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Working With Endnotes in InDesign

InDesign Magazine issue 105
This article appeared in Issue 105 of InDesign Magazine.

The Good, Bad, and Ugly of InDesign’s new Endnotes feature

When footnotes were added to InDesign, back in 2005 (version CS2), I wrote about them for issue #5 of InDesign Magazine. So here we are, twelve years and exactly 100 issues of the magazine later… and the other shoe has dropped: InDesign CC 2018 has finally gained the ability to create endnotes.

Endnotes, as you probably know, are just like footnotes—they’re numbered auxiliary notes that relate to text in the body of the publication—but instead of sitting at the bottom of each page, they’re placed at the end of a story or document. Endnotes are very common in academic and trade book publishing, but until now it has been a hassle to create them in InDesign. But before you get too excited, it’s worth saying that the new features have some significant limitations. How successful you are with them depends on how well you understand how they work, what their pitfalls are, and how you can best take advantage of them in a particular project. So read on to find out.

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Jamie McKee

Jamie McKee

Jamie McKee is a book designer and typesetter for university presses throughout the US and England, specializing in moving text from Microsoft Word to InDesign. More information about him can be found at .
Jamie McKee

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8 Comments on “Working With Endnotes in InDesign

  1. Having recently done my first science text, endnotes and all, with the new feature, I’ll add a suggestion to a problem that drove me nuts until I discovered a work around.

    The book came in a common format, with each endnoted chapter as a separate Word document. I expected them to import as a batch, bringing in all the text with the endnotes in a single frame at the end, each chapter’s endnotes numbered separately. Instead I found an ID engaging in its usual obsession with the place cursor, demanding that I place each chapter somewhere. That put me in a terrible catch-22, since the previous page was in a single frame with overflow. Worst of all, almost every time I stumbled through this gosh-awful import, there were no endnote in the back. Once I got an obscure error message that seemed to be about that, but I couldn’t make sense of it.

    That took several days of trying, including bringing in the Word documents in various formats under the assumption that maybe the Word document—which had passed through several editors—was corrupted. No luck.

    Finally, I turned to a ‘nuke and pave’ solution. My ID document was a template with a ready-to-go index in the back. I not only stripped it out, I reduced all the post-text-insert pages to frameless, blank pages. Maybe, I thought, something is keeping that endnotes frame from forming.

    I also went slow but sure on my chapter importing. I created numerous blank pages and did the import. For each chapter, I placed its frame on a right-hand page, not worrying about the overflow. Then when ID gave me the place cursor for the next chapter, I placed it on the next right-hand page. The result was a 12-chapter, over two-hundred page book on half of 24 pages, with each chapter a separate story. ID seems particular about using stories with endnoting. To my delight, the endnotes were in a frame in the back and configuring them to start renumber with each story gave the result I wanted there. I could even add chapter headings to that endnote list.

    Then I used the panel to add 30 pages after each chapter’s introductory page. That proved to be enough to spread out each chapter and leave some blank pages for when I inserted the graphics. When the book was done, I then deleted the excess blank pages.

    That should work for others. I read the documentation, but it focused on importing a single document, tripped lightly over the issues of importing multiple documents at once, and offered no reason why that endnote frame wasn’t being created.

    That’s my take on what the writer above calls the feature’s “significant limitations.” The feature does work when used in a particular way and saved me a lot of time when I had to add and delete endnotes to the imported document. But it is still a bit short of what it needs to be.

  2. The idea of a more robust footnote/endnote feature was very appealing. Unfortunately it doesn’t work for me and only causes extra work.
    I produce books for publishers. They provide a set of individual chapter files for each book and a separate edited notes file. Any text with footnotes that I import to ID2018 is virtually unusable since different editors edit out the chapter footnotes or ask me to do so when I import the text. I end up with no references at all or references numbered sequentially throughout an entire book. My only solution is to import the text in ’17 and then work in ’18.
    Is there any way to turn off this feature when I don’t need it?

  3. Jamie says: “they’re placed at the end of a story”.
    I think, that leaves the wrong expression here.
    Endnotes are always placed in their OWN story.


  4. I’m quite pleased that an endnote feature is available in InDesign now but my challenge is that I have multiple callout boxes and pull quotes that also include endnotes (aside from the main content text frames). When I copy-and-paste the text into these boxes/pull quotes, the endnote references jump and are placed at the end of the total endnote list.

    For example, let’s say my entire document includes 100 endnotes. If pages 2 and 3 include text with endnotes 1 thru 10, and I have pull quotes and callout boxes also with endnotes on that same spread, those callout references may be endnotes numbering 80 thru 90. In other words, they aren’t sequential with the other endnotes on the pages where they live. Very confusing, I know.

    Any way to fix/change this so all endnotes on a spread are numbered sequentially? Thanks!

  5. Hi Elle

    Please understand Endnotes are classified based on two workflows, one is story scope(when you have one continuous chapter in threaded text frame) or other is document scope(as the name says document as whole). In case of story scope, each story will have its own endnote frame/story. In case of document scope, endnote of all the stories reside in common endnote frame.

    I assume your Document endnote settings in Type–> Document Endnote options is set to Document hence, all the endnotes are going on the last page.
    If you want to segregate your endnotes based on the story, please change the endnote scope in document endnote options.
    Also, in Document endnote options, there is an option of load place cursor, in case you want to place your endnote frame in customise location, set the placement option as “load place cursor before adding first endnote to the story and then on inserting first endnote, it will be loaded in place cursor which can be placed anywhere.

    Let me know if it help you.

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