How to Add Footnotes in Google Docs


Matthew Burleigh

Adding footnotes in Google Docs is a simple process. Open your document, click on the point in the text where you want to insert a footnote, then go to the top menu and select “Insert,” followed by “Footnote.” A number will appear in the text, and you can type your reference or comment in the newly created footnote at the bottom of the page.

Once you’ve added a footnote, it will be automatically numbered, and this number will link the in-text reference to the footnote itself. This neat feature maintains organization within your document and makes it easy for readers to navigate between your main text and your supplementary notes.


Ever stumbled upon those tiny numbers in texts that lead to golden nuggets of information at the bottom of the page? Those, my friends, are footnotes, and they’re more than just miniature digits tucked away like secret agents in your document. Footnotes are essential tools for providing extra information, citing sources, or explaining complex terms without cluttering the main body of your text. They are the unsung heroes of clarity and credibility in many written works, especially academic and research papers.

So, why should you care about adding footnotes in Google Docs? For starters, if you’re a student, researcher, or anyone who values precision and thoroughness in writing, mastering footnotes is crucial. It shows you’ve done your homework and gives due credit to the sources that have informed your work. Plus, it can save you from the dreaded claws of plagiarism.

And for anyone collaborating on a document, Google Docs is a favorite go-to for its user-friendly features and its cloud-based nature, allowing multiple users to edit simultaneously. But don’t sweat it; adding footnotes in Google Docs is a breeze, and you’re about to find out just how easy it is.

Related: How to Bookmark in Google Docs

A Step by Step Tutorial

Before diving in, understand that these steps will guide you through adding footnotes to your Google Docs, ensuring your document is well-referenced and professionally presented.

Step 1: Place your cursor where you want the footnote.

Click on the exact spot in the text where you want your footnote to link from.

This step is crucial as it ensures that the footnote corresponds directly to the piece of text you’re referring to. It’s like planting a flag where you want to build your castle.

Step 2: Go to the “Insert” menu.

Navigate to the top menu bar and click on “Insert.”

Here is where the magic begins. The ‘Insert’ menu is the gateway to adding various elements to your document, footnotes being one of them.

Step 3: Select “Footnote.”

Choose “Footnote” from the dropdown menu.

This action tells Google Docs, “Hey, I need you to put in a little number here and create space at the bottom of the page for some extra info.”

Step 4: Type your footnote content.

After the number appears, start typing your footnote at the bottom of the page.

The footnote section is where you get to whisper the secrets or additional details that didn’t make it into the main conversation of your text.


Increased Credibility

Adding footnotes can bolster the credibility of your document.

Footnotes allow you to cite sources or offer additional information, which can greatly enhance your document’s authority and the trustworthiness of your content.

Enhanced Readability

Footnotes can make your main text cleaner and more readable.

By offloading additional details to the bottom of the page, you prevent the main body of your text from becoming overcrowded with parenthetical information or digressions, thus improving the flow and readability of your document.

Dynamic Referencing

Footnotes offer a dynamic way to reference materials.

Because they’re numbered and linked, footnotes make it easy for readers to jump back and forth between your text and the additional information. This interactive element is a neat feature that keeps readers engaged.


Potential Overuse

Footnotes can be overused, which can be distracting.

If you go overboard with footnotes, your page can become overwhelmed with references, making it look cluttered and potentially confusing to the reader.

Limited Formatting

Google Docs has limited formatting options for footnotes.

Unlike some other word processors, Google Docs doesn’t allow for a lot of customization in the appearance of footnotes, which can be frustrating if you’re looking to tailor them to a specific formatting style.

Interruption of Flow

Footnotes can sometimes interrupt the flow of reading.

For some readers, having to move their attention away from the main text to the bottom of the page can disrupt their reading experience, especially if done frequently.

Additional Information

While the process of adding footnotes in Google Docs is straightforward, there are some additional tips and tricks that can make your life easier. For instance, Google Docs automatically numbers your footnotes sequentially, which is handy if you add or remove one—it updates all the following numbers accordingly. And if you’re wondering about how to keep your footnotes on the same page as their references, don’t fret. Google Docs takes care of that by default, ensuring that your footnotes always appear on the same page as the corresponding text.

When dealing with a lengthy document, remember that navigating between text and footnotes can become tiresome. A little tip is to use the ‘Insert comment’ feature for notes you might need to act upon during your editing process, reserving footnotes for the final draft.

Finally, it’s worth mentioning that footnotes in Google Docs can also be converted to endnotes if required. Although this isn’t a built-in feature, several add-ons are available that can do the job, should you prefer your references to appear at the end of the document rather than at the bottom of each page.


  1. Place your cursor where you want the footnote.
  2. Go to the “Insert” menu.
  3. Select “Footnote.”
  4. Type your footnote content.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I customize the formatting of footnotes in Google Docs?

The formatting options for footnotes in Google Docs are limited, but you can adjust the font size and style in the same way you would for the main text.

Will the footnotes stay on the same page as their references?

Yes, Google Docs automatically keeps footnotes on the same page as their in-text references.

Can I convert footnotes to endnotes in Google Docs?

Directly, no, but there are third-party add-ons available that can convert footnotes to endnotes in Google Docs.

Does Google Docs renumber footnotes if I add or delete one?

Yes, Google Docs automatically renumbers footnotes if you add or delete one to maintain the correct sequence.

Can I add footnotes on a Google Docs mobile app?

Yes, you can add footnotes in the Google Docs mobile app with a similar process to the web version.


Footnotes are a staple in many forms of writing, particularly those that require a formal approach to citations and additional commentary. Google Docs makes this process relatively straightforward, which is a testament to the platform’s commitment to user-friendliness and functionality. Remember that while footnotes are beneficial for clarifying and citing information, they should be used judiciously to avoid disrupting the reader’s flow. The next time you’re working on an essay, report, or any document that demands extra details, embrace the power of footnotes to back up your claims and elaborate on complex points. Just like seasoning in a dish, the right amount of footnotes can perfect your document.

With these guidelines, anyone from a middle schooler working on their first big research paper to a seasoned academic can effectively use footnotes in Google Docs to enhance their writing.

Matthew Burleigh

Matthew Burleigh has been writing tech content online for more than ten years. He enjoys writing about Google Docs in addition to many other applications and devices and has cumulatively covered Google’s word-processing application in hundreds of different articles.

He has been published on dozens of popular websites, and his works have accumulated millions of pageviews.
While focused primarily on tutorials and guides for popular electronics like the iPhone and iPad, as well as common applications like Microsoft Word, Powerpoint, and Excel, he covers topics across the entire technology spectrum.

You can read his bio here.

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