I have a series of static numbers in my InDesign CS6 document (e.g. 256, 257, 258, 259...).

All numbers have a given character style (i.e. Footnote).

I would like to find the numbers and renumber them starting from 1.

The result should be instead of 256, 257, 258... I get 1, 2, 3... until the end of the story/document/selection

The best help I could find online is here which is a response about using a variable in find and replace. However, I am afraid I am not a coder so I couldn't make much sense of the answer myself.

I have seen Peter Kahrel's Price adjuster but it is not quite what I need.

Lastly, there is an InDesignSecrets explanation of Sequential Numbering Inside Paragraphs which would be good if the footnotes could be added automatically e.g. through a replace. To my knowledge there is no GREP code for footnote which can be used in the change box.

Thank you,

  • Are you trying to make page numbers?
    – AndrewH
    Apr 3, 2019 at 15:36
  • No. The numbers are actually static end notes. But regardless, the question as I envisaged it is about numbers within paragraphs within stories, not on there own in separate text frames etc.
    – Ad Astm
    Apr 3, 2019 at 15:42

3 Answers 3


To my knowledge there is no GREP code for footnote which can be used in the change box.

You are right, but there's a super-easy workaround: Just add a footnote, cut it and use grep ~c meta-character in the change box. ~c means clipboard content.

Along with the Indesignsecrets technique you described, you should be able to achieve what you want...

  • Thank you! I was aware of this but for some reason I assumed I would not be able to do this with a footnote, effectively cutting and pasting. I will write up an answer.
    – Ad Astm
    Apr 4, 2019 at 12:00

Here a trick:

Numbered list

Paragraph Style

Create a Paragraph Style with a numbered list and apply this paragraph style to all the numbers. If all the numbers have a character style, make a find/replace to apply the new paragraph style.

In this paragraph style make a numbered list with a New List and leave just the number: ^#. Mode: Continue from Previous.

With this you will have all the numbers with a numbered list (1, 2, 3, 4...) before.

numbered list

Grep Style

To make the numbers disappear, except the numbered list, make a Grep Style that will apply to all the numbers. In this example all the numbers \d+ will have the EMPTY character style.

Grep Style

Character Style

The EMPTY character style must have all the options to make an invisible character:

  • Size: 0,1
  • Leading: 0
  • Tracking: -1000
  • Horizontal Scale: 1%
  • Vertical Scale: 1%
  • Character Color: none

Note: This answer has been made before the addition in the comment which doesn't appear in the original question: the numbers are "not on there own in separate text frames"

  • Thank you so much @Danielillo for an excellent response. Sorry for the confusion but I did mention I was working with a document and a story. In my research I came across another work around which uses the footnote feature for the numbering and reduces the size of the actual note (like you have done) so only the footnote reference is seen. I will edit my post with a link. I am sure your response will help others.
    – Ad Astm
    Apr 4, 2019 at 8:59

InDesign appears to have limited sequential numbering options. For this reason footnotes are used to create the sequential numbers. The footnote references are formatted as required and the footnote text can be formatted to be invisible.


  1. Insert a footnote anywhere in the Document and then cut it.
  2. Open the GREP search dialogue and search for required string, in this case "\d+" (i.e. 1 or more digits) and required formatting, in this case "Superscript".
  3. In the change box type "~c" (or "~C" if formatting not required)
  4. complete find and replace where found text is replaced with clipboard contents (i.e. the footnote which had been cut)
  5. Create a paragraph style called "Invisible" with 0.1 pt font size, 0pt leading, no colour, etc.
  6. Go to TYPE > DOCUMENT FOOTNOTE OPTIONS and specify that each footnote should use the Invisible paragraph style. Rules should also be removed.
  7. The result should be that all the static digits are replaced with sequentially numbered footnote references. The footnote text is then made invisible so nobody can tell this is a work around.

METHOD 2 Steps 1 to 4 above can be done by running the following script, written by Peter Kahrel but modified by me so that only numbers in the Superscript character style are found.

app.findGrepPreferences = null;
app.findGrepPreferences.findWhat = '\\d+';
app.findGrepPreferences.appliedCharacterStyle = 'Superscript';
found = app.activeDocument.findGrep();
for (i = found.length-1; i >= 0; i--) {

Formore information see the threads Use GREP to Put In Footnote Reference and convert text to footnote.

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