Footnotes in Document Comparison

Brass Contributor

I recently encountered this issue and I am hoping someone can point me to a very detailed documentation of how footnotes function in Word.  Here was the problem:

When comparing documents, footnotes at times show as fully removed and then reinserted.  In the modified document a new footnote 1 was added.  This pushes all the other footnotes up by one count.  Most of them showed as they should, with only the old footnote reference being removed and the new number being inserted, but the text of the note showing no changes.  However, a few of them showed up as fully removed and reinserted (so, what was footnote 3 is now 4, but the text is the same so only the number should show changing--but instead the whole note 3 shows as a deletion, and the whole note 4 shows as an insertion).


I want to understand why this would happen.  I took the footnotes.xml file out of the archive to look at it, but I am still learning where that is concerned. I could not identify anything that might cause this problem.  Something about how footnotes are identified/linked to the paragraph that anchors them is the cause--but I don't know anything about how that works.


Does anyone have resources that are detailed I could use to research the footnote function in-depth?

3 Replies
Hello Rich89,
the only (and usual) time I see what you describe is when the deleted/(re)inserted is is actually a field, or when the style changes. Then the text in old style gets "deleted" and "inserted" as if it was a new text.
Might it help to remove the formatting option before doing the comparison?

I was able to replicate the problem by making a document where I add a new footnote 1, forcing what was 1 to 2, deleting the paragraph housing the original footnote, and moving that footnote to a new paragraph where there are no similarities to the original paragraph.  I did this without changing any styles.  I'll attach something here so you can see it.


What I find interesting, and not ideal, is that if the new paragraph in the MODIFIED has any matching word to the ORIGINAL paragraph, then that will resolve this issue.  For example, do a comparison using my attached documents here.  You'll see that the footnote 2 doesn't show as changing from 1 to 2.  Now, open MODIFIED and remove "Test" from the end of the second paragraph, and the problem I describe in my post will appear in the comparison.  Interestingly, you can also leave the word "Test" but just make the 'T' lowercase, and this will also trigger this issue.


What I want to understand is why this happens.  I now know that if the text of the paragraph changes, then the footnote will show as being deleted and reinserted. I want to see some documentation I can read that will help me learn why it behaves this way because this is an accuracy issue.  That footnote was never deleted, so it should not s how as having been deleted.


I hear you :-).
The why's are important.

Well, this is a question for an MS developer. Eager to read the answer, as I have a couple of why's myself. L.