Need help for basic Footnote problem

I’m having trouble using the footnote feature in Scrivener, and I know I must be missing something basic.

I am able to insert footnotes in Scrivener using the control-cmd-8 key, and I see the footnotes in the “comments and footnotes” inspector. I’ve tried this with the marker and without. The problem is that when I compile to RTF, no matter how I fiddle with the footnotes/comments compile option, the resulting RTF file has no footnote markers, and no footnotes. They’re gone.

I can’t find this problem here on the forum, and I feel that it must be something very simple I’m missing. This is embarrassing as I’ve probably used a couple of dozen different word processors over the last 30 years, but I can’t figure it out.


I see that I’m showing in my profile as a Windows user. I’m actually a (converted) Mac user and have been using Scrivener on Mac for over a year.

I think I found the solution. I just tried compiling to Word instead of RTF, and the footnotes are there.

Cancel my call for help!

It might be worth knowing that if you open an rtf file in TextEdit (the default on most Macs) you won’t see the footnotes, because TextEdit doesn’t support footnotes. But if you open the rtf file in something like Nisus Writer Pro, you should see them.

Cheers, Martin.

As Martin said, the issue is with the application used to open the file. TextEdit (which is the default application for opening RTFs on OSX) doesn’t display footnotes.If you open those same files in WOrd, the foot notes will display.

Note that when Scrivener compiles to Word format (.doc) it is really just saving an RTF text file with a different extension.

I recommend compiling to RTF, opening those files in Word and then saving as a Word document (either .doc or .docx format). This will give you the greatest control over your footnotes and endnotes.

When you compile to RTF - is that the same as exporting?

I have been exporting to word (docx) and although all the footnotes are there as endnotes the doc doesn’t recognise them as endnotes … just as extra text so I can’t convert them to footnotes (which is preferable for me).

Any advice.

p.s. I am pretty inept so speak slowly!

Compiling (File > Compile…) involves compiling all of the documents in the Draft/Manuscript folder into one long document and either printing it or exporting it to a format of your choice.

Scrivener’s .docx support isn’t very good at the moment - it uses the standard OS X exporters (the same as found in TextEdit) which don’t support true footnotes, headers and footers, images and so on. Therefore, export to the RTF format instead, and then, in Word, go to File > Open… and choose the RTF file you exported from Scrivener. This will have all of the footnotes and suchlike.

All the best,

As an added step to give more flexibility and control over your footnotes, then choose “Save As…” from Word’s File menu and save the file in Word’s native format (either .doc or .docx). I have found that Word handles footnotes slightly differently depending on whether the file is saved as as an RTF or Word document (with the latter giving better results). Note that this is a quirk of Word, not Scrivener.

To summarise:

  1. In Scrivener, compile your project to RTF
  2. Open the RTF in Word
  3. Use “Save as…” to change to Word’s .doc (or .docx) format
  4. Edit to your heart’s content. :slight_smile:

Hello !

French Mac user, I’ve tried to follow what you explained, but it doesn’t work. Just watch my print screen. I would like my footnotes at the bottom of each page.
I’ve compiled with rtf file, then opened with Pages and saves as. But… :frowning:

In advance, thanks for your help :smiley:


Pages has very poor support for rtf. You need to open your rtf file in another word processor – e.g. Libre Office (free), Open Office (free), Word, Nisus, or some other. The save the file as .doc and open it in Pages.


Hi Martin !

Tks for your reply :smiley: .

I’ve done it with Open Office, but… :cry:
Maybe there is something I made wrong during compilation. I join print screen of my compile.

Many thanks in advance !

Capture d’écran 2012-05-28 à 12.03.03.png

The first thing I would try is de-selecting “Flatten footnotes and comments into regular text”.


Dear Martin,

It’s working :smiley:.
Many many thanks for your time and advises !

Enjoy your day !


Thanks. I’m glad you got it working. Best of luck with your work.