Footnote for another footnote

I’m able to place a footnote on normal text. However, I want to add a footnote to another footnote. The problem is, when placing the cursor inside the footnote area to add the footnote, the button grays out as well as the dropdown menu Insert → Footnote & Endnote → Footnote.

Is it possible to add a footnote to another footnote?

Click in your first footnote and click Insert > Field > More fields (or press Ctrl+F2)
In the dialogue that opens select the tab labelled Cross-references,

  • under Type select Footnotes,
  • under Selection choose your second footnote
  • under Refer using select a suitable option, page number or Above/Below seem reasonable depending on use

Click Insert.

I think I see what you are going for, but that doesn’t really do what I need.

On the second step I wouldn’t be able to select the second footnote as it would have to be inserted manually.

Say, I have sentenceA with footnote_a & sentenceB with footnote_b. All great.
But when I try to create footnote for footnote_a, that is not possible.

So there would not be a footnote to reference to from the start. Unless I insert a footnote in the body text after footnote_a, but that would not make any sense.

What I’m looking for is something like this:

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet{1}

1 consectetur adipiscing{2} elit
2 Footnote to footnote{1}

As both @keme1 and @ajlittoz have said, the footnote should be expanded to include the extra explanatory text.

I presume that this is a literary device such as used by Terry Pratchett for example. We can create a workaround that appears to function in a similar way and the links even work, although only in one direction.

A footnote to a footnote shouldn’t use the same numbering as the originating footnote as it is a different sequence, think ordered lists but probably best not to take it to extremes.

You can create the effect by entering a new paragraph below the originating footnote, clicking Insert > Field > More fields, selecting the Variables tab and inserting a number range. Best to choose text if you aren’t going to be using the numbering to caption text otherwise things might get even more difficult.

Enter a tab after it and enter your sub-footnote text.

Click the place in the original footnote where you want your sub-footnote link to go. Select the Cross-reference tab and click your sub-footnote text, Insert reference to Numbering.

Sub-Footnotes.odt (16.6 KB)


I’m afraid your request doesn’t make sense.

A footnote to a footnote is logically an extension of the current footnote. Consequently, the simplest way to handle it is to add another paragraph to the note. Notes in Writer may be composed of as many paragraphs as you need.

The only case I see where an individual footnote may be useful is when you want to reference this footnote from several locations.

Disabling footnote insertion may be a consequence of ODF (the internal document encoding standard). A footnote is stored in the main text flow at its anchored point. When document is rendered, it is easy to scan the internal representation and set aside note text. Having footnotes in footnotes would require a recursive algorithm and a smart process to resolve numbering issues and layout sequence. It may happen that some configurations may be unsolvable (algorithm oscillating between two fixed points).

IMHO, the present situation is a reasonable design choice.


I understand what you are asking, but …

  • Technically, the functionality is not available in Writer
  • Formally, a footnote to a footnote is wrong. The page has a “footing area”. The footing area does not have its own footing area.
    A footnote is “aside” info. Introducing asides should be avoided, but sometimes you need them. An aside to the aside makes for overly complex branching. Consider whether your first note should instead be part of running text.

I do not mean the above as condescending. Sorry if it came out as that. I recognize that sometimes you need to get your writing down without unnecessary obstacles of “formally wrong” and “unnessessarily complex”. Alas, the only way to do it in Writer, seems to be within running text.
As a workaround I would insert the notes in succession within running text. Then if you also need a more precise reference to the second note within the first, the field insertion as suggested by @EarnestAl is available. It introduces a bit more clutter in the text body, but I think that is the best you can get in Writer. You can hide the note anchor by making its text color the same as background color, but it will still occupy some space.

Another writing strategy is to insert the “main aside” (first footnote) as a frame, and the subordinate aside as a footnote. Alas, frames don’t have that footer area, so you would still need to insert the footnote in the text body first, and then insert the field inside the frame.


I think this is clumsy because the note number is still incremented. A reader would be confused if s/he founds a note without a corresponding anchor in text. Another option is to “detach” this note from the note numbering sequence by using a user-defined anchor symbol. But once again, my objection about a note without a corresponding anchor holds.

When you need some “external” text within the notes, like headings or separators, you can insert a note with a “space” anchor symbol (then no need to give it the background colour).

Unfortunately, we can’t apply to the anchor a character style with attribute Hidden because this also hides the note.


The writer intends to insert the reference into the footnote, where it will still be visible, eliminating that part of confusion. To this end an anchor is explicitly requested, if only suggestively.

Clumsy, yes it is. Workarounds often are. I believe I totally see your point; we don’t disagree much. That is also why I supplied the unsolicited comments targeted towards writing style, to perhaps eliminate the issue altogether.