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I would like to change my footnote "numbering" style temporally to letters (a,b,c ...) the default numbering beeing numbers (1,2,3 ...).

This is needed only for specific paragraph, so I can't use the

\renewcommand{\thefootnote}{\alph{footnote}}

at the beginning of the document.

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5  
Well, you're not limited to having \renewcommands in the preamble, you can have them in the document as well, so your approach would be: save value of footnote counter, set footnote counter to 0, renew \thefootnote, have your paragraph, restore value of counter and \thefootnote. –  Ulrich Schwarz Oct 5 '11 at 20:41
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3 Answers 3

up vote 10 down vote accepted
\newenvironment{alphafootnotes}
  {\par\edef\savedfootnotenumber{\number\value{footnote}}
   \renewcommand{\thefootnote}{\alph{footnote}}
   \setcounter{footnote}{0}}
  {\par\setcounter{footnote}{\savedfootnotenumber}}

\begin{document}
a\footnote{a} b\footnote{b}

\begin{alphafootnotes}
c\footnote{c} d\footnote{d}
\end{alphafootnotes}

e\footnote{e}
\end{document}

You'll get footnotes numbered 1, 2, a, b, 3.

You might also consider the packages manyfoot and bigfoot that provide multiple footnote schemes.

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As @UlrichSchwarz mentioned, you need a counter to store the footnote counter. However, by renewing \thefootnote, you don't need to restore that if you place the entire paragraph within a group. This way TeX will automatically restore any changes that were made local to the group.

Here's an example:

\documentclass{article}
\newcounter{savefootnote}% Save footnote counter
\begin{document}
Here is a paragraph\footnote{My footnote}. Here is another sentence.

Here is a paragraph\footnote{My footnote}. Here is another sentence.

\begingroup
\setcounter{savefootnote}{\value{footnote}}% Store footnote counter
\setcounter{footnote}{0}% Reset footnote counter
\renewcommand{\thefootnote}{\alph{footnote}}% Modify footnote printing
Here is a paragraph\footnote{My footnote}. Here is another sentence.
\setcounter{footnote}{\value{savefootnote}}% Restore footnote counter
\endgroup

Here is a paragraph\footnote{My footnote}. Here is another sentence.

Here is a paragraph\footnote{My footnote}. Here is another sentence.

Here is a paragraph\footnote{My footnote}. Here is another sentence.

\end{document}
​

enter image description here

Of course, if you don't mind that the \alph footnote starts anywhere, then you don't even need to save the footnote counter in the first place.

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I'm assuming you want to start the "temporary" footnote counter at zero (to get alphabetic "numbers" starting with "a", "b", ...) and, when the paragraph is completed, resume ordinary, i.e., arabic footnote numbering with the number you left off with before you switched temporarily to alphabetic footnote "numbering". If this understanding is correct, here's a solution:

... % text preceding the crucial paragraph(s)

\newcounter{tempfootnote}
\setcounter{tempfootnote}{\value{footnote}}
\setcounter{footnote}{0}
\renewcommand{\thefootnote}{\alph{footnote}}
... % text of the the crucial paragraph(s), including footnotes

\setcounter{footnote}{\value{tempfootnote}}
\renewcommand{\thefootnote}{\arabic{footnote}}
... % remainder of document, including footnotes

Note the blank lines, which serve to create paragraph breaks.

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@Werner: You posted your answer a few seconds before I did. :-) The advantage of your method is that it doesn't require the second \renewcommand{\thefootnote}{...} command -- at the "cost" of requiring a pair of \begingroup ... \endgroup statements, right? –  Mico Oct 5 '11 at 20:58
    
That's correct. A minor difference. –  Werner Oct 5 '11 at 22:36
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