How can I disable the [n] being linked to a footnote and highlighted? [n] can be many things, like any index of an array. So, I want my footnotes to be[fn:n]and only[fn:n]`.

2 Answers 2


An old post to an emacs-orgmode mailing list I found suggests one of the two following solutions (I have not tested these) should work:

  1. Add #+DISABLE_PLAIN_FOOTNOTES: some arbitrary text to your org-mode file.

  2. Add to your .emacs file:

    (defun jb/disable-plain-footnotes-hack ()
       (if (plist-get opt-plist :no-plain-footnotes)
            (goto-char 1)
            (replace-regexp "\\[\\([0-9]+\\)\\]" "[\u200B\\1]"))))
    (add-to-list 'org-export-inbuffer-options-extra
    '("DISABLE_PLAIN_FOOTNOTES" :no-plain-footnotes))
    (add-hook 'org-export-preprocess-hook

Given the age of the post I found this in, any recent version of emacs org-mode should work with the first solution.

  • That won't work in general, it won't export the footnotes, but still treat [n] as one during editing. Mar 4, 2014 at 2:04

I ran into this as well, so I asked on emacs.SE. Overriding the regular expression functions as in this answer works nicely. Reproducing this here:

Override the org-footnote-re and org-footnote-definition-re functions by using this in your .emacs file:

(setq org-footnote-definition-re "^\\[fn:[-_[:word:]]+\\]"
      org-footnote-re            (concat "\\[\\(?:fn:\\([-_[:word:]]+\\)?:"

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