Today, we’re going to modify the style of footnotes and endnotes in Microsoft Word. We’re also going to modify the style of the superscripted reference numbers, letters, and symbols in the text. Style includes font, font size, color, emphasis (italics, bold, underline), alignment, spacing, and indentation.
Plus, the bonus section at the end shows how to delete or modify the separator line above footnotes and endnotes.
Important Note: These steps only work for footnotes and endnotes created with Word’s footnote and endnote tools. For a full tutorial, please see “How to Insert Footnotes and Endnotes in Microsoft Word.”
This tutorial is available as a YouTube video showing all the steps in real time.
Watch more than 200 other writing-related software tutorials on my YouTube channel.
The images below are from Word for Microsoft 365. The steps will also work for Word 2021, Word 2019, Word 2016, Word 2013, and Word 2010. However, your interface may look slightly different in those older versions of the software.
How to Modify the Style of Footnotes and Endnotes
- Select the Home tab in the ribbon.
- Select the dialog box launcher in the Styles group.
- Select the Manage Styles button in the Styles pane.
- Select Alphabetical in the Sort order menu in the Manage Styles dialog box.
- Select the style you want to modify from the Select a style to edit menu.
- Footnote Text
- Footnote Reference (superscripted number, letter, or symbol in the text)
- Endnote Text
- Endnote Reference (superscripted number, letter, or symbol in the text)
- Select the Modify button.
- Select new styles from the eight formatting options in the Modify Style dialog box:
- Font size
- Font color
- Line spacing
- Spacing before and after
Important Note: The Font, Font size, Emphasis, and Font Color are the only options available for the Footnote Reference and Endnote Reference styles.
- Ensure that Automatically Update is not checked. If Automatically Update is checked, you won’t be able to manually change the style of individual footnotes or endnotes.
- Ensure that Only in this document is selected to limit your custom style to your current document.
- Select the OK button to close the Modify Style dialog box.
- Select another style to change or select the OK button to close the Manage Styles dialog box.
- Select the X to close the Styles pane.
Your new footnote or endnote style should appear immediately.
How to Delete or Modify the Footnote or Endnote Separator Line
- Select the View tab in the ribbon.
- Select Draft in the Views group to switch to the draft view. (Word normally opens in the Print Layout view.)
- Select the References tab in the ribbon.
- Select Show Notes in the Footnotes group.
- (Optional Step) If you have footnotes and endnotes, choose View footnote area or View endnote area followed by the OK button in the Show Notes dialog box. (This dialog box won’t appear if you only have footnotes or endnotes.)
It is not possible to modify the style of the footnote separator and endnote separator at the same time.
- Select Footnote Separator or Endnote Separator from the menu in the Footnotes pane at the bottom of the screen.
- Select and delete the separator line or use the options in the font Mini toolbar to modify the style. (You can also use the options in the Font group in the Home tab.)
Here are a few tips:
- Increasing the font size will increase the line thickness.
- Changing the font color will change the line color.
- Highlighting can be applied to the line.
- The bold font option can be applied to the line.
- After modifying the separator line, select the Print Layout button at the bottom of the screen (or in the View tab) to return to the Print Layout view.
Your separator line modifications should appear immediately.
How to Restart Footnote Numbers in Microsoft Word (PC & Mac)
How to Convert Individual Footnotes to Endnotes in Microsoft Word (and Individual Endnotes to Footnotes)
How to Insert Citations in Microsoft Word
Three Ways to Insert Superscripts and Subscripts in Microsoft Word
Updated April 23, 2023