Footnote/Endnote references before or after punctuation? (comma, full stop/period, semi-colon…)

Simple question: what’s the convention (or, if there’s disagreement, guiding principles) for where to place reference, footnote and endnote numbers that apply to a clause leading up to a punctuation mark such as a comma or full stop/period?

E.g. in this example, should it be like [1] and [2], or like [a] and [b]?

Lorem ipsum dolor sit amet[1], consectetur adipisicing elit,[a] sed do
eiusmod tempor incididunt ut labore et dolore magna aliqua[2]. Ut enim ad
minim veniam, quis nostrud exercitation ullamco laboris nisi ut
aliquip ex ea commodo consequat.[b]

Before the punctuation looks seriously ugly, but after can make there seem to be a disconnect between the reference and what it refers to.


In German language the rule is very simple:

  • If the footnote or endnote refers to a single word, the footnote sign must directly follow the word. So your note [1] and [2] refers only to the words “amet” and “aliqua”.
  • If the footnote or endnote refers to a complete sentence the footnote sign must directly follow the punctuation of the sentence. So your note [b] refers to the complete sentence before. In German I never saw a footnote [a] refering to the half sentence before the comma. I do not know whether it is allowed in English.

To summarize: the position of the footnote sign depends on the point you want to refer.

Please keep in mind that the footnote sign has to follow the word or sentence without a blank (directly). In German footnote signs have no brackets, so you will only find a superscript number or a sign like dagger etc.

Source : Link , Question Author : user56reinstatemonica8 , Answer Author : Mensch

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