Why Do You Need to Acknowledge Your Sources? Every paper that you submit should be based upon your own research and analysis. Any factual material or ideas you take from another source must be acknowledged in a reference, unless it is common knowledge (e.g., President Kennedy was killed in 1963). This is normally done through a combination of notes and a bibliography. Your method of referencing must tell your reader where you got all the specific information in your paper, and where any ideas or interpretations came from that are not your own thinking.

Plagiarism consists of presenting another person's words, research, or ideas as if they were your own. This applies not only to direct quotations (each of which must be placed in quotation marks and have its own reference) but also to the use of facts, interpretations, or approaches you have gained from someone else's work. Any information or ideas you have taken from another book, article, or person must therefore be referenced too. Submitting a paper written by another student or one you ordered from a catalog is likewise plagiarism. The University treats plagiarism as a serious academic offense, and your instructor is obliged to impose severe punishments should this problem occur.

References and Notes

Different styles of referencing are used in different disciplines. The one most commonly found in historical writing utilizes notes, placed either at the bottom of the page as footnotes or at the back of the paper as endnotes, coupled with a bibliography at the end that lists all the works used for the project.

Historians do not normally use a format that gives references in the text, with the author's name and a reference put into parentheses. Occasionally, however, an instructor may suggest that you use this style, especially if your paper is a discussion of just a few works. In that case you need also to provide in a bibliography the full reference to every work cited. Do not use references in the text unless your instructor has approved this format.


Use of Notes

  1. Simple notes. They provide a reference to the source for the material, interpretation, or direct quotation given in the text.
  2. Collective notes. To avoid the extreme case of having a note at the end of every sentence or two, you can put a collective note at the end either of the first sentence or of the last sentence of a given paragraph, indicating where the material in that paragraph comes from (if it is taken from just a few sources). Even then, however, any direct quotation within the paragraph will need its own reference in addition to the collective note.
  3. Notes to provide supplementary material. Another use of notes is to provide additional information or comment: facts or explanations which you feel would interrupt the flow of your discussion in the text itself. You could, for example, offer evidence to support a statement made in the text, or you could explain why you are not persuaded by another historian's differing argument on this point.

Format for Notes
Type the number of the note at the end of the sentence to which it applies, normally up half a space above the line of text. The notes themselves are usually typed single-spaced, with double spaces between them. Notes may be placed either at the bottom of each page (footnotes) or all together at the end of the paper (endnotes). If the notes are on the same page as the text, they may either be numbered consecutively throughout the paper or start again with number one on each new page. Notes at the end of the paper must be numbered in sequence throughout the paper. The most important features of notes are (1) that they provide the necessary information (2) in a consistent format. The information to be given the first time you refer to a given printed work is: author's full name, title of the work, publication information in parentheses, and the page(s) which you are citing. There are several acceptable formats used by historians. Unless your instructor tells you to do something different, use the following style. It is drawn from the Turabian Manual cited below, based upon The Chicago Manual of Style.


The first reference to a book:
The author's name, with first name(s) before last name; the title of the book underlined or in italics; the town in which the book was published followed by a colon and two spaces, then the publisher followed by a comma and a space, then the date of publication, with all of this publication information enclosed within parentheses; and finally the page place of publication is a U.S. city that is not generally known, give a brief state abbreviation too. Thus, Mary Wisevits, Sherman's March Revised (Glenview, Ill.: Phelps Press, 1985), 64-5.

The first reference to an article in a journal:
The author's name, with first name(s) before last name, followed by a comma; the title of article in quotation marks with a comma before the closing quotation mark; the title of the journal underlined or in italics with no comma after it; the volume number of the journal; the year of publication in parentheses followed by a colon and a space; and the page numbers (with no “p./pp.”). Thus, Joe Specialist, “Historical Facts Can Be Interesting,” Trivia Today 3 (1992): 36-42.

multi-volume set:
In the simplest case, after the parenthesis and the comma, say which volume you used, followed by a colon, and then the page(s). E.g., Statutes of the Realm (London: Her Majesty's Stationery Office, 1879), 4:24-7. For more complex cases, see the Turabian Manual cited below.

component part by one author in a work by another:
Give the author and title of the chapter you used, then “in” followed by the name of the volume. List the editor's name after the title, before the parenthesis. The rest is as for other books. Thus, Alhami M. Hatimy, “Swahili Culture,” in Diversity and Change, ed. Triza Kimani (Nairobi: East African Press, 1987), 137-55.

Translated works:
Give the translator's name after the title, before the parenthesis. E.g., Author, Title, trans. Henry Jones (New York, etc.).

A collective note might be worded as follows:
All information in this paragraph is drawn from Jane Osikawa, Women in the Japanese Textile Industry, 1880-1954 (Berkeley, CA: Univ. of California Press, 1985), 64-78, and Nagato Takeuchi,Early Japanese Linen Production (Tokyo: Masakawi Press, 1962), 209-51.

Modern edition of a primary source or collection of sources:
Your format here must distinguish between the actual words of a primary source and any discussion written by the modern editor in her or his introduction to the work. If, for instance, you refer to a statement by Sitting Bull, your reference will normally be to the source of his own words. But if you are quoting a modern editor's comments about Sitting Bull's statement, your format must make that plain. These two cases might be referenced:

  1. Sitting Bull, Interview about the Ghost Dance, January 7, 1890, in Native American Voices, ed. Margaret Strong Woman (Boston: Atlantic, 1983), 136.
  2. Margaret Strong Woman, introduction to Native American Voices, ed. Margaret Strong Woman (Boston: Atlantic, 1983), iii.

Indirect quotations (when you have cited person A through author B's work):
First give the original author of the quotation, with the source of the quotation, its publication information, and page number; then say "cited by” or "as quoted by” and give the full reference to the book in which you found the quotation. If author B does not provide a reference saying where he or she found the quotation, indicate that absence in your own note.

  1. Thomas More, Utopia, ed. Henry Smith (London: Longmans, 1873), as quoted by Susan Williams, English Reform Literature of the Sixteenth Century (Boston: Little Brown, 1991), 523.
  2. Henry VIII, letter to Charles V, date and reference not provided, as cited by Lucille Careless,Early European Diplomacy (Paris: Drois, 1897), 76.

Later references to a work already cited:
After the first, full reference to a given work, save time and space by referring to that work in an abbreviated form.

A standard format is to give the author's last name (not the first, unless you have cited works by two different authors with the same last name, when you will have to give at least their first initials as well), a short form of the title, and page number(s). Thus: Wisevits, Sherman's March, 68-70.

The forms “op. cit.” and “loc. cit.” should not be used.

Consecutive references to the same work:
If you are citing a work in one note which you cited in the note immediately before it, there is a further shortcut. Here one uses the Latin abbreviation ibid. (meaning “the same”), plus a new page number if the second reference is different from the page given in the previous note. Because ibid. is an abbreviation, it always needs a period. When ibid. is used in the middle of a sentence, it is not capitalized. Thus:

  1. Stanislaus Serevski, Polish Workers in World War II, trans. Ignatius Gazda (Oxford: Blackwell, 1993), 39.
  2. Ibid. [With no further page number, this means p. 39 again.]
  3. For a detailed discussion of this change, see ibid., 41-2.

References to interviews:
If you are using interviews as a source for a paper, ask your instructor for a copy of the separate handout on Interviewing Guidelines.

Citing Internet Sources:
For online sources include the following: author, title of the page, title of the site, URL, and access date:

Jon Gertner, “Why Isn't the Brain Green?”, New York Times,
http://www.nytimes.com/2009/04/19/magazine/19Science-t.html?ref=magazine [accessed April 21, 2009]

If there is no named author, give the name of the site's owner:

Wikipedia, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Barack_Obama, [accessed April 21, 2009]


A bibliography should list all the books, articles, and interviews which you found helpful while doing research for your paper, even if you did not end up citing them individually in notes. It should not include works which you looked at but did not contain any useful information on your subject.


  1. The bibliography is placed at the very end of the paper.
  2. A bibliography is generally typed single-spaced within each entry but double-spaced between entries.
  3. If you have a long and complicated bibliography, you may want to subdivide it on the basis of primary sources and secondary materials. Books and articles should be entered together, not grouped separately.
  4. Entries within a bibliography are arranged alphabetically by the author's last name and are not numbered.
  5. The author's last name is typed first, followed by his or her given names (the reverse of the format for notes). Use a period after the author's full name (not a comma as in notes).
  6. If you list several works by a given author, arrange them alphabetically by title after the author's name. Use an underscore in place of the author's name for the second and later items to indicate the same author.
  7. Book titles are followed by a period. The publication information to be given is the same as for notes but is not put into parentheses.
  8. Article format is the same as for notes, except that the author's last name comes first, the author's name is followed by a period, and the title of the journal is followed by a period.
  9. Books or articles for which no author was given should be listed under title.
  10. When describing a book, do not give the page numbers of the sections you used. The page numbers of articles in journals or chapters in books should, however, be given.


Hernandez-Moniña, Isabella. “Argentinian Women and the Law.” Legal Studies 22 (1972): 42-89.

Magawe, Masakinde. Early Empires in Southern Africa. London: Routledge, 1976.

__________. Shaka and the Zulu. Capetown: Freedom Press, 1990.
For more information on referencing, see Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers.