# Is a three-column footnote layout possible?

I'm contemplating the idea of a document layout where citations are author-year-style, but given as footnotes. That is, those notes would be (for the most part) very short, which is a bad match for the one-column footnote layout of the standard classes. One possible remedy is to consolidate footnotes into a single paragraph per page, as done (e.g.) by the para option of the footmisc package:

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage[para]{footmisc}

\begin{document}

\null\vfill% just for the example

Some text.\footnote{Author 2001} Some more text.\footnote{Buthor 2002}
And some more.\footnote{Cuthor 2003} Does this text ever end?\footnote{Duthor 2004}
Yes.\footnote{Euthor 2005}

\end{document}


Another option is to typeset footnotes in two columns (with the running text still one-column). This can be achieved with the dblfnote package:

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{dblfnote}
\DFNalwaysdouble% no attempt to fit footnotes into a single column

\begin{document}

\null\vfill% just for the example

Some text.\footnote{Author 2001} Some more text.\footnote{Buthor 2002}
And some more.\footnote{Cuthor 2003} Does this text ever end?\footnote{Duthor 2004}
Yes.\footnote{Euthor 2005}

\end{document}


What I'm looking for is a layout similar to that of dblfnote, but with footnotes typeset in three columns. Can this be done with reasonable effort? (I'm hoping for a clever hack of either dblfnote's macros or of the typesetting routines of the multicol package.)

Notes: multicol-like column balancing is not required, and I'm indifferent as to whether column breaks within footnotes should be permitted or not (dblfnote offers both options).

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Maybe this can give some inspiration? – Stephan Lehmke Aug 30 '12 at 14:51
@StephanLehmke It's a great answer that makes me confident that my request can be solved -- though my problem seems to different/easier, namely, that no overflow from marginpars to footnotes is required (or permitted). – lockstep Aug 30 '12 at 14:56
I understood that much. With "inspiration" I meant you could just delete the margin stuff from the code ;-) – Stephan Lehmke Aug 30 '12 at 14:58
I'm staring in awe at it right now, but (at least to me) it's not obvious what exactly should "just" be deleted. :-) – lockstep Aug 30 '12 at 15:01
Though this might get tricky because I also use the margin as a "dust bin" for lines overflowing from the footnote area because of widow/orphans. The insertion mechanism practically requires that "height of n-column footnote area = height of footnote material / n", which is not good for column breaking. – Stephan Lehmke Aug 30 '12 at 15:02

The memoir class provides three-column footnotes. In all it provides four kinds of footnote layouts: normal, two-column, three-column, and run together in a single paragraph.

\documentclass{memoir}

\threecolumnfootnotes

\begin{document}

\null\vfill% just for the example

Some text.\footnote{Author 2001} Some more text.\footnote{Buthor 2002}
And some more.\footnote{Cuthor 2003} Does this text ever end?\footnote{Duthor 2004}
Yes.\footnote{Euthor 2005}

\end{document}


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This is great -- now I only have to get the memoir code to work for other classes. :-) I hope you don't mind that I added a compilable example. – lockstep Aug 30 '12 at 18:51
I'm glad you added the compilable example --- I've managed to kill the Ubuntu OS where I use (La)TeX on my PC and am still struggling to get it back without killing everything else as well. I think that I based memoir's extra footnote code on that in the ledmac package. Do you really need anything else than memoir (or perhaps beamer?) ;-) – Peter Wilson Aug 30 '12 at 19:31
Let's just say that I want users of the standard and KOMA-Script classes also to benefit from three-column footnotes. ;-) And another thanks for the ledmac tip! – lockstep Aug 30 '12 at 19:39

As pointed out by Peter Wilson, memoir's code for three-column footnotes is based on that of the ledmac package. That is, one can enable such a layout also for other classes than memoir with the following caveats:

• Contrary to the standard classes, footnotes (here: the ones in the first column) won't be indented;

• The ledmac footnotes don't feature an optional argument to change the number of individual notes.

Also note that both the memoir class and the ledmac package permit column breaks within individual footnotes.

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage{ledmac}
\footthreecolX{A}

\let\footnote\footnoteA

\begin{document}

\null\vfill% just for the example

Some text.\footnote{Author 2001} Some more text.\footnote{Buthor 2002}
And some more.\footnote{Cuthor 2003} Does this text ever end?\footnote{Duthor 2004}
Yes.\footnote{Euthor 2005}

\end{document}


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ledmac seems to be deprecated. Could you give us an update with reledmac, if possible? Thank you. – LaRiFaRi Mar 11 at 14:46

With bidi package (well, sorry if you do not need bidirectional typesetting but it provides extensive tools for footnotes), you can typeset footnotes in 1 to 10 columns. In addition you can typeset paragraph footnotes too. Here is an example:

\documentclass{article}

\usepackage[extrafootnotefeatures]{bidi}
\threecolumnfootnotes

\begin{document}

\null\vfill% just for the example

Some text.\footnote{Author 2001} Some more text.\footnote{Buthor 2002}
And some more.\footnote{Cuthor 2003} Does this text ever end?\footnote{Duthor 2004}
Yes.\footnote{Euthor 2005}

\end{document}


In addition you can also control the direction of the column of footnotes. For details see the documentation of bidi package.

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+1, though you might want to add a hint that the bidi package requires Xe(La)TeX or Lua(La)TeX. – lockstep Dec 6 '12 at 10:45
@lockstep it tells me that XeTeX is required when I try to compile it with LuaLaTeX – LaRiFaRi Mar 11 at 14:46