TeX - LaTeX Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for users of TeX, LaTeX, ConTeXt, and related typesetting systems. Join them; it only takes a minute:

Sign up
Here's how it works:
  1. Anybody can ask a question
  2. Anybody can answer
  3. The best answers are voted up and rise to the top

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.}}
share|improve this question
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. – Bruno Stonek 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
share|improve this answer
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 ;) – Bruno Stonek 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.

share|improve this answer

Your Answer


By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.