Quick Fix: Large space before footnotes in MS Word

It’s frustrating having programs screw up on you when there’s a pressing deadline to meet. Today while editing my 40-page behemothof a PW report (before adding all figures, tables and double-spacing and enlarging the fonts) I was unlucky enough to encounter this issue:

After the footnote divider line, but before the footnotes themselves, there would be a huge expanse of blank space. It was wreaking havoc on my formatting and turning all my tables into multiple-paged impossible-to-read clusters of cells.

Turns out this is caused by something called a footnote separator which you have to go to Draft mode (under the View tab in MS Word 07 and up) to edit it.

  1. Go to the View tab, then choose Draft.
  2. Go to the References tab and click Show Footnotes. (On Macs, go to ViewFootnotes – thanks to commenter Gerard for spotting this)
  3. In the drop-down list that appears in the Footnotes area, choose Footnote Separator.
  4. Delete any extra spaces, carriage returns etc. It’s handy to have “show non-printing characters” switched on.
  5. Repeat for the other one – I think it was Continuous Footnote Separator.
  6. Go back to View and switch back to Print Layout.

It’s gone!

If this was helpful, let me know in a comment! P.S. Shameless plug for my new blog, where I continue to write posts about life, design, usability, the tech industry, language, cooking and other little geeky things.

Update: Commenter GE suggests that copying and pasting your entire document into a new file may also get rid of the problem.

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111 thoughts on “Quick Fix: Large space before footnotes in MS Word

  1. Can I just say….THANK YOU!!!!!!! Finally a clear answer to this problem. Like the others here, I am facing a deadline and was getting really frustrated about this. Other answers on the net were not very clear. May the good karma come back your way two fold!!

  2. Wonderful. I was getting upset about this.

    Actually I also tried something else (I read about it in a Forum) which is selecting the entire doc , then do File New and paste everything there. The problem was apparently solved, but it is good to know how to actually fix – say, control – it.

    Thanks.

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