Most footnotes disappeared in Writer

I have a document of about 250 pages, and it has a few dozen footnotes. These were created using “Insert->Footnote and Endnote”->“Footnote or Endnote…” and the character I used to denote them was an asterisk.

Recently, when I opened the document, I noted the majority of the footnotes have disappeared. Not all, but maybe around 80 to 90 percent of them. In all instances I can see of missing footnotes, the footnote at the bottom of the page has been removed, but the asterisk character that marks the point in the text being footnoted remains. It just isn’t connected to anything.

I looked online, and one suggestion was that saving back and forth between other formats, such as Word .DOCX or .DOC or others could be the root of the problem. However, i have only ever saved this document as a .ODT. I exported it a couple times as PDF for others to read, but I always kept the original in .ODT format.

Also, in one forum post, a person with the same problem said they eventually found all their footnotes at the very bottom of the document. Unfortunately, I checked, and the missing footnotes are not aggregated at the bottom or anywhere else that I can find.

The only thing I can think that might have had an impact is that in the time between when I last saw the footnotes and when I noticed they were missing, I upgraded LibreOffice from 6.3 to 7.0.1.

Why are footnotes disappearing, can I recover them, and how do I prevent this from happening again?

Difficult to tell without the file (which is too big to be attached) and I bet that trying to reproduce the problem on a 1-page sample is next to impossible.

Side remark: there are footnotes only in Writer, therefore tagging writer is correct. But common is nonsense because there are no notes in Calc, Draw, Impress, Math or Base. Please, retag to remove common and eventually add footnotes. This will help to better classify your question and target potential contributors.

So, this is just some bug that has wiped out hours of my work and there’s nothing I can do about it? There’s no way I can ensure it won’t happen again?

I can’t tell if this is a bug. I have long-maintained documents with footnotes which survived many OS+LO upgrades. Some date back to the time where extension was .sxw (before version 3.x if I remember right); they were converted to .odt and are still edited without problem in I never lost a note or part of text.

So, before filing a bug, it is of the utmost importance to be able to reproduce the mis-behaviour. You can’t rule out a user error if you don’t remember very precisely what you did in your last session.

When I’m working on job-critical documents, I follow a strict versioning strategy in case something goes wrong. Parts may still be lost, but this is mitigated by the backup strategy.

I do know exactly what I did last session. I wrote in it, created footnotes, and saved the document. I did nothing exotic or out of the ordinary.

What is the size of your 250-page document (in MBytes)? The only thing I can do is to have a look at its structure. If it is confidential or personal, I can give a private mail @ddress for direct transmission.

The document is just under 4 megabytes. I would definitely prefer to not have it posted anywhere public, as it is a work of fiction that is in progress. I appreciate your offer. I hope you understand that before I shared it with someone, I’d have to know who I’m sending it to, and what they are able to do with it. Are you a developer or someone who has an understanding of LibreOffice code such that you could debug the behavior I am seeing?

I think 4MB is above the limit allowed on this site, this means private mail is mandatory. Contact me on ajlittoz (at) users (dot) sourceforge (dot) net. After mail handshake, you’ll have my “real” @ddress and I can then answer your legitimate questions.