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Bringhurst on Building Endnotes in CS4

I’ve been answering the question of “can I make endnotes in InDesign” for years now, and the answer is always “sorry”! So I was so pleased to see this wonderful little workaround written up by Bob Bringhurst, the lead docs guy on the InDesign team. To give credit where it’s due, he based this on a comment by Peter Gold, who humbly noted on the adobe forums, ” Shucks, folks. This is just an old FrameMaker technique.”

It’s a very simple and elegant solution: First, type each endnote in at the end of the document and set it to a paragraph style that includes automatic numbering. Then — on the document page, where you want the end note reference number — insert a cross-reference to that paragraph. Set the Format pop-up menu to Paragraph Number, so that the cross-reference just grabs the auto-number.

But yes, the Cross References panel is a new feature in CS4…

Now if we can just get the MS Word import filter to generate those automatically when you place the document!

Thanks, Bob and Peter!

David Blatner

David Blatner

David Blatner is the co-founder of the Creative Publishing Network, InDesign Magazine, and the author or co-author of 15 books, including Real World InDesign. His InDesign videos at are among the most watched InDesign training in the world. You can find more about David at
David Blatner

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12 Comments on “Bringhurst on Building Endnotes in CS4

  1. Thank you very much indeed, David, Bob, Peter and all others. Let me say that one revelation for me is that there’s a cross-reference feature in CS4 – very very good!

    Let me also say that while the footnote feature and the endnote workaround are better than they were before, I don’t think Adobe is quite off the hook on this. Books have footnotes and endnotes. Often, not rarely. Word has the most effective method of inserting them. That is the gold standard, and anything less than that is less than good.

    I’m typesetting for academic journals, and footnotes/endnotes can often take up as much room as the main text. Their formatting is very pernickety. I still think Adobe can pay more attention to this.

    (I know – I should be telling this to Adobe rather than you. I’m really grateful for the information. You’ve made my day.)

  2. This is great. Thank you. But I’m like the previous poster–lots of academic footnotes. So if I had 100 or more endnotes, as I often do, I might grow weary of this process, unless there was a way to automate it.

  3. I sort out the footnotes and endnotes in Word and then import the text to indesign.

    The ability to make endnotes to footnotes and vice versa in Word is neato.

    I don’t like indesign footnotes and I use them a lot.

    I like how you can style them and make them look and all that, but it needs sprucing up big time.

    I like the tip of the cross-reference to make endnotes though.

    Any thoughts on this working to make footnotes that span columns?

  4. Thank you, David, this might save my bacon on an upcoming project! The no-endnotes situation in InDesign is a terrible shortcoming. My great old DOS word processor XyWrite had fine a footnotes/endnotes function — back in 1987 — which I used a lot for many years.

  5. @David: “It?s a very simple and elegant solution.” I tried this route now, and I’m sorry, I can’t agree — it’s slow and fiddly. I have to deal with setting all those parameters in that for EVERY footnote I want referenced inside that Cross References window? “Simple and elegant?” Please tell me I am stupid and have totally misunderstood this (apparent) Rube Goldberg route.

  6. @Klaus: Simple and elegant doesn’t mean that it’s fast. But it doesn’t seem like that big of a deal as long as you don’t have dozens or hundreds of them. After you type (paste, import, whatever) the endnotes, you just just place the cursor in the text, click Add Cross Reference, choose the para style, click the one you want to reference and click OK. It goes pretty quickly.

    The most frustrating thing is that you have to use the mouse to click on the styles and in the list of paragraphs. I wish you could navigate that dialog box entirely by kbsc.

  7. If you have dozens of endnotes, you can try this. Type or paste all the endnotes at the end of the document. Create one cross-reference using the workaround method, and then copy and paste that hyperlink to the other locations in the document. Then, select them one by one and double-click the hyperlink in the Hyperlinks panel (Window > Interactive > Hyperlinks). You can then simply click the appropriate endnote for that section, click OK, and the number is updated.

    It’s not exactly “simple and elegant,” but it’s not bad for a workaround.

  8. Thank you, Peter. This will not be the first of your scripts I have found very helpful, not to mention your piece on GREP in InDesign.

  9. I don?t know if you folks have a solution for this problem:
    A Word document gets placed in InDesign, the text running over many pages. It is science, there are many annotations handled as generic footnotes; InDesign does import this correctly so that the footnotes take place dynamically at bottom of each page. So far OK.
    But now to the main text, where the annotation reference numbers apper. These numbers employ the basic figures (0030 ? 0039 by encoding) and renders them diminished and vertically shifted. This looks bad. I would like to set the genuin superscript figures of the font instead (00B2, 00B3, 00B9 and 2074 ? 2079 by encoding) because that looks far better. But if I change the character in the main text ? the link breaks and the footnote disappears.
    ? any solution?

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