Renumber footnotes



I created a Word 2007 document by copying and pasting several smaller Word
2003 documents into one large document. Each of the smaller documents had
several footnotes in it. When I combined all the documents together, the
footnote numbers in the large document are discontinuous. I accepted all
changes, deleted and recreated various footnotes, but nothing worked. Any
advice how to renumer all the footnotes in the new document?

Pesach Shelnitz

Hi Naomi,

It seems to me that you copied section breaks into your new document. It
this is the case, the footnote numbering that you are seeing is a result of
the fact that the footnote numbering in each section is independent of the
footnote numbering in the other sections. You can solve this problem by
removing all the section breaks or by resetting the footnote number in each
section. If you want to use the latter approach, perform the following steps:
1) Place the cursor in the first footnote that has the wrong number.
2) On the Reference tab, in the Footnotes group, click the dialog box
launcher (the small diagonal arrow in the lower right-hand corner of the
Footnotes group).
3) In the Footnotes dialog box, in Start at, type the number that you want
the footnote at the cursor to have.
4) Click Apply.
5) Repeat these steps for the next footnote that has the wrong number.

Suzanne S. Barnhill

Or you could just select "Continuous" and "Apply to: Whole document" in the
Footnote and Endnote dialog.

Suzanne S. Barnhill
Microsoft MVP (Word)
Words into Type
Fairhope, Alabama USA
Apr 25, 2011
Reaction score
Hello everyone,

I ran into a similar, although not exactly the same problem as Naomi. I was pasting in an old document into a new template for formatting purposes. I was using Word 2010 for PC. I just thought I'd share the workaround I used because it took me quite a while (and I have been doing relatively advanced formatting with Word, including notes to some extent, for the past few years). First are some notes about my attempts and then my workaround.

My Attempts:

Before coming to this site I had already tried all solutions mentioned above, but I went through and checked again to remove section breaks, etc. Oddly, the apply-to-all setting did not work, and apply-to-section and apply-to-selected text had no changes on the number order (or the type of character). Basically these notes were locked into some kind of formatting that I have not seen before. The creator of the original document had used some custom marks to create changes in the footnote numbering at various places (he was creating subnotes manually, such as 62ii and 62iii by putting two notes next to each other and using the custom marks). I was unable to remove those custom marks despite numerous strategies. I tried re-pasting in the notes from the original document without any formatting and also clearing the formatting of the note numbers and text, but no luck. I tried converting all footnotes to endnotes, but was unable to fix the numbering problems, and somehow all notes changed from Arabic to roman numerals (and despite several types of attempts, I was unable to change those roman numerals to Arabic numerals or anything else). I converted back to footnotes and was unable to make changes. I tried many other things without luck. I tried solutions both in print view and also in draft view with all notes showing. One interesting observation was that when I turned on the paragraph marks and looked at the notes in draft view, some of the footnote numbers had a dotted gray box around them, and others, I think in all cases the problematic ones, did not have that gray box. I am assuming this was related to the problem but I was unable to locate information about that formatting issue.


In any case, I can't even call this a solution; rather, it is a somewhat cumbersome workaround, but it was faster than continuing to research and apply solutions that were not working. The workaround was to simply create new notes. I had to do this for 30 notes, but even if the number were higher I probably still would have used this "solution" instead of continuing to research. To be clear for anyone who needs the info:

1. Go to problematic note in text and put cursor immediately to the left of it.

2. Insert a new footnote and make the number continuous with the previous numbering.

3. Copy just the text (not the footnote number) of the problematic footnote and paste it into the new footnote you just created at the bottom of the page.

4. Highlight the problematic footnote number in the text (not at the bottom of the page) and delete it.

5. Go to the next note and repeat.

Better Solution?

If anyone has any ideas for an actual solution to change the formatting without having to create new notes, I would be very interested for future reference for myself, and for others who are looking at this post in the future. I was indeed stumped by Word this time! Cheers! :)

Jul 13, 2012
Reaction score
None of these methods worked for me in Word 2010 except for Rocky's, which is very slow and cumbersome if there are a lot of footnotes. Here is a "nuclear option" that is faster:

Edit --> Select All, and copy the text of your entire document. Then open up a new Word document and paste the whole thing into it; SAVE:fool:; and get rid of the old file. The footnotes should renumber into the correct order. This seems to reset everything, and will fix a lot of these weird formatting issues.
Apr 25, 2011
Reaction score
Thanks for sharing that Mundel. I don't remember if I tried the copy/paste but I'm glad it worked for you. I usually try that as a first solution when I come across something stubborn (and I usually try all of the paste-special options, except for plain text because that usually would lose notes or other formatting). If I ever come across this one again I will be trying that first because you're right, any substantial number of notes and it is a huge pain. Good luck with yours.

Ask a Question

Want to reply to this thread or ask your own question?

You'll need to choose a username for the site, which only take a couple of moments. After that, you can post your question and our members will help you out.

Ask a Question