I am used to create new footnotes in Emacs Org Mode with the key binding C-c C-x f.

But now there are shown several options in the echo area, when I use this key binding, although the cursor is not on a footnote reference or definition. and I did not use a prefix argument. And I didn't change any variables or configurations (intentional).

2 Answers 2


Let's look at the docstring of org-footnote-action (emphasis mine):

(org-footnote-action &optional SPECIAL)

Do the right thing for footnotes.

When at a footnote reference, jump to the definition.

When at a definition, jump to the references if they exist, offer to create them otherwise.

When neither at definition or reference, create a new footnote, interactively if possible.

With prefix arg SPECIAL, or when no footnote can be created, offer additional commands in a menu.

So it seems that when point is at beginning of line it is considered no footnote can be created. Arguably, this could be made more explicit.

I actually wonder if it's a bug: the test is performed by function org-footnote--allow-reference-p, where one can read on the source (for org-version 9.1.14):

(defun org-footnote--allow-reference-p ()
  "Non-nil when a footnote reference can be inserted at point."
  ;; XXX: This is similar to `org-footnote-in-valid-context-p' but
  ;; more accurate and usually faster, except in some corner cases.
  ;; It may replace it after doing proper benchmarks as it would be
  ;; used in fontification.
  (unless (bolp)

As we can see, the beginning of line test is the very first one. Also, it turns out that the mentionned org-footnode-in-valid-context-p function does return t when point is at beginning of line.


By chance I found my mistake: The cursor was at the beginning of a line.

But I don't understand exactly what's the problem. Perhaps it is in conjunction with the variable org-footnote-define-inline, which defines where the footnote appears.

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