The No-fail Way to Space Footnotes

Style manuals often require that footnotes be single spaced but have a blank line between them.

This is true for SBL style if you’re a student.1See the Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style, §3.3. It’s also true if you use Turabian.2See Manual for Writers, 9th ed., §

You shouldn’t try to create this spacing by entering a new paragraph after each note. You also shouldn’t try to adjust the paragraph formatting for each note.

Instead, the best way to space footnotes is by altering the “Footnote Text” style.

Once you edit the “Footnote Text” style, the formatting you specify will apply to all footnotes in your document, regardless of when you create them.

How You Should Actually Space Footnotes

To edit the “Footnote Text” style takes just a few simple steps.3I’m assuming you have a current version of Word via Office 365. These instructions are based on v16.0.12430.20198. They should work on other recent versions as well. But you’ll notice greater differences in the process if you have an older version of Word.

First, from the Home tab, expand the Styles panel.

Second, scroll through the list until you see the style titled “Footnote Text.” Click the drop-down button to the right of this style title, and choose “Modify….”

In the “Modify Style” dialog box, choose “Format” in the lower left-hand corner. Then click “Paragraph….”

From here, change the spacing “after” to 10 or 12 points.

If you use 10-point font in your footnotes, use a 10-point space after your footnote paragraphs. If you use 12-point font, use a 12-point space.

Press “OK.”

This will take you back to the “Modify Style” dialog box.

Decide whether you want to use this same style formatting in other documents based on the same Word template.

If so, choose the “New documents based on this template” option at the bottom of the “Modify Style” dialog box. Otherwise, leave the default “Only in this document” selected.

Press “OK” at the bottom of the “Modify Style” dialog box.

One Thing to Watch For

At this point, your document should automatically create and format footnotes with the proper spacing after them.

The only time you should need to give additional attention to footnote spacing is if you have a long footnote with more than one paragraph in it.

In this case, you’ll first want to consider whether the footnote is long enough to make it more helpful for your readers to have any discussion in it in the main text of your document.

If so, you could potentially split up the larger footnote into more than one and use the notes more purely for citations.

If you decide you want a longer, multi-paragraph note, you’ll only want to have additional spacing between that note and a following note. You won’t want additional spacing between the paragraphs within that note.

In Word, however, the “Footnote Text” style and the additional spacing you added to the end of it will apply to each paragraph in your multi-paragraph note.

In this case, you’ll need to remove the extra spacing from all but the final paragraph in the note.

You can do this either by directly modifying the formatting of the particular paragraphs where you need to omit the spacing. Or you can create and apply a different style to the paragraphs that shouldn’t have extra spacing after them.


Whenever you’ve finished a document, you’ll want to proofread it carefully to ensure you’re satisfied with its content and formatting.

But by adjusting the “Footnote Text” style, you’ll radically reduce the amount of time and effort you put into massaging your footnote spacing.

And having gained this back, you can reinvest it into the people and projects that matter most to you.

What method have you normally used to space footnotes?

Header image provided by Fabien Barral

Do You Make One of These Common Mistakes with Footnote Spacing?

Style manuals often require that footnotes be single spaced but have a blank line between them.

This is true for SBL style if you’re a student.1See the Student Supplement for The SBL Handbook of Style, §3.3. It’s also true if you use Turabian.2See Manual for Writers, 9th ed., §

You can insert this blank line a few different ways. Unfortunately, two of the more common ones can have undesirable side effects.

How Not to Space Footnotes

The two ways to space footnotes that might be most apparent are to:

  1. Enter an extra paragraph after each footnote or
  2. Format each footnote paragraph to insert extra space after it.

But each of these methods has downsides. These can cost you additional time if you want to avoid a mess at the bottom of a page.

What’s Wrong with Extra Paragraphs

If you decide to space your footnotes by inserting a new paragraph after each one (e.g., by pressing “Enter”), you can end up with a few different problems.

First, you have to manually enter the new paragraph after each footnote. So if you forget one, it won’t be there.

Second, your extra paragraph can move from after the last footnote on a page to above the first footnote on the next page.

This happens when there’s too much text on the page where the note starts to accommodate the full note and the extra paragraph that follows it. When this happens, you get an extra blank line that shouldn’t be there between the footnote rule and the first footnote on that next page (see below).

Third, Word uses a “continuation rule” whenever a footnote comes over from the bottom of one page to the next. By default, the continuation rule runs the full width of the page rather than just the first few inches.

So if your blank paragraph comes over from one page onto the next, you’ll also see the continuation rule when you shouldn’t. You’ll then get something that looks like this.

Fourth, in order to avoid these issues, you have to pay attention to the spacing after each footnote. As you edit, you may need to manually insert or remove extra paragraphs to avoid the problems they create.

All of this takes time and attention away from much more significant things you could be focusing on instead.

What’s Wrong with Formatting Each Footnote

You’re probably familiar with single or double spacing within a paragraph. But Word also allows you to insert extra space before or after a paragraph.

You can do this from the paragraph formatting dialog box. Footnotes are no exception.

You can even add spacing to all your footnotes at once with this method if you click into a given footnote, select all the footnotes (e.g., Ctrl+A), and then add the appropriate number of points after the footnote paragraphs.

If you space your footnotes using this method, you’ll get a lot fewer problems than you will with entering extra paragraphs.

In particular, Word will know that the extra space “attaches” only to the bottom of a footnote and so won’t allow just an extra blank line to roll over to the top of the footnote section on a following page.

The main downside of adding spacing via the paragraph dialog box is that your extra lines apply only once you’ve formatted each footnote paragraph individually.

In large part, you can avoid this being a problem by formatting your footnote to include extra space after them only in bulk when you think you’re finished editing.

But even then, if you continue editing and insert a new footnote, you’ll need to format that footnote as well.

So this method improves on the first but still requires you to “babysit” your footnotes more than you really need to.


In short, either of these common ways to space footnotes can get you a blank line between notes in a document.

They just require more hassle and cajoling than they’re worth.

Thankfully, there’s a better way to space between notes. This involves editing the style that drives those notes’ formatting in the first place.

Have you used one or both of these methods to space footnotes?

Header image provided by Fabien Barral

How to Avoid Missing Manuscript Images

INTF’s Liste search is a wonderful tool. But sometimes a transcription isn’t available, the default image is harder to read, or both.

In those cases, you might want to consult a different source for the images.

1. “External Images by …”

If you’ve just done a Liste search, you can click through the “External Images by …” link shown atop the left-hand fly out pane below.

2. Other Image Repositories

But there might be still other sets of images you can consult.

To find these, go back to the general Liste, and use the document ID to search for the particular manuscript you’re wanting to see.

You’ll then get a search result page that looks like this.

Scroll down until you see in the right-hand pane a section titled “External image Repo Name.”

This field returns any repositories logged in INTF’s database that have images of the manuscript you’ve searched for.

For 629, there’s just one.

In this case, you’ll get the same thing by clicking through this link as you would using the “External Images by …” link when you have 629 open in the image viewer.

But sometimes, you’ll see more than one external repository listed, as you will if you look up 1881.

If you open 1881, atop the image viewer, you’ll see only a link to CSNTM for external images. You won’t also see the Library of Congress link.

But from the initial Liste search results page, you can click through any external image repository link to view the manuscript images in that repository.

When you do so, you’ll want to know the page number and side (recto or verso) you’re looking for. You’ll need that information to find the corresponding place in the manuscript in the external site.

From there, it’s just a matter of paging through the images on the external site to find the proper page number and side.


Even given INTF’s tools, it still might take you some time to sift through the different image repositories to find exactly what you’re looking for.

But it’s comparatively so easy that I’m reminded of how much more applicable to us are Martin Luther’s comments to the German city councilmen in his day:

What great toil and effort it cost the[ fathers] to gather up a few crumbs, while we with half the labor—yes, almost without any labor at all—can acquire the whole loaf!1Quoted in Pratico and Van Pelt, Basics of Biblical Hebrew, 1st ed., §11.9.

Try checking a manuscript reading for yourself in an external image repository. What do you find there?

Header image provided by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

How to Quickly See Manuscript Information in INTF’s Database

If you try to find digitized Greek New Testament manuscripts through Google, you’ll likely find that search rather painful.

But once you’re familiar with INTF’s document ID system, it’s quite simple to use this ID to search their database.

From there, you can find detailed information about a particular manuscript, often including page images.

1. Find a Manuscript in the Database

When you load INTF’s Liste page, you’ll initially see the “Full Search” box as shown below.

Simply enter the proper document ID, then press enter or click the search button at the bottom of the pane (you might need to scroll down to see the button).

So, for instance, let’s say you want to consult manuscript 629. Since this is a minuscule, you’d search for “30629.”

You’ll then get just that one manuscript returned in the results in the left pane and a list of manuscript details in the right.

2. Find the Page You Need in a Given Manuscript

At this point, however, you still need to know where to look in this manuscript to find the text you want to review.

Sometimes, you might simply need to do this by paging through the manuscript’s images.

But INTF’s database often has at least some indexing available. To get to this, you’ll click the document ID number hyperlink (e.g., the “30629” shown in purple above).

This will take you to the manuscript work space. In the fly-over pane on the left-hand side, you can scroll up and down to review the middle “Content” column to find the particular page on which a given passage occurs.

So for instance, if you’re looking at something in 629 from Acts 1:1–12, you can find this on page 1. The recto has verses 1–6 (“1r”). The verso has verses 6–12 (“1v”).

You can click on any of these rows. Where it’s available, a transcription will then appear in the right-hand pane.

If you’re logged into INTF’s website, you’ll see in the image viewer INTF’s internal image for that page.

If INTF hasn’t granted you a user account, you may find the page image is restricted due to copyright (as shown above). In this case, you can follow the instructions in the image viewer area to request a user account.

(I’ve left the left-hand fly out menu open in the screenshot above to partly obscure the contact email address you’d use to request an account. You can see the full address by going to the manuscript work space for yourself and closing the left-hand fly out menu.)


INTF’s Liste search allows many more kinds of queries than pulling up any one manuscript.

But with the document ID handy, the Liste search makes it quite easy to see additional information about that manuscript—and possibly the manuscript itself.

Try looking up a manuscript for yourself. Does it have a transcription or publicly accessible images?

Header image provided by Kelly Sikkema via Unsplash

A Perspective on Adaptability and Productivity

Adaptability is a keystone of productivity.

You can find all manner of helpful advice about how to be more effective and productive. But not all of this advice is equally good for everyone at all times.

Force-fitting some guru’s advice into your situation may not be the best idea or give you the best results.

For you to work better requires you to be adaptable in your individual situation.

A Personal Example

What Normally Works

Normally, I time block my schedule so I can batch similar kinds of activities together.

Those activities might be research. They might be grading. They might be email.

For me in a “normal” week, that kind of discrete batching works well. I focus on one particular kind of activity for a while. And as needed, I use Freedom to help avoid “quick checks” distractions that dilute that focus.

When Circumstances Require Adaptability

But not all weeks are “normal,” let alone all days or months.

This is patently obvious amid recent efforts across the globe to address COVID-19. But I’d like to share a different story.

The Circumstances

Not long ago, my wife, Carrie, had an x-ray that showed she had a broken collar bone.

That meant she couldn’t lift anything with either arm, including our 18-month-old. And when you have an 18-month-old, you do a lot of lifting.

You might not think you do. But when you suddenly have restrictions on lifting, it’s surprising how many things you notice require lifting. 😉

All of this meant I was going to be home with Carrie and the kids rather than at the office.

It would have been best to have enough margin in my schedule so I didn’t have to worry about working while I was home with them. But that wasn’t the case.

There were still deadlines that had to be met and projects that had to get done. But what was normally an 8–9 hour continuous workday instantly became 2–4 hours very much spread out into comparatively small slices through the day.

And time blocking is pretty useless as a productivity strategy if

  1. you don’t know when you can schedule those time blocks or
  2. how long you can schedule them to run.

That didn’t really bother me. Being there for Carrie and the girls was an infinitely higher priority than anything else I had on tap for school.

But there were still things that had to get done for school.

The Adaptability

It took me a couple days. But I soon realized the best approach for me in those particular circumstances would be to rank my Todoist tasks for the day strictly in terms of priority—highest to lowest.

Whenever I had some time to work, I’d start at the top of the list and work down for however long until I needed to stop.

Whatever didn’t get done by the end of that day had to get rolled forward to a future day. But working from highest to lowest priority helped ensure that the things that didn’t get done were the things that weren’t as important anyhow.

This story’s twist is that about a week after the x-ray that showed Carrie had a broken collar bone, an MRI showed her collar bone was fine.

Instead, the problem was an inflamed shoulder joint. And she could start moving her shoulder and lifting again as much as she felt like until her shoulder got back to normal.

Two Lessons

From this story, I’d like to draw a couple lessons on the importance of adaptability to productivity.

1. Be Creatively Adaptable

First, productivity requires adaptability. You have to look for what works for you in your particular circumstances.

For instance, if you find yourself working from home while also taking care of kids, put it to yourself as an open question how you can creatively combine the two. Don’t assume they’re in conflict.

Sure, you can only put your attention on one thing at a time. But you’ll be more productive (not to mention, in this example, a better parent) if you take this situation as a challenge for your personal creativity to rise to rather than as an opportunity to bemoan how one obligation doesn’t allow you to focus fully on another.

2. Be a Whole Person

Second, recognize that you’re a whole person and need to live life as such.

You’re a spouse, a parent, a student, a teacher, a ministry leader in your church, and more.

Your life is complex. And because it’s complex, you might well be able to envision how your contributions in one area (e.g., school, church) could be better than you’re able to make them given everything else that’s also in your life.

It’s always good to prune lesser responsibilities that pull you away from those that are more important.

But once you’ve done that, you’ll still have a multi-faceted and complex life.—And that’s a good thing.

Give yourself grace to strive to do the best you can with the responsibilities in your life as a whole. And this may mean that one or some responsibilities don’t get everything you could imagine giving them in other circumstances.

But if you’ve pruned down to what’s really essential, “other circumstances” by definition means cutting or shirking something you consider essential. And long term, that’s a great recipe for regret.


So know what’s essential for you, and prune what isn’t.

And amid the complexities of what’s essential and the surprises life brings your way, stay adaptable and open.

Ask yourself the question “What’s best now?” And keep asking that question and being open to adjusting your answer to what your circumstances require.

What story do you have about how adaptability has proven key to your productivity?

Header image provided by Joshua Oluwagbemiga

How to Be Present Online amid COVID-19

In recent days, there’s been no shortage of announcements about plan changes and cancellations in the States due to increasing efforts to halt the spread of COVID-19. Education and biblical studies have been no exception.

The Society of Biblical Literature and Association of Theological Schools have both announced changes in plans or other advisories for upcoming meetings.

And a growing number of institutions have altered plans for spring classes. Many of these are at least temporarily moving online and away from the classroom.

Problems with Online Education?

Not least in theological education though, serious criticisms have sometimes been voiced about how appropriate online classes and programs are.

Do they adequately promote community? Do they adequately contribute to spiritual formation within that community?

Don’t they by definition run counter to what a formative community for theological education should really be?

Doesn’t the “online-ness” of online education necessarily involve the kind of absence that impoverishes theological education?

These questions bear serious and careful reflection, even and especially amid the need for appropriate and timely efforts to avoid fostering further spread of COVID-19.

Online and face-to-face education are obviously different. But the difference between the two isn’t a binary matter of presence or absence.

Instead, it’s a matter of different kinds of presence. And recognizing this fact paves the way for maintaining rich community—even when that community gathers online.

Thinking Differently about Presence

In his Summa Theologica, Thomas Aquinas observes that “a thing is wherever it operates.”1

So, “incorporeal things are in place not by contact of dimensive quantity, as bodies are, but by contact of power.”2

That is, physical bodies occupy space and are said to be in a particular place because they occupy that place’s space.

But incorporeal entities (e.g., God, the soul) are said to be in a particular place not because they “take up space” but because they exert power within that space.3

As it happens, cognitive, emotional, and social presence are incorporeal realities as well.

They may, therefore, be genuinely present through “contact of power”—through using one’s ability to act. And that ability may play out physically or in some other way.

All of this means that robust, formative community doesn’t have to go out the window if and when you find yourself engaging with others more online in coming days.

How a community interacts online will obviously be different from how they will interaction if everyone is sitting around a table together.

But there are any number of intensely practical ways to foster community as something that genuinely is there online.

Resources for Thinking about Presence in Online Education

If you’d like additional resources to help you consider what this may mean in your context, drop your name and email in the form below. I’ll then send you a couple articles that you might find helpful.

One goes deeper analyzing presence as I’ve summarized above.4 The other discusses how you can foster formative community in online education.5

The coming weeks are sure to see further adjustments as institutions continue grappling with how they want to help restrict COVID-19.

If those shifts take you increasingly online, I hope you’ll find these thoughts helpful as you work to maintain meaningful and formative community amid those changes.

How is your church, institution, or organization working to continue its mission while responding to COVID-19?

  1. Thomas Aquinas, Summa Theologica, trans. Fathers of the English Dominican Province, 22 vols. (London: Burns, Oates, and Washbourne, 1913), I.8.1. 
  2. Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I.8.2; see also Aquinas, Summa Theologica, I.8.3. 
  3. Cf. Thomas Aquinas, A Summa of the Summa, ed. Peter Kreeft, trans. The Fathers of the English Dominican Province (San Francisco: Ignatius, 1990), 103n62. 
  4. J. David Stark, “Being Present at a Distance,” Didaktikos 1.2 (2018): 12–13. 
  5. J. David Stark, “Gaming the System: Online Spiritual Formation in Christian Higher Education,” TEd 52.2 (2019): 43–53. 

Header image provided by Nathan Dumlao