When referencing in a paper or a thesis, is there a convention to put a reference immediately after the word or separate them by a space? So for example do you have '... FTIR-spectroscopy[1]' or '... FTIR-spectroscopy [1]'?

I find that the latter is a bit better on the eyes, but I've seen some people use the former and was wondering if there is any of the two is preferred.

  • 2
    Journal papers that I have lying around, that use the square brackets, universally would use a space to separate the reference blob from any text. However, I don't discount that (1) I have papers from only a small slice of all literature, (2) non-English language journals may prefer something else, and (3) some local custom may prevail.
    – Jon Custer
    Commented May 6, 2022 at 14:41

1 Answer 1


Is this for publication? Journals have author guidelines online outlining what formats are acceptable. If it is a thesis at your university, they will also have a guide for thesis submission. You could also ask your advisor.

  • The institution's library is also a good resource for citation techniques. Failing all else, find a highly-regarded publisher in the field, and use their published citation guidelines (APA, IEEE, etc).
    – vk5tu
    Commented May 7, 2022 at 4:59

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