Thanks for coming to, the world's #1 resource for all things InDesign!

Split Footnote Special Character

Alert InDesign user Tim Gouder e-mailed us about an obscure special character he had encountered in InDesign:

The blue triangle indicates a split footnote. Here's a zoomed-out view so you can see the footnote text that's being split:

Footnotes will split (that is, continue) to additional columns and frames if two conditions are met. First, the Allow Split Footnotes checkbox in the Type > Document Footnote Options dialog box (in the Layout tab) has to be enabled (it is by default). Second, a footnote of two or more lines can't completely fit under the line of body text containing the footnote reference.

(This post isn't really about footnotes, just that triangle thingie. Use our Search field to find our many other posts about using footnotes in InDesign.)

Tim wondered if the triangle could be considered a candidate for our popular Guide to Special Characters in InDesign. Why, of course! I've updated the PDF; you can download the latest version here.

Technically, though, it's not a "special character"?the kind that can be viewed/hidden by choosing Show/Hide Hidden Characters from the Type menu. It's more of a frame property, like how the In and Out Ports on a text frame change to indicate if the frame is part of a thread or if there's overset text.

To wit; if you choose Hide Hidden Characters, the non-printing triangle indicating a split footnote remains visible. You control the visibility of the triangle by changing the visibility of the frame itself, via View > Show/Hide Frame Edges.

A trivial distinction. I could see some users wondering what the heck that triangle was, which is the point of our Guide to Special Characters. Thanks, Tim!

Anne-Marie Concepcion
Anne-Marie "HerGeekness" Concepcion owns a busy cross-media design studio in Chicago and is one of the industry\'s best-known Adobe trainers and consultants. She also presents many video tutorials at In addition to her work here, Anne-Marie hosts our sister site,, for editors and designers working in an InDesign/InCopy worfklow, and writes the free monthly e-zine InCopyFlow. The tips and insights she shares in her free DesignGeek e-zine are enjoyed by thousands of designers, publishers, and prepress professionals around the world. Learn more about Anne-Marie at her company's web site, Seneca Design & Training.
Anne-Marie Concepcion

Latest posts by Anne-Marie Concepcion (see all)

Related Articles

8 Comments on “Split Footnote Special Character

  1. Interesting itty-bitty stuff, thanks! I have re-downloaded your PDF, to have the Latest & Greatest. And I’m glad to see that the split footnote triangle comes in The Traditional Blue Color. ;-)

  2. But if you count as a “special character” any blue thing that can be viewed or hidden as above, doesn’t that make the anchored object anchor a “hidden character” as well?

    I’d say that only things that can be cut and pasted, which flow with the text and so on, count as “special characters”.

    (But wait — on checking, I notice that anchors don’t disappear when you hide hidden characters, so fair enough!)

  3. Thank you for mention me as an alert InDesign user! This is the second time on InDesignSecrets. I fell honored ;-)

    I?m a little bit disappointed that the ?Special Character? technically is not a real ?Special Character? :-(

    Perhaps the next time!

  4. Jeremy, in the guide I included lots of elements that don’t disappear when you hide hidden characters in the PDF, which is why I didn’t call it “Guide to Hidden Characters.”

    But the current name “Guide to Special Characters” isn’t exactly right either, because the last two pages are all about markers (footnotes, hyperlinks, anchored objects, cross-references, etc.) — how they look in Layout view and how they look in the Story Editor. They’re not things you find in Type > Insert Special Character.

    So I’m using “Special Character” in a generic sense I guess. ;-) I’m hoping people get the gist: It’s a field guide to the non-printing elements (symbols/icons) that you sometimes see in the contents of text frames in ID.

  5. Perhaps you could call it “A guide to non-printing characters, symbols and special characters.” :)

    Well, for the first time yesterday I encountered a symbol I hadn’t seen before a “:” at the start of some paragraphs? I was like – what in the moley is that? And it turns out to be my bookmarks that I made. I don’t make a lot of interactive PDFs hence I hadn’t seen this character before. Then I remembered where I could find the answer – right here!!!

    Thank you very much indeed.

  6. Hello;
    Are there any way to print Split Footnote character
    or can I change it to another printable character?
    please help me…

  7. Sorry, I know of no way to find or print a Split Footnote special character. Have you tried exporting it to InDesign Tagged Text to see if any special character entity appears in its place?

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>