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Use footnotes for notes to yourself

Scrivener’s auto numbering during Compile is not confined to chapters, or parts, acts and scenes, or tables and figures, etc.

Scrivener supports two notes streams – inline and Inspector linked footnotes – either of which can be used to form endnotes and the numbering of these are also handled during the Compile process.

Exporting to endnotes

Once they are output via Compile, the note streams only differ in position:

  • Footnotes appear within the text (inline) or (for linked) at the foot of the page on which the relevant text appears.
  • Endnotes appear at the end of the book, or at the end of chapters, or wherever you want – Scrivener lets you decide.

Footnotes are only for non-fiction books?

Books like Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled need to credit sources, and footnotes are the accepted way of incorporating this information, without cluttering up the text.

Stephen Fry’s The Ode Less Travelled: Footnote 5 on page 17

You might have assumed footnotes are only relevant for worthy texts – non-fiction books, full of references to other material.

Not so! Footnotes can serve as an editing tool whatever you are writing.

What if you need footnotes for real?

If you will need ‘real’ footnotes in the final manuscript, the ones you use for editing simply need to include some distinguishing text, like ‘NOTE TO SELF’ or ‘NOT FOR PUBLICATION’ or, using fewer characters, ‘ZZZ’!.

Why use footnotes rather than comments?

For onscreen editing, the Comments are more effective, being positioned inside the Inspector pane, alongside the relevant text.

I tend to use footnotes when I want to edit on paper, or I’m reviewing another writer’s work and they want to see my comments on paper.

For myself, with the notes appear on the same page as the relevant text, I process them by leaving myself handwritten notes which I then action next time I am on the computer. For my mentee writers, it’s up to them how they process my comments; I only see the revised version once they’ve completed another edit.

It is important to decide ahead of time whether to use notes or comments, because, although it is possible, via Edit / Transformations, to transform Annotations into Comments and vice versa, and Inline Footnotes into Inspector Footnotes, and vice versa, you can’t transform notes into comments, or vice versa.

Edit / Transformations

For this blog post, I’m illustrating the process for Inspector linked footnotes. The process for inline footnotes is similar; indeed, these are similar to inline annotations in lots of ways. I tend not to use them as they clutter up my text!

How are Inspector linked footnotes inserted?

Easy. Position the cursor where you want the marker for the note to appear and select Insert / Footnote.

A small box will appear in the Inspector pane. (If the Inspector pane isn’t already open, it will open for you!) Put the text for your note in that box.


Notice that, in the Inspector pane, while comments are on a yellow background, notes are on grey.

The note is anchored to your chosen spot in the text.

  • If you move the text, the note goes with it.
  • If you delete the text, you delete the note too.

Both actions affect the numbering, but Scrivener takes care of that for you, during Compile – and there is an option not to change the numbering during a Compile, if that suits you better (see below!).

Footnote numbering options

The Footnote format (and the one for Endnotes too) is set in the Footnotes & Comments pane.

The default for numbering is 1, 2, 3, … but other options are available. It makes sense to choose a different system for any second note stream, e.g. i, ii, iii, … for the endnotes.

Numbering options

Which one you use is entirely up to you, and Scrivener does the counting for you.

The ‘Footnotes & Comments’ pane also gives options as to how the notes will appear on the page/screen. They are self-explanatory and these default options work fine for me. I would only change them if I wanted to see something different on the page/screen.

Footnotes & comments pane

Seeing the compiled footnote numbers in the Inspector

Selecting View / Text Editing / Show Compiled Footnote Numbers in Inspector …

… and then File / Compile reveals the current numbering of your notes.

More examples | Footnotes as an Editing Tool

Most likely, you’ll insert more notes, and maybe delete some. You might also move whole chunks of text around, taking their notes with them. If you do this, the numbering in the Inspector may show note numbers that appear out of sequence; they are for now, but will be renumbered next time you compile.

However, if you select View / Text Editing / Prompt Before Updating Footnote Numbers before you next compile, you will be prompted … and can avoid updating the numbering in the Inspector.

Option to avoid renumbering

This speeds up the compile process, although this is only noticeable if you have a lot of notes.

This option not to update the footnote numbering might also be useful if you have sent material out for review but are continuing to work on the manuscript and adding/deleting notes. Keeping the footnote numbering static in the Inspector will help you to locate notes on the reviewer’s version within your own.

More examples


What output options are available when you Compile?

The options are listed in the Options pane.

Compile options

I usually tick the ‘Remove comments’ and ‘Remove annotations’ boxes as these only contain material to be seen and processed by me.

  • If you don’t want the notes to be output at all, tick the ‘Remove footnotes’ box; it does not ‘remove’ as in ‘delete’ but just excludes them from the output.
  • If you’d rather output the notes as endnotes, tick the ‘Export inspector footnotes as endnotes’ box. Your notes will then be listed at the end of your document, or wherever you have positioned your ‘Endnote Marker’.

What is the Endnote marker?

If you want to position endnotes not at the end but elsewhere, there is an option to position a placeholder wherever you want this to happen.

Insert / Endnote Marker inserts this text:


It’s simply a placeholder which triggers output of the endnotes.

How do you delete a footnote?

Deleting a footnote

Easy. Click on the X in the Footnote box in the Inspector.

Scrivener will adjust the numbering, if you want it done, the next time you Compile.

Questions about Footnotes? Need a helping hand? Want a demo?

To watch me go through the process of processing notes or to ask any questions, book a Simply Scrivener Special.

To help me to prepare, you could also complete this short questionnaire.

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Thinking about self publishing?

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  • Graham Bull

    12 September 2021 at 04:06

    Helpful article Anne. On scrivener’s book templates do you know if one can place Reference section and Index section after endnotes with headers on endnotes section; impossible to do on words,Yet every book I have in my library is structured like this.

      • Graham Bull

        20 September 2021 at 09:52

        Thanks, Ann, the best reply I have got from various people and on various websites.

  • Pingback:Scrivener ASVR Workshop 2020 | Lorelle Writes

    23 July 2020 at 16:49
  • Olivier Da Lage

    8 February 2020 at 12:56

    How do you have a first footnoote, say with a * (who is the writer, for example), and start the numbering from the second footnote?

      • Olivier Da Lage

        10 February 2020 at 09:12

        No problem. Thanks a lot. If it’s not possible, I’ll continue doing it with Word after exporting the draft.

  • KevinBrown

    20 December 2019 at 22:51

    The instruction above say: “Selecting View / Text Editing / Show Compiled Footnote Numbers”

    However, when I select “View”, there is no option in the pull-down menu for “Text Editing”. I see Scrivenings, Corkboard, Outline, et cetera. But not “Text Editing”.

    How does one get to “View / Text Editing”?

  • Gary Gauthier

    19 August 2019 at 00:33

    I am interested in how to cause Scrivener to avoid duplication of identical footnotes. Can Scrivener be made to use “ibid” for identical footnotes? How would one do this?

  • Sam

    1 August 2019 at 01:51

    The footnote is very good

  • Robert

    30 July 2019 at 10:44

    Another great blog post. I do have one question though about the endnotes at say, the end of a chapter. Can you have multiple chapter endnotes, or will there always be only one space available for endnotes regardless of its position within the manuscript?

      • Robert

        31 July 2019 at 20:55

        Neither have I. Using the Windows Beta, so some things might not be working yet. I know it doesn’t work in the Windows 1.9.x series.

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