Position of Footnote on Page

2018-10-22 20:58:41

This question isn't about a case that I have a problem with; it's just a purely hypothetical thing that I've been thinking about.

Suppose you are writing a book or maybe an article for a journal. At the bottom of a page - the last line - you have a sentence that you want to put a footnote on. However, because you're on the very final line, if you put in place the space for a footnote (even a one line footnote), then the original line would move to the start of the next page. As such, the footnote should then be on the next page... freeing up the space for the line to return to its original space!

Basically, my question is just 'what do you do here'? I would imagine you put the footnote marker on the sentence in the original place (bottom of page), and then the footnote goes at the bottom of the next page. This is just my guess though.

Sorry about the lack of tags: if you can think of any others that I should have tagged it with, then feel free to add them in! :)


  • Choice 1: Move the last line and the footnote to the next page. This will leave a little blank space on the original page. If you want an even bottom margin, increase the line spacing, or move some text from the previous page to the current page, which means moving text from the page before that, etc, and reformatting the entire chapter.

    Choice 2: Put the footnote on the facing page.

    I'd vote against any solution that puts the footnote marker -- the asterisk or superscript or whatever -- on a right-hand (recto) page and the footnote text on the following page. That would be confusing to the reader.

    2018-10-22 21:26:57
  • Usually you should avoid orphaned footnotes. I do not remember ever having seen a professionally published book where the footnote started on another page as the text it referred to.

    But this is something the publisher and their typesetter or book designer take care of. It shouldn't concern any writer, who has to hand in a plain, often even markup-free manuscript.

    If you self publish, you have several options, all of which have disadvantages:

    change image size

    If your book has images, graphics, tables, or inset text boxes that your main text flows around, an easy solution is changing the size of one of these objects preceding the problematic passage. If your book does not have these, you must change aspects of the text itself:

    increase or decrease letter spacing

    Sometimes this makes a lonely word slip up one line. If you change letter spacing by between 0.1 to 0.5 point, most readers won't notice, but if you look at your book with squinted eyes, that paragraph might look a bit

    2018-10-22 21:53:14
  • Cheat and edit your text. Or keep combing backwards through your layout, either pushing a few lines forward or bringing a few lines back, until your footnote and the referent are on the same page.

    2018-10-22 22:20:44
  • I've seen this situation in Bibles handled by 'forcing' the annotated text to the following page, leaving a blank space at the bottom of the page.

    If this looks 'off', you may want to distribute this blank space between the lines of text or halve it, top and bottom.

    2018-10-22 22:45:15