Tips for Making Better Footnotes and Keeping them Up-to-date


Have you ever discovered quoted text in a footnote, but can’t find that text in the verse? This happens when the verse text is updated and the footnote is no longer relevant.   Have you ever struggled to verify the references cited in a footnote, or had trouble keeping book abbreviations consistent?  This article will show you how to make your footnotes in a way that Paratext can help you check them for problems like these.

Quoted Text in a Footnote

Any time you quote words from the translated text in your footnote, you should mark them with the quoted text marker “fq”.  This will let Paratext know that the word or phrase is a quotation and the quoted text check will alert you when the verse and footnote no longer match. During the life of a project, it is very common to change the renderings of biblical terms of modify the spellings, causing footnotes to be out of date.  Running the Basic Checks on your project will ensure that the quoted text always matches what is in the verse.

How to Mark Text with fq Marker

There are two main ways to apply the quoted text marker.  The first is insert the footnote while the word or phrase you wish to comment on is highlighted.  This method copies the text from the verse, and pastes it into the footnote with the appropriate fq markers.  The second is to manually insert the markers and type the text into the footnote. We will show the first method below:

Insert Footnote after Highlighting Text

  1. Highlight the text you want to appear in the footnote:
  2. Right-click on the selection and choose Insert Footnote:

    Paratext creates the footnote inserting the reference, the fq marker and the word or phrase from the text.
  3. Type what you want to say about the text. If the footnote will include an alternative to the text as it appears in the verse, use the Quoted Text Alternative marker fqa.  Because fqa  text is different, Paratext will not compare it with the verse text.

    When you use fq markers for footnote text, Paratext will ensure that the quoted text matches what is in the verse and will alert you if they are out of sync.

Don’t like how Footnotes Look?

A common objection to using the fq marker is that it  produces italicized text, and many users want the word or phrases cited to appear in bold.  The key-term marker fk produces a bold text so it is often used in this context.  You can change the default appearance of a style by creating a custom stylesheet for your project.   Find information about customizing stylesheets in the Paratext Help.  Of course, when publishing your text you can ask the typesetter to use the style of your choice for the fq marked text.

When Not to Use the fq Marker

In certain places, the quotation in the footnote is of an alternate rendering.  It follows the same pattern as the Scripture text, but is an alternate text.  Because this text will not be found in the verse, it must be marked with fqa.  Paratext will format it the same as fq but will not check to see if it matches the verse text.

Scripture References in a Footnote

Footnotes sometimes cite other verses in the Bible.  These references should use the same book abbreviations as the rest of your Bible, and they should not refer to verses that do not exist (e.g. 1 John 20:4).  Checking these references is very tedious work but Paratext will do it automatically if you mark the references in your footnotes with the Target Reference marker xt.

The example below shows a footnote that refers to a Psalm that supports an alternate reading of the text.

You’ll notice that the xt marker activated the Scripture reference check. (Note: The Scripture reference check will only work if the Scripture Reference Settings have been configured.  See Paratext Help for more information on Scripture Reference settings.)  The red x on the book icon indicates that there is a problem with the reference.  In the Scripture reference settings for the project, Psa is indicated as the short name for Psalms. Correcting Ps to Psa will remove the red x as the reference now passes the automatic Scripture Reference check:


By using the fq and fqa markers, you can more easily keep the contents of my footnotes up-to-date.  Finding all the places where the footnotes need changes after a  ten-year project would be vary hard.  Consider using these markers if you are not doing so already and see how much they can help you.

Keeping book abbreviations and the format of references consistent and correct throughout an entire project is a big challenge.  Consider using the cross reference-target reference marker xt in footnotes that cite another reference.  I think you will find that you will be able to correct many errors in your footnotes.


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