I am writing my thesis and I need to know the correct way of putting the reference.

For example:

This is a sentence taken from someone [2].

This is a sentence taken from someone[2].

This is a sentence taken from someone. [2]

This is a sentence taken from someone.[2]

As you see in the four sentences above, there are differences in the space placement and the dot placement; which one of these is correct? (or are they all wrong?)

  • Here's a comprehensive guide on how to write the BIBLIOGRAPHY and LIST OF REFERENCES in your thesis.
    – BiscuitBoy
    Jan 22, 2016 at 11:49
  • @BiscuitBoy I can't understand that link you provided, there is nothing about references. could you specify which part i should read to know how to write the reference. should I read all of it to know the place of a reference :) :)
    – sarah
    Jan 22, 2016 at 11:52
  • It depends on what style you're following. For example, if you are following the Chicago Manual of Style, it has a predefined rule for citations
    – BiscuitBoy
    Jan 22, 2016 at 12:04
  • @BiscuitBoy my friend, i don't know the name of the style I'm using, but I showed it to you in my question. In other words, I'm not asking about the hundreds of styles that exist for citing a reference, I just need to know what is the correct way in the style I've mentioned. Am i more clear now?
    – sarah
    Jan 22, 2016 at 12:14

2 Answers 2


It depends on what style you're using. If the number in square brackets indicates a superscript number for a footnote, it goes after all punctuation (including any quotation marks). The Chicago Manual of Style recommends that footnote numbers follow all punctuation except a dash.

She said, "It is wrong to write on a Wednesday."2

This is exactly what Lauren Ipsum recommended earlier.

APA style works differently. It indicates citations with parentheses rather than superscript or brackets. Citations go inside the quotation and are are preceded by a space. So:

This is a sentence using an idea taken from someone (2).

If it's a direct quote, things are slightly more tricky. The citation usually follows the quote marks but comes before other punctuation. This may involve removing the punctuation from the end of the quotation so you can add it after the quote.

He said it was "an outrage and a shame" (2).

I'm not 100% sure what you'd do in cases where the quote ends in an exclamation mark or question mark—if, say, the original quote was "This is an outrage and a shame!" I don't see anything in the style guides I've checked (look it up under "direct quotations") but I think I would probably add an extra period.

He said, "This is an outrage and a shame!" (2).

  • I've added a superscript tag to your answer so the footnote does what you want it to do. Jan 22, 2016 at 21:12

As a typesetter, I would put the number after the period, no space, and then superscript it:

this is a sentence taken from someone.[2]

I feel like this is the most visually pleasing, since the footnote is snugged up to the period, doesn't leave ugly white space under it, and is smaller so it doesn't draw so much attention to itself.

Whether this is correct in terms of various style guides I have no idea.

  • I don't think make it that way is correct, it should be the same size as the text, because it is not a footnote, it is a reference. at least that's my opinion, i don't have sure.
    – sarah
    Jan 22, 2016 at 14:35

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