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Microsoft Word for Dissertations

Describes many of the special features of Microsoft Word you can use to make formatting your dissertation easier. While it's focused on dissertations, this information is useful for any long document.

Footnotes and Endnotes

To use Word's built-in footnote/endnote tool:

  1. Put your cursor where you want to insert your new footnote or endnote.
  2. In the References tab, click Insert Footnote or Insert Endnote.
  3. To adjust the settings of your footnote, including the numbering style, when to start and stop the numbering of your notes, where to place the note, etc..., right-click on any footnote/endnote and select Footnote... from the menu that appears.
    • If you wish, you can have your footnotes and endnotes restart their numbering in each chapter.  To do this, each chapter will need to be its own section (which they are, if you've been following our guidance).  See Adding Page Numbers for more information on creating sections.
    • Remember, too, that you can format the Style of your endnote/footnote as discussed in the Modifying a Style section. Unsurprisingly, footnotes use the "Footnote Text" style, and endnotes use the "Endnote Text" style. You may need to open the Styles Pane and set it to show "All Styles" to find and modify those styles.

Viewing All Your Footnotes in One Place

If you'd like to see all of your footnotes (or endnotes) in one place, here's how to do it:

  1. Go to the View tab and select Draft view (located near the left side of the ribbon)
  2. Go to the References tab and select Show Notes

That will open a view of all your notes so you can easily edit, remove extra paragraph/return characters, and make paragraph or indent spacing changes. Just avoid trying to globally change font sizes here -- if you "Select All" and change the font size, that will change the font size for the note text AND the superscript number.  Instead, remember that those two things are controlled by Styles -- Footnote Text (for the text) and Footnote Reference (for the footnote number). Modify those styles instead.


Microsoft Word has built-in tools for managing/formatting citations. They work fine for more modestly sized documents, but for a dissertation, it's likely that you'll need greater control and flexibility than Word provides.

We encourage you to take advantage of a dedicated citation/source management tool like EndNote, Zotero, or Mendeley. These citation management applications allow you to store your sources and easily insert properly-formatted citations into Word. They will automatically format both in-text citations and a bibliography.

You can learn more by visiting our Guide to Managing Citations with Zotero, Mendeley, and EndNote