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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 Concepcion

Anne-Marie “Her Geekness” Concepción is the co-founder (with David Blatner) and CEO of Creative Publishing Network, which produces InDesignSecrets, InDesign Magazine, and other resources for creative professionals. Through her cross-media design studio, Seneca Design & Training, Anne-Marie develops ebooks and trains and consults with companies who want to master the tools and workflows of digital publishing. She has authored over 20 courses on on these topics and others. Keep up with Anne-Marie by subscribing to her ezine, HerGeekness Gazette, and contact her by email at or on Twitter @amarie
Anne-Marie Concepcion

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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?

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