Let's clarify in Help Pages: There is no Space before footnote <ref>s

+10 votes

Per this sources help page, My understanding is that we follow the Chicago Manual of Style, which states in section 16.30 of the 15th edition:

  • A note number should be placed at the end of a sentence or at the end of a clause. The number follows any punctuation mark, except for the dash, which it precedes. It follows a closing parenthesis.

While it does not specify explicitly that there is no space before the footnote, all CMoS examples do not have any space before the footnote.

On Wikipedia, the standard is given here. I suggest we follow suit and specify that there is no space except possibly a hairspace (i.e., &hairsp;).

in Policy and Style by William Foster G2G6 Pilot (111k points)
retagged by William Foster

2 Answers

+3 votes
Best answer
A space before does leave an odd format. A space after the last closing </ref> of a sequence, would make sense but not before.
by Doug McCallum G2G6 Pilot (462k points)
selected by William Foster
+6 votes
Whilst there is no space before the ref tag on those examples, On Wikitree the page looks nicer if there is a single space. It functions correctly with or without a space, so we do not need to waste time trying to control it. In fact I'd go as far as to say that we should be accommodating people who choose to use forms of spacing in their edit page as it is an accessibility issue.
by Gillian Causier G2G6 Pilot (263k points)
Please say more about how a space improves accessibility.

I'm with the original poster on this one; I prefer no space before the <ref> tag. How I was taught.  The resulting footnote is hanging out there detached from what it's referencing. Drives me crazy every time I see it. But if there is a good reason for it-- like accessibility-- I'd be willing to try to alter my default reaction to it.
I've accidentally left a space before the <ref> tag with bad results. It does separate the footnote number from the item sourced and often winds up on the next line. I see no reason at all to recommend adding such a space. Out of curiosity, how does the space affect accessibility?
Can you cite an accessibility guideline that covers this case? I'm not finding one and the accessibility testing tools aren't flagging it as a possible issue. A number of other issues on profiles, but not one about spacing. The superscripting and being a link identify it pretty clearly. If I missed something, I would like to know about it.  Thank you.

I do think that adding a space would cause more of an accessibility problem by doing as Shirley mentioned. Separating the citation from what it is related to.
Interesting, not a specific point that I recall pondering before. However, upon reflection I see that I have used a preceding space on many, if not most, of my refs.  For me, it is a matter of readability; my eyes are getting old and I found out last month that I've been getting cataracts in both eyes.  Probably why lines of text tend to run together so that space separation is often helpful (that's why I like double spaces between sentences).  I just checked back on some of my profiles and actually found one where the ref bounced to the beginning of the next line of text.  Didn't seem to be any less understandable to me but I can see how some could find it difficult.  So I will keep this in mind in future profile construction and as time permits, even on those already in place.  Hopefully it will be easier after I get the lenses in my eyes cut out and replaced during the next few months.  Just thought that this might address the accessibility topic.
Yes, it is a readability issue.  A big one that wastes my time and effort.  When WikiTree stops changing my double space after a period (.) to a single space, then I will stop adding the extra space before the ref tag.  How many times have I re-read what I wrote and questioned if maybe that punctuation should have been a comma, because there is only one space?

I copied/pasted text from a profile to here: (https://www.grammarly.com/grammar-check), first without a space before the ref tag, then again with a space before it.  Both ways the punctuation was OK.
I agree with a space between references for readability, as well as use on a mobile device. When reviewing a profile on a mobile device, selecting the footnote for it to jump to the Sources section, it is harder when the references are close together.

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