Applying formatting to all footnotes


I’m struggling with the formatting of footnotes in my manuscript. The usual keyboard short-cuts that work in the writing panel don’t seem to work, even when I select text in the footnote.

It’s non-fiction and there are so many, so I would love to be able to set formatting for every footnote of the project.

If anyone has any suggestions or tips I would be really grateful.
Thanks and best wishes

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Without knowing exactly what formatting you want, if you click once on a footnote, Cmd-A to select all footnotes, then Right/Ctrl-click and from the drop down select Convert to Default Formatting…

I can’t guarantee that’s the exact wording as I’m away from my computer, but it will regularise all the footnotes.


that’s really helpful, thanks a lot for that Mark. it’s a good step in the right direction, some of the footnotes remain indented while some are not, so it doesn’t quite synchronize that, but it’s a good help.

(I guess you’re in south-east china, how wonderful, lovely part of the country)

best wishes and thanks again

The ones that are indented probably have a leading tab, so you could try selecting them all again and from Edit > Text Tidying > Strip Leading Tabs, or whatever the wording is.

I spent 14 years living and working in Xiamen in Fujian Province, but I retired 10 years ago (78 years old now) and am mostly in Exeter in Devon in the UK. But I do still miss China, especially my friends and the food!


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I’ve tried that and all other text tidying options, no effect, it’s the second line that’s indented

Screenshot 2024-02-13 at 20.13.05

i know how you feel, I lived in china teaching once, wonderful experience, wish I could have done it longer, i nheard xiamen is a wonderful city (and clean air, as a big selling point)

glad you enjoyed it

Hi Paul, sorry for not getting back sooner… life and family needs got in the way for a few weeks!

Did you ever find a solution to this? If so, do let us know; if not, can you set up a new test project, drag a document with footnotes which show this behaviour into it (redact it to be unreadable if necessary), zip it up and either send it to me in a PM, or post it here, so I/we can try to find out what’s going on.

As for Xiamen, when I first arrived in 2000, air pollution was so low it didn’t actually register, in 2001 there were 5000 private cars in a population of 2.5 million; it’s an island and the local government policy was you could only have a car if you had a parking place, but they didn’t make parking places available. In 2006, Central Government announced that people should be encouraged to buy cars as a way of boosting the economy, so the Xiamen government had to rescind its policy. By November 2010, there were 650,000 private cars in Xiamen and air quality was never the same, though still better than most Chinese cities.


Hi Mark

Thanks, I didn’t find a good solution. By pasting a character from a paragraph’s style I want to use, it will set the rest, so as I proof every footnote I have one ready to paste. the formatting options are greyed out when mutliple footnotes are selected, disappointingly. If you have any further thoughts, well, well-done! :slight_smile:

That’s really interesting about Xiamen and China, I miss it too, I’d have loved to have gone to Xiamen, maybe one day. Better but not good air, hopefully that too, one day. Economic decisioned ruled, then, unfortunately.

best wishes, and thanks again

I have tried copying a text with second and subsequent lines set up in TextEdit into a footnote and pasting it into a Scrivener footnote. It looked the way yours do/did, but using the “Convert to Default Formatting” removed the indent. Of course, TextEdit uses RTF.

  1. This makes me wonder if you might have copied and pasted the recalcitrant footnotes from Word or whatever and Scrivener can’t access the embedded ruler to change it.
  2. Whatever the reason for it, I imagine that sorting them out individually might be the only solution, as and when you encounter them. To do that:
    1. I’d cut the text of the footnote, paste it into a TextEdit document, set to ‘Plain Text’, then copy that and paste it back into the footnote.
    2. If that didn’t work, because the ruler setting was still there, I’d delete the footnote and make a new one using the TextEdit plain text.

But another question, does this ruler anomaly in footnotes carry over when you compile? If it doesn’t it’s purely cosmetic in Scrivener, no matter how irritating. Then, do you compile to RTF or DOCX? I compile to RTF and use Nisus Writer Pro, where it is easy to sort such anomalies out if they do go across, but I don’t know about DOCX and Word or ODT and LibreOffice.


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Just throwing this out there because I haven’t seen it mentioned.

Have you maybe inadvertantly changed to, or copied footnote formatting that was “hanging indent” style? Your sample image is a hanging indent.

I know this footnote style is an option in both Libre and Windows. I think I’ve seen the option in Scrivener somewhere too (compile? Styles?). Someone else may be able to chime in on where to find it.

Hanging indents would be defined in Scrivener the same way as any other indent.

Thanks again, I had tried making it plain in textedit, the indent remains. The ‘Convert to Default Formatting’ is greyed out, when the footnote is selected and when just its text.

It seems that the quickest fix is pasting a character that doens’t have the indent and then paste the style (CMD option & ‘v’). I hope this doesn’t create complications when it comes to compiling and outputting later.

thanks for that

I’m using Mac.

Not sure, the decrease hanging indent option is also greyed out when whole footnote or its content is seleteced.

Just a minute … are you trying this with the cursor in the footnote? You say things are greyed out even when all is selected?

The Convert to Default Formatting works when the footnote is selected but the cursor isn’t in the text. You can select it by clicking the anchor in the document or by a single click; the footnote is outlined but there’s no cursor in it.

Right clicking on it brings up the dropdown with Convert… I don’t think the Document menu option works.

It absolutely works for me like that, so I can’t think of why else you are getting your problem.

As I said before, send me/us a small project that exhibits it so I/we can have a look.



This is really weird! GREAT! right-clicking it works, but I was definitely trying both methods (and have just again) - selecting whole footnote and cursor inside. through the menu (document / convert / text to default formatting) only works for main body text.

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( it still doesn’t remove the hanging indents, but saves me pasting the format style, allowing default formatting to be applied to every footnote ).

actually, make that, sometimes it does and sometimes it doesn’t. I’m happy to leave it at that and for how to deal with it.

And I thank you all for offering your time and skills.
Best wishes