The word footnote seems to only refer to the actual text that you are brought to if you follow the little number or symbol (such as '*') to the bottom of the page.

Does the actual superscript character have a name?

  • In mathematics aren't they called "index numbers"?
    – WS2
    Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 22:40
  • It is a "reference". In computer technology it is a "link". Commented Mar 29, 2018 at 22:42
  • Have to tried to find the answer looking around on the web?
    – Kris
    Commented Mar 30, 2018 at 6:06
  • @WeatherVane The use of the number/symbol is a reference, not the number/symbol itself. Just like "WeatherVane" is not a reference (it's your name/handle), but your name can be used in reference to you or to reference you. See the definition of "reference". The accepted answer makes this distinction correctly, using "reference" as a modifier, not the name of the thing itself. See also what "reference" is used for in this description: printwiki.org/Footnote
    – Inigo
    Commented Mar 30, 2022 at 8:15

1 Answer 1


Well, reference mark is in the dictionary to refer to the symbols:

any of various written or printed symbols, as an asterisk (*), dagger (†), or superscript number, used to indicate the presence of further information in a footnote, bibliography, or other text.
Dictionary.com Unabridged
Based on the Random House Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2018.

Another similar phrase that is used is reference symbol.

The corresponding phrase for a number would be a reference number:

A footnote consists of two linked parts: the footnote reference number that appears in text, and the footnote text that appears at the bottom of the column.
Create footnotes in InDesign - Adobe Support

And then there's footnote number and footnote symbol.


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