Let's take an example. Let's say I have the following foonotes. "Here, the author is making an indirect reference to the expression "(something) fighting" often used in esports."

and then put a footnote on "something fighting" that say: "In a nutshell, ‘Fighting!’ (pronounced as “hwaiting” or “paiting”) is a word of encouragement. With your fists pumped high, it’s used to cheer someone on, wish them luck, or express your support. Think of saying ‘Good luck!” or ‘You got this!” in English."

Is this ok, and how do you do footnotes for footnotes, do you have to put in a section below footnotes or what?

  • This is something that's done well for comic effect by Terry Pratchett in his fiction. I wouldn't recommend it for serious writing, and would recommend you investigate alternatives (sidebox, appendix, whatever). Feb 8, 2023 at 15:34

2 Answers 2


It's unusual, but I've definitely seen that somewhere in the Discworld books. It was pretty much treated the same way as when a second footnote on the same page comes up, only the symbol pointing to it was not in the main text but in the footnote above. Just two (or five) footnotes at the bottom of the page, one after another.

  • 1
    While that is true, the question is tagged as "technical writing". They might be looking for something more professional than a fantasy series that (despite its occasionally heavy themes) doesn't take itself too seriously.
    – Llewellyn
    Feb 7, 2023 at 21:46

It is possible. But is it a good idea? Probably not.

My opinion of explanatory footnotes is that it shows the author to be just a bit lazy. One imagines that they gave an early draft to their friends for review. And instead of re-writing to account for the comments, they put in explanatory footnotes.

"You didn't explain what a Boggle is here?" "OK, I'll put it in a footnote so I don't have to re-write the text."

And after a few dozen comments like that get dealt with that way, you find you've got multiple footnotes at the bottom of nearly every page.

I try to avoid footnotes except in the case of academic styled documents where I'm giving citations. Instead, I re-write the text to put the info in the text.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service and acknowledge you have read our privacy policy.

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