Creating Word footnotes using Author-it

August 26, 2008

Here’s the scenario: Your document must contain footnotes in the Word output; for example, references to legal decisions, government legislation, or scientific papers.

So how do you go about it in Author-it? Essentially, there are three steps:

  1. Create a new hyperlink template just for Word Footnotes (you could create popups or expanding text on the same template for HTML outputs, but I won’t cover this in these instructions).
  2. Create a topic for each reference.
  3. Create a hyperlink based on the Footnote template for each piece of text where you want to place the footnote reference mark.


The instructions below:

  • are based on Author-it v5
  • create a footnote section at the bottom of each page in the Word document where the reference occurs, NOT a footnote section at the end of a chapter.

Create a new hyperlink template

  1. Create a new hyperlink based on (none).
  2. Select the Make this object an object template check box.
  3. Enter Footnote template as the object’s Description.
  4. Click Apply.
  5. While still on the General tab, clear the check boxes for the Help and Web outputs—Print should be the only selected check box. You may need to click each check box twice to get a completely clear check box.
  6. Go to the Print tab.
  7. Select the Footnote option.
  8. Select an Automatic Numbering style or create a custom style (see http://www.author-it.com/kc/index.mv?1203 for details). In this example, select 1, 2, 3…
  9. Click OK.

Create a topic for each reference

The text for each footnote must be in its own topic. You can ignore the topic template or just use ‘Normal’—it won’t be used.

Tip: If you have a lot of footnotes, create a separate folder for the footnote topics and their links.

  1. Create a topic for each footnote. NOTE: There’s a limit of 500 characters (see “Update 28 August 2008” below).
  2. For each topic, add the text you want to display in the footnote.

Create a hyperlink for the relevant text

  1. Go to the topic where you want the footnote reference to appear in the Word output.
  2. Select the word or phrase immediately after which you want the footnote reference number to go. Include any quote marks, if necessary.
  3. Link to the footnote topic you created earlier using the Footnote Template.

Publish to Word and you should have a nice set of footnotes.

Update 26 August 2008: Interestingly, someone on the Author-it User Forum list had a problem today with Word footnotes. It seems her 10+ line footnote was disappearing off the page and not appearing on the subsequent page. She wanted to know what happened to it and how to fix it. The ever-knowledgeable Char James-Tanny replied with a link to a slew of possible solutions to Word footnote problems from the Microsoft Knowledge Base (KB article 212071).

Update 28 August 2008: Gretchen from Author-it posted to the Author-it User Forum that there’s a limit of 500 characters for a footnote. She referred to the Author-it Knowledge Center article (http://www.author-it.com/kc/index.mv?364) which states:

Footnote: the unformatted text of the destination topic is inserted as a footnote.

Note: Footnotes are limited to a maximum of 500 characters and cannot contain multiple paragraphs or special formatting. If the destination topic contains more than 500 characters, only the first 500 characters are used.


  1. Thank you, this is great. Is there any way to create a link in the footnote? I created a link in the topic but it is not displaying as a link.

  2. Hi Dawn

    I’m pretty sure you can’t have links in footnotes in Word. In fact, it’s hard to have anything much more than plain text in Word footnotes, whether you’re using Author-it or not.


  3. Thanks Rhonda,

    When I added the footnote directly to Word it was added as a link (it’s a webpage) but when I added it using AIT (as stated in this article) it added it in plain text. I added a link to the topic but it still only displays as a plain text.


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