MSWord : footnote numbering gone wonky.

Yet another Word question.

I’ve got a document with a lot of footnotes.

The footnote numbering is skipping one number.

It goes from footnote 102 to footnote 104.

If I delete 102 entirely, then footnote 104 changes to 103, so it goes from 101 to 103

Any idea how to fix this? It’s as if there’s a ghost footnote in there, throwing out the numbering.


Step 0. Most important information in this entire thread: SAVE AN EXTRA COPY somewhere safe, in case… Yeah. In case.

My opinion for a possible step 1: Do you still have a copy of your document that comes from before the footnoting got messed up? Maybe you can (a) save an extra copy of that known-OK version before you change anything, thus giving yourself a “safety net” to revert to, then (b) starting from the point where new material begins in your new document, copy the material up to but not including the first new footnote. Paste that into the older, non-messed-up document. Add the new footnote by hand. Then copy & paste the section up to but not including the second new footnote, then add second new footnote by hand again. And so on. If one pasted section introduces the problem again, use “undo”, and retype the offending section by hand.

I haven’t thought this through very thoroughly.

An easier way to hunt down where it goes sideways would be to insert a number of section breaks. Then go into Footnotes and set Numbering to Restart Each Section. If the first five sections go smoothly 1,2,3,4,5 but the sixth section goes 1,2,4,5 you’ve got a spot to examine. If necessary you can set Numbering to Restart Each Page for a finer grain pass.

Once you have a start point, tear it out and retype or make changes.

It’s possible that there is a “hidden” footnote somewhere. Try turning on Reveal Formatting and look for a footnote field at the end of another line. MSWord is really terrible about document layout and handling footnotes and bibliography.


Click CTRL-G
Under “Go to what” select “footnote”
Under “Enter footnote number” enter 103 (or whatever the missing footnote number is)
See if it takes you someplace that will help you identify if there is really a footnote there

Thanks for the suggestions, everyone. I found the missing footnote!

I deleted when “Track Changes” was on it stayed hidden in a bubble until I turned Track Changes back on and “accepted” that particular change. That finally eliminated the footnote and the numbering went back to normal.