Footnotes for referencing

Reader’s question: When using footnotes, where should the number link be located – before or after the punctuation mark (e.g. comma, semicolon)?

Answer: I think punctuation with footnotes is a style issue, but the Australian government Style Manual (2002) says:

‘Superscript placement: 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.’

I translate this to mean that you put a footnote link before a comma or semicolon, but after a full stop.

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