How do you insert footnotes in Excel?

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Putting together an Excel spreadsheet to track your company’s revenues, expenditures, employee work hours or other details may seem like familiar territory, especially if you’ve used other Microsoft Office programs such as Word. Occasionally, Excel differs from these programs, however, and if you’ve looked for Word’s handy auto-footnoting feature, you may have felt a bit lost. It’s not present in Excel, but this doesn’t mean you can’t apply the same feature to your spreadsheets. Footnoting in Excel requires a simple workaround, but all of the options are available and ready to help you complete your spreadsheet with the desired footnotes.

1. Start Excel and open the spreadsheet you wish to use with footnoting.

2. Click the “Insert” tab, and then click the “Header & Footer” button on the ribbon.

3. Click the “Custom Footer” button in the middle of the Page Setup pop-up window.

4. Click into the section where you want the footnote details to appear on the Excel spreadsheet, such as “Left section.” Type the number to which the footnote will correspond. If this is your first footnote, type “1” and then type the footnote text.

5. Press “Enter” to drop to a new line. Type the next number, such as “2,” and type the footnote text. Continue until all footnotes are typed, then click the “OK” button to close the Footer window. Click “OK” once more to close the Page Setup window and return to the Excel spreadsheet.

6. Click the “File” tab and select “Print.” Because your footnotes won’t show up on the Excel spreadsheet, this is a way for you to check your work. Look at the bottom right of the preview window on the Print screen to see your footnotes. Click the “File” tab without clicking the “Print” button to return to the spreadsheet.

7. Scroll to the cell into which you want to add the first footnote. Click the cursor after the last character in the cell. Type the first footnote number, corresponding to the one in the footer. If this is the footnote closest to the beginning of the spreadsheet, it should be number one.

8. Highlight the number you just typed. Click the “Home” tab. Click the small “Down Arrow” in the bottom right corner of the Font section of the ribbon. Click on the “Superscript” box to insert a check mark, then click “OK.” The footnote takes on the traditional, small and slightly higher appearance compared to normal text.

9. Repeat the process to add a number for each of the footnotes you typed in the footer.


It may help if you know your footnote(s) in advance. That way, you can type them all into the Header & Footer window at once. This isn’t required, and you can always open the footnote and modify it at any time.Because footnotes are not auto-correlated as they are in other programs, if you delete, add or change the order of the footnotes, you’ll have to individually renumber them in the footer section and retype the superscript footnote numbers in the cells.



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