking

                    the InDesign team to spend days and or months of programming to

                    accommodate your editor or publisher's bad practice in allowing such

                    long footnotes in the first place, despite what I think is a consensus

                    that apart from the "daunting look," this will also cause "a major

                    problem in page makeup." And your solution is to have the footnote begin

                    on a different page from its text indicator, whereas Chicago says "A

                    basic requirement for all footnotes is that they at least begin on the

                    page on which they are referenced." Many readers would, I think, agree

                    with that assertion!


                    Anyway, the more flexibility the better, as far as I'm concerned. But I

                    seems to me that it's wrong to expect the InDesign team to offer a

                    solution to a problem that is caused by bad editorial practice. Fix the

                    editors, not the programmers!



                    • 7. Re: Footnotes at the bottom of the page
                      David W. Goodrich Level 3

                      Arïel wrote:


                      Fix the editors, not the programmers!


                      Right on!  Footnotes are by definition ancillary material, and should not get in the reader's way.  A good editor will insist really long footnotes go elsewhere (endnotes, appendix, a separate publication?), while three notes in one line or sentence are apt to look silly (or worse, like cut-and-paste "writing").  Unfortunately, good editors are getting harder to find — I've known journal editors to excuse ungrammatical sentences with the standard "the author's views are their own" clause.