# [OS X TeX] Initial indentation in footnotes

Michael Sharpe msharpe at ucsd.edu
Thu Sep 1 01:07:25 CEST 2016

> On Aug 31, 2016, at 12:54 PM, Stephen Anderson <sra at yale.edu> wrote:
>
> I am trying to produce a new edition of an old publication, with a translation on facing pages. In the original, some footnotes are continued on a following page, with no number and no initial indentation.  I would like to reproduce this format as faithfully as possible. The unnumbered footnote I can produce with the following macro:
>
> \newcommand\blfootnote[1]{%
>  \begingroup
>  \renewcommand\thefootnote{}\footnote{#1}%
>  \addtocounter{footnote}{-1}%
>  \endgroup
> }
>
> However, I am having a problem suppressing the initial indentation LaTeX wants to insert in this note. \noindent (before the #1 argument) doesn’t work, because this indentation is not produced by a normal indent, but rather (apparently) by inserting a box containing the footnote number before the text. I can get close by putting \hspace*{-2em} before the #1, but (a) that’s not the exact amount I need, and (b) this brute force approach is the wrong way to do it.  Diligent search has so far failed to turn up a definition of the amount of space inserted between the left margin and beginning of the footnote text (something like \parindent), so I don’t know how to improve on this “solution”.
>
> Can someone tell me how this dimension is defined? Alternatively, is there a way to write the \blfootnote macro so as to suppress the insertion of whatever it is that produces the indentation and the footnote mark? All of the hints I find on the web involve packages that will change the formatting of footnotes in general, but that’s not what I want.  I want to be able to produce a couple of individual notes that arent formatted like the others.

The code for a footnote appearance is set in the cls file. In article.cls, the relevant definition is

\newcommand\@makefntext[1]{%
\parindent 1em%
\noindent
\hb at xt@1.8em{\hss\@makefnmark}#1}

which is equivalent, in more familiar LaTeX, to

\newcommand\@makefntext[1]{%
\setlength \parindent{1em}%
\noindent
\makebox[1.8em][r]{\@makefnmark}#1}

The last line tells the indentation story. The footnote marker is set inside a box of fixed width 1.8em, right aligned in the box. To change the indentation, you need to redefine how the footnote marker is set. For example, to get the marker flush left with a space between it and the footnote text, the last line should be

\@makefnmark\space #1}

If you wish this definition to apply to only a couple of footnotes rather than all, you have to be careful to place the redefinition inside a group, along with the \footnote.

Michael

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