Superscript note identifiers: Inside or outside punctuation?June 12, 2014
Alexa asked about the placement of superscripted footnote indicators in relation to punctuation:
Example A: Mackerel are pelagic;10 living near the surface… OR Mackerel are pelagic10; living near the surface… (i.e. does the ’10’ come after or before the the semicolon?)
Example B: …vertical magenta stripes on the body.9, 11, 13 OR …vertical magenta stripes on the body9, 11, 13. (i.e. do the note identifiers come before or after the period/full stop?)
As Alexa is in Australia and is writing for an Australian audience, I consulted the Australian Style Manual (6th edition) for guidance.
The Australian Style Manual says this (p209):
Place superscript note identifiers:
- At the end of a sentence or clause, rather than immediately after the words to which they relate
- Before all punctuation marks save the end-of-sentence ones
- Wherever possible, immediately after direct quotations.
Avoid using superscript note identifiers in headings.
Bullet 2 of the Style Manual‘s guidance is the most relevant one to these examples. Following that guidance, in Example A you’d place the note identifier BEFORE the semicolon (i.e. …pelagic10; …) and in Example B, you’d place the note identifier after the full stop (i.e. …the body.9, 11, 13 ).
I also looked up other style guides. Some of the American style guides give similar advice; others differ.
So my advice to Alexa was to go with the Australian Style Manual’s guidance in this instance as her audience is Australian.