This probably also could go to English.SE, but I'm not sure.

When I want to cite a source for a complete sentence, you put the citation before or after the period?

And if you cite for a word, or figure, do you put it before or after the comma?

Please bear in mind my citations are not superscripted, here's an example:

appropriate awards and punishments[4, p.415].


appropriate awards and punishments.[4, p.415]


when, on January 28[3, p.4],


when, on January 28,[3, p.4]

I have a feeling that for facts I should put it right behind the fact and before the comma, while for sentences it should be after the period, but I do not know for sure.

  • 11
    In any case you should put a space (even better a nonbreaking space, that is ~) before the reference!
    – Daniel
    Nov 10, 2011 at 22:01
  • 2
    I concur with @Daniel, unless the citation is superscript. I always put them inside punctuation.
    – qubyte
    Nov 10, 2011 at 22:05
  • Yes, now that I have done that, it shows that it's much nicer to put the citation inside the punctuation. It shows much better what text the citation belongs to. Thanks :D
    – Zsub
    Nov 10, 2011 at 22:08

2 Answers 2


Until now, I have never spotted non-superscript citation marks after a comma or period. In addition, the marks should be separated by a normal interword space or a non-breaking space, i.e.

appropriate awards and punishments [4, p.415].


when, on January 28 [3, p.4],

See page 2 of this PracTeX Journal article for another example.

  • 2
    what should you do when the quotation ends in an exclamation point or question mark? Is it the same thing? Aug 17, 2018 at 5:58
  • Does it mean that superscript citation must mark after a comma or period?
    – Shaun Han
    Jul 22, 2022 at 11:32

While it seems that @lockstep’s answer describes the more common style, there are also style guides that suggest to treat citations like footnote markers: If they refer to the whole sentence, put them after the full stop.

One example is the Vancouver style.

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