Is there a particular case when footnote or endnote reference numbers placed in brackets or parentheses? Is this done in block quotations to distinguish reference numbers contained in the original source from final citation reference number? To be clear, this refers to the superscripted note number in the text.

Block example below with native citations:

According to story of the building of Solomon’s temple, the sound of iron tools was not heard.1 No bolts of iron were permitted in the repair of the Publican Bridge across the Tiber as late as the fall of the Roman Republic.2 The first successful cast-iron plow was rejected by New Jersey farmers on the theory that cast iron poisoned the lands and stimulated the growth of weeds.3, [4]


  1. first native source
  2. second native source
  3. third native source
  4. source of entire excerpt containing all the above

This concerns the republication of a text from the 1950s which made extensive use of citations, albeit with numerous errors, which is now part of my task to be addressed. Nothing may be rewritten, no in-line citations. All footnotes.

  • 1
    Have you seen this somewhere, or is this a hypothetical question? If the former, can you show us a picture? If the latter, why do you wonder? Mar 5, 2023 at 11:42
  • 1
    Referencing styles vary in many subtle ways from one journal to another, even when they seem to be using the same style. It might help to say in your question whether you asking about a particular named style (e.g., SAGE Vancouver) or to say whether you are writing for a specific journal or for a thesis. Mar 5, 2023 at 11:42
  • I'm aware of but one example in a publication by The Getty. Style to be followed (as closely as possible, but this may go beyond its reach): Chicago. Why pose such a question? It's an obvious construction issue, relevant for historiography among other things. Though perhaps rare, there'll be instances where the final natively cited source in a block quotation falls at the end of the block quote, and the entire block must then have its own reference number. This leads to two consecutive reference numbers needing to be distinguished. Nothing may be rewritten, no inline citations. All footnotes. Mar 6, 2023 at 0:33

1 Answer 1


I think that your question is hard to follow, so I'll paraphrase it before answering my own paraphrase! Note that I have changed your citation of 1, 2, and 3 because you do not have them parenthesized even though you seemed to be suggesting that they should be!

I am writing for a publication that adopts a citation style that uses inline parenthesized or bracketed numerals, such as ... as stated in the original source [7]. Some of the material that I want to quote at length uses an identical style, and some of that quoted material includes in-line parenthesized or bracketed citations. For historiographic reasons I want to reproduce the original quoted text exactly as it was written, without altering the appearance of the original in-line parenthesized or bracketed citations. A problem then arises when the quoted material itself ends with something like ... the world is flat [3] and I need to cite the source of those words with my own in-line parenthesized or bracketed citation. The result could potentially read ... the world is flat [3] [7], where I have used bold overall to indicate the text as it would end up appearing, and the bold-italicised [7] to indicate my own citation of the source of the quotation ... the world is flat [3]. What is a sensible way of dealing with this problem?

I hope I have understood your question correctly and that my paraphrase does not deviate too far from something useful.

It's an interesting problem but not that unusual. For example, in this question, the OP wants to use APA style to cite a portion of text that, itself, might potentially include the APA referencing from the original. In fact, it arises whenever the quoted text includes in-line citations that you want to keep and the citation style of the original is identical with the in-line citation style you are using for your own writing. Imagine doing what you're describing with a clash of superscripted citation styles!

I'm assume that you can't, or don't want to, put the quoted material inside quotation marks. If you can, then that provides an obvious way of demarcating the original from your own in-line citation.

A digression ... I have yet to come across a copy-editor (and hope I never do) who is so insistent on in-house style that they are unwilling to make concessions in the face of absurdities that would confuse a reader.

With that in mind, I'd look for some minimalist way of locally but consistently altering your own in-line citations to distinguish them from the citations in the original source. For example, you could adopt a double bracketed style such as ... the world is flat [3] [[7]], a supercripted bracketed style such as ... the world is flat [3] [7], or some other simple variation. I prefer the visual effect of the superscripted bracketed source reference but whatever you do, I would choose something that emphasizes clarity and readability above absolute consistency.

  • This is great and I'll respond in more detail very shortly, but first off must make it clear that in-line citations are not allowed. It must be footnotes, which are in fact going to be given as margin notes (sidenotes) in the book, and all must be indicated by a superscripted reference number. I'm surprised and pleased to learn through your example that superscript formatting is possible to show on this board. Thank you - following up again shortly... Mar 6, 2023 at 6:54
  • My apologies for a lack of needed detail in the original post. (I was attempting to be brief as I've been assailed elsewhere with "TL;DR.") This is a new edition of a work by a famous architect originally published by OUP in the 1950s. His citation method was inconsistent and OUP editors failed to read the original sources and help/direct the manuscript. We (an independent press) will be using superscripted reference numbers for the notes which will be in the margins. Ultimately, you are 100% on target – a minimalist way to make the proper distinctions is sought. Chicago-esque. Mar 6, 2023 at 7:34
  • "I've been assailed elsewhere with TL;DR." It looks like your other question was 819 words and the original version of this one was 49 words. When people said your other question was too long, they did not mean that you should cut it by that much. But good luck finding a solution.
    – Oliver882
    Mar 6, 2023 at 8:30
  • 189 words currently. Other query dealt more broadly with several related issues, including creating a distinction between discursive notes and citations. Scope is reduced here. Mar 6, 2023 at 9:32

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