Editorial Manual | Footnotes and other references
IX. Footnote indicators
A. Types of indicators
B. Placement of indicators in the text
C. Numbered footnotes
D. Footnotes indicated by lower-case letters
E. Footnotes indicated by asterisks and other symbols
A. Types of indicators
Every footnote has a corresponding footnote indicator – a number, lower-case letter or asterisk or other symbol – typed in superscript in the text.
Indicators in documents and publications. In documents and publications, numbered footnotes are used in the main body of the text and in annexes and appendices. Lower-case letters are normally used as footnote indicators in tables, figures and boxed text within a document or publication. Asterisks and other symbols are used as indicators in the specific cases described below (see Footnote indicators/Footnotes indicated by asterisks and other symbols).
Indicators in resolutions and decisions. Numbered footnotes are used in resolutions and decisions, including any annexes to the text. Lower-case letters are not used. Asterisks and other symbols are used primarily in decisions concerning the election of members of intergovernmental bodies.
The footnote indicator is normally placed after the full title or description of the source or item being referenced and should always be positioned so as to leave no doubt about the subject of the reference. When a statement is being substantiated or explained, the indicator is placed at the end of the appropriate phrase or sentence. It is placed after a quoted passage, not after the words introducing the quotation.
When there are punctuation marks (e.g. a comma, colon or period) at the point where the footnote indicator should be inserted, the indicator is placed after the punctuation in English but before the punctuation in French and Spanish. When more than one indicator must be inserted at the same place in the text, the indicators are separated by a comma.
Editors should check all indicator numbers against the footnotes to ensure that they correspond and that no numbers have been repeated incorrectly or skipped.
In documents and publications, footnotes should be numbered consecutively throughout the main body of the text except in the cases described below.
Reports of the Main Committees of the General Assembly. Footnotes are numbered consecutively throughout sections I (Introduction) and II (Consideration of proposals). In section III (Recommendations), they are numbered separately for each draft resolution, beginning with footnote 1 each time.
Reports containing replies to requests for information from organizations and Governments. Footnotes are numbered separately for each reply from an organization or Government that is reproduced or summarized in a report, beginning with footnote 1 each time. This numbering system ensures that the footnotes will correspond in all language versions of the report since the replies are presented in the alphabetical order of the names of the responding organizations and Governments and the sequence will vary in different language versions of the report.
Publications and supplements. It is acceptable to number footnotes separately in each chapter or section of a lengthy publication or supplement to the Official Records. In publications containing articles by different authors, footnotes are always numbered separately for each article.
Footnotes in a foreword or preface. The footnotes in a foreword or preface to a publication are numbered separately from those in the main body of the text.
Annexes and appendices. A separate series of footnotes should be used for each annex and appendix in a document or publication.
Tables and figures. Lower-case letters are used as footnote indicators in most tables and figures (see Tables/Notes to tables). In statistical publications containing tables with numerous footnotes, numbers are normally used instead of letters.
Boxed text. Lower-case letters are used as footnote indicators in boxed text within a document or publication and in a boxed summary at the beginning of a document.
In documents and publications, asterisks and other symbols are used as footnote indicators when it is necessary to depart from the normal system of numbering or lettering.
Sequence of symbols. When a series of such footnotes is required, the following sequence of symbols should be used:
* , ** , *** , **** , † , ‡ , §.
When more than seven footnotes are needed, numbers are used instead of symbols.
Placement of symbols. Asterisks and other symbols are placed after the elements to which they relate in the same way as footnote numbers and lower-case letters. The footnotes are normally placed at the bottom of the page. When the information in the footnote applies to more than one item in a list or table of contents, the same indicator (asterisk or other symbol) can be repeated as necessary without repeating the footnote itself.
Note: Footnotes indicated by asterisks and other symbols are placed above footnotes indicated by numbers and lower-case letters when they appear at the bottom of the same page.
When to use asterisks and other symbols. Asterisks and other symbols are used as footnote indicators in the following cases:
- Above the masthead, after the document symbol to indicate a reissue
- Below the masthead, in the left corner notation, after "Item __ of the provisional agenda" to provide the symbol of the provisional agenda, except in the provisional agenda itself
- After the title of a document to provide information relating to the document as a whole
- After the heading "Report of the Secretary-General" to explain late submission
- After the sponsor of a draft resolution or decision submitting the text on behalf of a group
- After the title or submitter of a technical paper for a conference or intergovernmental body to identify the author or provide other information
- After the name of the author of an article in a publication to indicate the author’s title and affiliation
- After titles, subtitles and headings to provide cross references
- After items in a list or table of contents to provide additional information
- After country names in documents concerning the election of members of intergovernmental bodies to indicate the dates on which their terms of office expire
- When a document or annex is not edited or translated
- When an annex or attachment is not included
- For explanatory footnotes in texts containing keyed references
Above the masthead, after the document symbol to indicate a reissue for technical reasons:
* Reissued for technical reasons on [date].
Note: There is a single asterisk regardless of the number of times a document has been reissued. The asterisk is printed on the document that was reissued but should not be included in references giving the symbol of the reissued document.
In the left corner notation to indicate the symbol of the provisional agenda:
Item 3 of the provisional agenda*
After the title of a document to provide information relating to the document as a whole:
Provisional agenda of the sixty-third regular session of the General Assembly*
* Issued in accordance with rule 12 of the rules of procedure.
After "Report of the Secretary-General" (below the title) to explain late submission:
[Title of report]
Report of the Secretary-General*
* The present report is being issued at this time to include the latest available data.
After the sponsor of a draft resolution or decision submitting the text on behalf of a group:
Antigua and Barbuda:* draft resolution
Third United Nations Conference on the Least Developed Countries
* On behalf of the States Members of the United Nations that are members of the Group of 77 and China.
After the title or submitter of a technical report for a conference or intergovernmental body to identify the author or provide other information:
Grammar of toponymy
Submitted by France**
** Prepared by Pierre Jaillard (France).
After the name of the author of an article in a publication to indicate title and affiliation:
Terrorism and organized crime
by Frank Bovenkirk* and Bashir Abou Chakra**
* Professor of Criminology at the Willem Pompe Institute for Criminal Law and Criminology at the University of Utrecht, Netherlands.
** Practising lawyer and member of the Lebanese Bar Association, specializing in the internationalization of crime and criminal justice.
After a heading to provide a cross reference:
* For the discussion, see chap. II, paras.38-40.
After country names in documents concerning the election of members of intergovernmental bodies to indicate the dates on which their terms of office expire:
As a result, the Human Rights Council is composed of the following forty-seven Member States: Algeria,* Argentina,* Azerbaijan,*** Bahrain,* Bangladesh,*** Brazil,** ….
* Term of office expires on 18 June 2007.
** Term of office expires on 18 June 2008.
*** Term of office expires on 18 June 2009.
Note: When the information in the footnote relates to more than one item in the decision, the same indicator is repeated in the text as necessary. In a series of decisions, a new set of footnotes is used for each decision, starting with a single asterisk each time. The same system can be used in documents concerning the election of members of intergovernmental bodies.
When a document is not edited:
Policy paper 10: Housing policies*
* The present document is being issued without formal editing.
When an annex is not translated:
Upon instructions from my Government, I have the honour to convey herewith the records of the violations of the ceasefire by the Republic in January (see annex).*
* Circulated in the language of submission only.
Note: The footnote is not reproduced in the annex, nor is it necessary to indicate the language notation at the top of the annex.
When an annex is not included:
I wish to inform you that El Salvador recently passed the Special Act for the Protection and Development of Salvadoran Migrants and Their Families (decree No. 655).*
* On file with the Secretariat and available for consultation.