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For a particular work, I need old style footnotes, that are typeset before the word they refer to.

So I call \footnote before the word and it works fine, but it adds a space after the footnote mark. How can I get read of this space (in essence, the opposite of \xspace)?

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Just use \ignorespaces. See also Simulate the % in a \newcommand – Leo Liu Jul 30 '11 at 5:44
up vote 4 down vote accepted
  A test \footnote{a test foot}sentence.

Sample foot

I did not see the space you talked about in the question. Did you left a space or newline between the } and the letters following it?

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My bad, I was introducing a space in the wrapper for my notes. – ℝaphink Jul 30 '11 at 6:20
Alternativ you may finish your \footnote{...} with a % and continue on the thext line. (I edited the answer, please wait for a peer review). – knut Jul 30 '11 at 18:17

Yan Zhou has probably given the irght answer, but I'd add that in similar cases, \ignorespaces or \unskip can be useful. Assume for instance that a macro you are using starts and ends with spurious spaces. Then you may be able to fix it without redefining it:

\newcommand{\badmacro}{ Hello }

x\badmacro x\fixedmacro x
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Good to know, thanks. – ℝaphink Jul 30 '11 at 21:47

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