Where do I place a note number in relation to punctuation?

To determine where to place a note number in relation to punctuation, follow the guidance in section 7.4 of the MLA Handbook. Whenever possible, a note number should be placed at the end of a sentence.

Young wizards at Hogwarts learn how to throw flames by incanting “incendio.”2

If clarity requires that a note be placed somewhere other than at the end of a sentence, the note should generally be placed after a punctuation mark.

Despite Fredric Jameson’s influential imperative to historicize,5 Chakrabarty has criticized the “continuous, homogenous” characteristics of this understanding of history (111).

An exception is the dash, which follows a note number.

Positioned in the margins of each scene, the servant4—immobilized, silent, cast in shadow—uncannily substantiates Rodriguez’s claim.

In general, a note number should follow a closing parenthesis.

Woolf’s first novel, The Voyage Out, was published in 1915. (The original title of the novel was Melymbrosia.)8

Occasionally, however, placing a note number inside a closing parenthesis may help clarify the referent. In the following sentence, for instance, the author intends to elaborate on the meaning of the German word Binnenerzählung in a note.

According to Gail Finney, the frame narrative (as distinct from the embedded narrative, or Binnenerzählung3) prevents “penetration of, and subjective identification with, the protagonist” (322).  

Work Cited

MLA Handbook. 9th ed., Modern Language Association of America, 2021. MLA Handbook Plus, 2021, mlahandbookplus.org/.