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How can I make a footnote to a footnote? E.g.,

Playfair's axiom\footnote{so called in honor of mathematician John Playfair, etc, etc., but was actually discovered by Proclus\footnote{Greek mathematician, etc, etc.}}
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Personal opinion: don't do this. – Seamus Jul 15 '11 at 23:44
Well, I wouldn't do it for a formal and serious article, but it is not the case, and I think it's fun. – lentic catachresis Jul 15 '11 at 23:46
Some manual \footnotemark and \footnotetext trickery should do it, but like @Seamus I would do it. – Martin Scharrer Jul 15 '11 at 23:46
Go ahead and do it and have fun. See "House of Leaves" for wonderfully nested footnotes and crazy text layout, and also a good story. – mankoff Jul 16 '11 at 0:57
The package bigfoot does this (example given in the manual). It is not a normal need, but critical editions which themselves include a scholarly apparatus may make such a situation necessary. – jon Nov 27 '11 at 4:32
up vote 25 down vote accepted
Playfair's axiom\footnote{%
so called in honor of mathematician John Playfair, etc, etc.,
but was actually discovered by Proclus\footnotemark}
\footnotetext{Greek mathematician, etc, etc.}

But I'd advise against doing this.

As a bonus, here's an example of how you can really mess with footnotes.

\footnotetext[4]{We have to go back to the future, Marty!}
Foo\footnote{The footnote to this sentence is true\footnotemark}
\footnotetext{The footnote to this sentence is false\footnotemark[1]} 
more body text\footnotetext[42]{This footnote doesn't appear in the main text}
And more body text\footnote{And we're back to the normal numbering.}
But look where this footnote text ends up!\footnotemark

A few points.

  • The footnotes appear in the order the \footnotemarks appear in the text.
  • Optional arguments to both \footnotemark and \footnotetext give you control over what number actually appears. (Useful for repeating a footnote if it is relevant again later.
  • Everything here should work perfectly with \label and \ref
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The same trick allows you do get footnotes in minipages. And there it is more useful... – Seamus Jul 15 '11 at 23:49
Perfect, I didn't know about these footnotemark and footnotetext commands. Thank you. I promise not to overuse it ;) – lentic catachresis Jul 15 '11 at 23:51
I'm not a big fan of footnotes in general. If it's important enough to mention, it's important enough for the main text. Rule of thumb: never have more footnotes than pages. But that's just me... – Seamus Jul 15 '11 at 23:53
Here is more information on \footnotemark[<num>] and \footnotetext[<num>]{<text>}, since it actually allows overriding of the mark used in the footnote. – Werner Jul 15 '11 at 23:54
@Werner thanks for that! I'll update my answer into a proper "here's how footnotes work" answer tomorrow. (it's 1am here) – Seamus Jul 15 '11 at 23:59

Use the bigfoot package (as I suggested in the above comment). E.g.:


\MakeSortedPerPage{B}% perhaps also useful to know about


\footnote{Available on CTAN.} %
improves \LaTeX's%
\footnoteB{Widely known to be less than ideal.} %
footnoting abilities.  \verb+bigfoot+%
\footnote{Available on CTAN.} %
improves \LaTeX's%
\footnoteB{Widely known to be less than ideal.\footnote{See also over
here: one important limitation is that ``Higher-placed footnotes
can't be anchored in inferior ones'' (see \verb+bigfoot.sty+).}} % 
footnoting abilities.

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