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Wrangle footnotes into place with Note Stripper

Wrangle footnotes into place with Note Stripper

January 6, 2022 By Adrienne Montgomerie Resources

The file was in a right hot mess. Cue editing stage sub-1: panic. The publisher wanted end notes created using Word’s built-in End Note feature. Numbering was to restart with each chapter. The author submitted this:

The books I work on do not have footnotes or end notes, so you might imagine how paralyzed I felt with this first introduction. It’s enought to make you strip the keys off your keyboard.

“To the interweb!”

On Facebook, I asked my network of colleagues if there was an easy fix for this. Within moments, Amy Schneider suggested Note Stripper. This was quickly echoed by others. Off I went.

Note Stripper is a Word plug-in created by Editorium, creator of so many productivity tools for editors. It promised to be able to convert all the footnote numbers to manual numbering and then connect those numbers to the list of notes and list them as the end notes the publisher required.

A few more monkeys were needed first. (Thanks to Glenn Court for suggesting these steps when I was too panicked to think for myself.)

STEP 1 — CONVERT NUMBERED LIST

This part was easy. Convert the automatically numbered list of notes to manual numbering using any number of macros out there. One is simply the command: ActiveDocument,ConvertNumbersToText. (Thanks further to Glenn to for that one. There are others in Paul Beverley’s Macros for Writers, Editors, and Proofreaders, from Intelligent Editing.)

STEP 2 — FIND ANOTHER SNAFU

Because the author had created empty footnotes, Note Stripper kept giving errors. Because there was no content, I couldn’t even find a way to use Find & Replace to insert dummy content, Word simply could not work with empty footnotes. There were 633 unworkable fields. Back to the interwebs. In the meantime, I opened the footnotes area and started typing an h on every line. H, down arrow, h, down arrow.

Are you bored yet?

My typing turned out to be faster than the interwebs and soon I had not-empty footnote fields that Word could recognize.

STEP 3 — USE NOTE STRIPPER

Using the “Notes to Text” option, the program replaced footnote numbers in the running text with plain old superscript numbers, and compiled the long list of h footnotes at the end of the document as a manually numbered list. It wasn’t pretty, because I didn’t take the time to give good instructions since I’d be deleting that list of h’s anyway.

STEP 4 — USE DELETE KEY

Delete the dummy list. Highlight, click!

STEP 5 — RESTRIP

The great thing about Note Stripper is that it works in both directions. I placed the cursor at the top of the now-manually-numbered endnotes and selected “Text to Notes.”

The program failed because there was one more note than there were numbers in the file. Smarty-pants. Luckily, it seems that the last two notes are actually one note. So the whole numbering system isn’t snafu.

After amalgamating those two last notes, the program ran; ran well, I think.

IT STILL TAKES TIME

With all the monkeying around to find the solution, load the software, and get the file in shape so the software would work, it still took about 4 hours. But next time it won’t take that long. And it was far preferable to cutting and pasting 633 632 notes in the proper place.

Note Stripper seems to have several other functions. I don’t think I even scratched the surface. I know I didn’t read the documentation. I flew by the seat of my pants to jump a hurdle quickly. Sound familiar?

The $30 for Note Stripper is well worth it. Even if this is the last time I use it; fingers crossed.

This article was originally posted to Copyediting.com on 3/6/14.

Header photo by Andrew Neel on Unsplash.

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