Blind Endnotes

When working with blind endnotes, a number of factors should be considered to maximize efficiency and provide the most useful output in both print and digital environments.

Scribe discourages the use of blind endnotes, particularly in academic monographs and non-narrative works.

The nature of blind endnotes is to hide navigation points from the reader. Often, this is done to prevent any disruption to the narrative flow in a work of fiction or memoir. Instead of providing a direct marker in the text to indicate the correspondence between the endnote reference in the body and the endnote number in the note paragraph, the note references the text by the page number, usually followed by the word or key phrase indicating the start of the text being annotated.

To implement blind endnotes, then, the key phrase must be identified, the endnote markers need to be coordinated to ensure that the proper page is referenced, and extra steps must be performed to ensure proper function in an e-book output. This ultimately can lead to an inconsistency of the notes treatment between print and digital editions, which may be undesirable to publishers.

By contrast, the use of traditional endnotes feeds into the standard processes of the Well-Formed Document Workflow without the need for extra steps or associated costs. Most of the effort for blind endnotes occurs at the editing or proofreading stages. Handling them properly in the typeset involves using the Scribe Tools for InDesign to generate the page numbers associated with each note by looking at the hidden note markers: endnote references (enref) in the body of the book and endnote numbers (ennum) in the endnote paragraphs. The effort, and therefore the associated cost, increases if the typesetter has to add the key phrases as a set of corrections after a book has already been typeset.

Typesetting Treatment

Typesetting blind endnotes involves the following steps:

  • Hide the enref and ennum markers. This is typically done by making the numbers very small, applying a tracking of -1000, and using the “none” or “paper” options for character color.

  • Use the Scribe Tool for InDesign Endnotes > Link Endnotes for PDF to add links between enrefs and ennums.

  • Run the Scribe Tool for InDesign Endnotes > Add Pages to Endnotes to add the page numbers to the endnotes. This script looks at the source and the destination to determine the page of the corresponding, linked enref, then adds “Page #” immediately after the ennum.

  • Search for “Page ” within tso-altblindendnotepagenumber character style to remove or replace this wording, as needed.

Identifying Key Phrases Before Typesetting

This is best from a production standpoint, as it requires the least amount of manual effort.

If key phrases are identified before typesetting, the enref can be placed at the start of the key phrase, and a placeholder marker at the end (where the enref originally was).

Both will be hidden in the typeset, and the endnotes would use the enref at the start of the key phrase in order to generate the page location listed in the book.

Note: If the enref is not at the start of the key phrase, the page listing could be inaccurate if any phrases cross over pages, with the key phrase on one page and the hidden enref on another. The page number listed with the endnote should not point to the page after the one on which the key phrase occurs.

Identifying Key Phrases After First Pages Typesetting

If key phrases are not identified until after first pages have been typeset, requiring an author or proofreader to select the phrases and provide a corrections list, the typesetter must perform the following actions:

  • Rename the style on the original enrefs as an available “custom” style in InDesign's style sheet.

  • Insert the new enrefs into the typeset.

  • Add the key phrases to the endnote paragraphs, replacing any placeholder text.

  • Rerun the blind endnotes InDesign tool to provide accurate page numbers, ensuring that the page listed contains the key phrase.

E-book Treatment

Revert to Traditional Endnotes in E-book

This is Scribe’s recommended approach.

Because the nature of pagination is different in an e-book, publishers often choose to revert blind notes back to traditional endnotes, with the enref visible at the end of the indicated passage and the ennum visible at the start of each endnote paragraph. The page reference as seen in the print version should be excluded from the e-book version. This is removed automatically when exporting XML from InDesign because of the use of the tso-altblindendnotepagenumber character style.

The enref, located at the start of the passage in the typeset, and the custom style used to mark the end, should be reversed so that the enref appears at the end of the passage. The custom style should be commented out in the ScML file to exclude the marker from the e-book output.

The visible enref will link to the endnote, and the endnote will link back to this enref. Visible note numbers like this are of course no longer blind, but they create the most accurate note linking function and easiest navigation for the person reading the e-book.

Retain Blind Endnotes in E-book

If keeping the notes fully blind, the page number from the endnote paragraph should be linked to the page ID in the book (a manual step when preparing the .scml file). Backlinking from the endnote will go to the ID that indicates where that page started in the print book, not to the key phrase.

Note: If the page number needs to be retained when exporting content from this InDesign file, the tso-altblindendnotepagenumber character style should be removed from the style sheet before exporting XML from InDesign.


If a Web PDF is also being created, it will resemble the print PDF for the use of blind endnotes, as the Web PDF is derived from the InDesign file.

If the blind notes were generated using the Scribe Tools, they will automatically link the page numbers generated for the endnotes to the listed page numbers in the Web PDF. This is done by matching the page number generated by the Scribe tool to the hidden enref’s location. (If a page number has been edited manually, it will still link to the enref’s location, not the edited page number.) This is a one-way link from the note to the body page. Because the note is blind, there is no return link present on the body page.

Consider the time and cost of using blind endnotes, as well as the effect on readers in both print and digital environments, when deciding whether blind endnotes are the best choice for a publication.