Clifford's Advice on Notes

Preparing notes need not be the frightening task it often appears to be. Just keep in mind the purpose of notes: they aid your reader to understand and assess what you have written. Because they contain both information and documentation, notes are an integral part of a good research paper, meant to be read with it.

Most professors will give you a choice between footnotes and endnotes. Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page, and thus are easier to read along with the text.  Use the form your professor requests or choose the form you prefer.

There are two general types of notes. The reference note tells the reader the source of the information, and gives credit to the author of a quotation, an idea, or a body of research. Reference notes help the reader make a critical assessment of the history you have written, since they indicate the kind of documentation (whether primary or secondary), date, and author. In a very important sense, reference notes are your way of "proving" your historical case, by reference to publicly verifiable evidence.

The explanatory note carries additional information which is not essential to your text but might be useful or interesting to the reader. For example, explanatory notes may contain translations (or the original) of foreign phrases, provide additional data on a subject mentioned in the body of the paper, or discuss conflicting evidence on a particular point. In practice most explanatory notes also contain references, citing the source of the information in the note.

Every historian must learn the mechanics of notes, because no scholarly work is complete without them. Like the rules of grammar, the rules governing notes provide us with a common basis for communication; and as with grammar, once you have mastered it, you no longer need to think about it -- it's purely mechanical.

When to Note

You must use a note to acknowledge the source for direct quotations, paraphrases, and use of someone else's ideas or research. Failure to do so constitutes plagiarism. If that advice seems to translate into one note per sentence, do not despair: while the sentence containing a direct quotation must be followed by a note, you may group other references into a single note placed at the end of a related body of material (almost never more than a paragraph). See the example on the style sheet that follows this section.

Numbering Notes

The note number appears in your text at the end of the sentence which contains the material cited, even if the quotation is in the middle of the sentence. The number comes after the period, and should be slightly raised, like this.1 

Number notes consecutively through a paper (or a chapter, if you are writing a longer work). Do not use the same number twice, even if the reference is the same. Historians write for the general public as well as the specialist, and therefore the note form must make it easy for the reader, not for the writer.

The Content of Notes

A reference note must supply the information necessary to enable the reader to identify and locate the source. Your reader must be able to tell whether the source is a manuscript, a book, an article, a newspaper, a videotape, a Web page, or an oral interview. Your reader must know when and where the source was written or published, and in the case of a manuscript where the collection is located (usually the archive or library and city). A note must also include the page reference,  electronic address, or document number of your source.

If you approach note content logically, including all of the necessary information in a consistent form, the process will become truly mechanical.

In most cases, note punctuation does not make grammatical sense. It is, however, an arbitrary system that is generally accepted and must be followed.

The style sheet which follows illustrates a generally acceptable form for notes (based on the Chicago Manual of Style, 14th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1993, the department's official format; Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 6th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press,  1996 is the shorter version). The commentary following most examples provides information that will help you construct your own notes.

Style Sheet, with Explanatory Comments

Provide the full information about a source only once, the first time you note that source.

This style sheet shows book and journal titles italicized; you may underline as a standard alternative. The titles of journal articles always appear in quotation marks.

The small-text comments after each example provide further explanation of note mechanics.

1 Books

1.1 Basic:

1 George Rudé, The Crowd in the French Revolution (London: Oxford University Press, 1959), 67.

Do not reverse the author's first and last names in notes. Use reverse form only for bibliographies where you will alphabetize works by the author's last name. Generally, undergraduate research papers require only notes.

It is now accepted practice to omit the publisher's name, in which case the material in parentheses would be (London, 1959). The date is the copyright date, not the date of the printing.

3 Rudé, Crowd, 74-75.

Choose a short title that makes it easy for the reader to find the book in either your bibliography or the first reference. 

1.2 Multiple Authors/Group or Organization as Author/Unknown Author:

1 Fred E. Inbau, James R. Thompson, and Claude R. Sowle, Cases and Comments on Criminal Justice (Mineola, N.Y.: The Foundation Press, 1968), 424.

List authors in the order presented in the book. If the author is an organization, whether the Red Cross or the U.S. Congress, use the group's name as you would a person's. If the author is anonymous, begin the note with the title.

You must include N.Y. after Mineola because the city is not well-known. For major cities no state or country is necessary. We assume Paris refers to the city  in France unless you add information after the name of the city (for example, Paris, Tex.).

3 Inbau et al, Cases and Comments, 4.

Et al is Latin for "and the others," and saves having to repeat a long list of authors. Use only for four or more authors; for two or three authors, use the format Adams, Adams, and Jefferson.

1.3 Multi-Volume work:

1 William Conrad Gibbons, The U.S. Government and the Vietnam War, 2 vols. (Princeton University Press, 1986), 2:73.

Even if the publishers use Roman numerals for the volumes, you may (and probably should) use Arabic numerals.  For example, with scholarly journal volume 87 is much easier to comprehend than volume LXXXVII.

It is not absolutely necessary to give the total number of volumes of a work, but that  information can help your reader. If you do not include the number of volumes, the relevant portion of the note would be ...Vietnam War, vol. 2 (Princeton University Press, 1986), 73.

3 Gibbons, U.S. Government and Vietnam, 2:245.

1.4 Translation:

1 Umberto Eco, Foucault's Pendulum, trans. William Weaver (San Diego: Harcourt, 1989), 325.

You must include the translator's name, because otherwise your reader would assume that Eco wrote in English. Some books have been translated more than once, and translations vary in reliability. For all of those reasons, your reader must know the translator's name. However, the name of the translator does not appear in subsequent citations; for those, use the basic format described in 1.1. The only exception to this rule is the obvious one: if you are citing more than one translation, you will need to distinguish between them. In that case, you will probably want to use some form of abbreviation as indicated in example 7.1.

1.5 Edited book:

1 Margaret Higonnet, ed., Lines of Fire: Women Writers of World War I (New York: Penguin Putnam, 1999), xxii.

Margaret Higonnet would appear in this form as author only when you cite either her contribution to the book or the entire book. Otherwise you list as author the person who wrote the article or chapter you are using, as illustrated in the next example.

The lower case Roman numeral used for the page number represents a frequent practice of numbering pages in the editor's or author's introduction in Latin. You may not change these numbers to Arabic, because to do so would be to give the book two different page 6s.

3 Higonnet, Lines of Fire, xxv.

1.6 Article or Chapter in an edited book or anthology:

1 Peter Paret, "Clausewitz and the Nineteenth Century," in Michael Howard, ed., The Theory and Practice of War (Bloomington: Indiana University Press, 1965), 29.

Quotation marks indicate that the work in question is not a separately bound item, but is part of a larger work.

If you have not cited the Peter Paret chapter, but have cited other chapters from the same book and so have already given the full information on Howard's book, then use the short form after giving the complete author and article/chapter title.

3 Paret, "Clausewitz," 33, 42.

Use a comma to separate non-consecutive page citations. Use a hyphen to indicate inclusive pages, as in 33-42.

1.7 Quotation in one book from another book:

1 Lytton Strachey, Literary Essays, 220-25, as quoted in Paul Fussell, The Great War and Modern Memory (London: Oxford University Press, 1975), 3.

At a minimum, the note must indicate Lytton Strachey, as quoted in.... The reasons are serious ones. First, you may not lie to your reader by copying Fussell's note and implying that you read the original rather than Fussell's extract. Second, it is just possible that Fussell misquoted or quoted out of context. If he did, you have at least told your reader that responsibility for the misquote goes to Fussell rather than you.

3 Siegfried Sassoon, Memoirs of an Infantry Officer 71, as quoted in Fussell, Great War, 29.

1.8 Encyclopedias and other reference works:

1 A.J.P. Taylor, "Bismarck, Count Otto von," Encyclopaedia Britannica (3rd ed., 1957).

Some reference articles are unsigned; if so, begin with the title just as you would with any unknown author.

Notice the spelling of Encyclopaedia. This work uses the Latin form. Always check to make sure that you have reproduced your source exactly.

When the item is arranged alphabetically in the work as it is in encyclopedias, volume and page number are unnecessary.

The edition number is necessary for books as well as reference works, as the text changes from one edition to another. When you do not include an edition number for a book or reference work, we assume that you are citing the first edition.

3 Taylor, "Bismarck," Encyclopaedia Britannica.

In theory you do not have to include Encyclopaedia Britannica in the short form. However, Taylor has written much on Bismarck. If you are citing this particular piece it is likely that the paper will also include references to others of Taylor's more substantial works on Bismarck. It is better to include too much than too little information.

2 Periodicals

2.1 Newspapers:

1 [Jacksonville] Florida Times-Union, January 12, 1996.

Material in brackets [ ], as you may have guessed by now, indicates the author's intrusion -- whether into a footnote formula or into a direct quotation. In this case, the reader needs the city name to locate the newspaper. In other cases it is the name of the state, or even both state and city, that must be inserted. For example, The Times [London] is the correct citation. 

There is no short form for newspapers except through abbreviation, as explained in 7.1.

2.2 General-circulation magazines:

1 Evan Thomas and Stuart Taylor Jr., "Judging Roberts," Newsweek, August 1, 2005, 24.

For major magazines like this one, no publisher is needed. For smaller and less known magazines, such as literary or special-interest publications, you should add the information necessary for your reader to locate the source.

3 Thomas and Taylor, "Judging Roberts," 27.

2.3 Scholarly Journals:

1 Margaret H. Darrow, "French Volunteer Nursing and the Myth of War Experience," American Historical Review, 101 (1996): 85.

Some periodicals appear not in volumes but in issue numbers.  In that case the format would be no.2 (1989): 26.

3 Darrow, "French Volunteer Nursing," 92.

3 Manuscript (Unpublished) Sources

3.1 Document in a collection of papers:

1 General Ambrose E. Burnside to Elihu Benjamin Washburne, October 11, 1870, vol. 71, Washburne Papers, Library of Congress, Washington, D.C.

The basic format for unpublished material is to include the following, in this order: (1) Title or description of document and date, (2) box or carton or folio number or other identifying specific, (3) name of collection, (4) depository or library, and city where it is located. Some manuscript collections are arranged in volumes, others in numbered cartons, and others are uncatalogued. Use whatever identifying specifics you have to help your reader locate the item.

The abbreviation ms. is often used for manuscript.

3 Burnside to Washburne, October 11, 1870, Washburne Papers.

3.2 Unpublished manuscripts:

1 Edwin Child, "Memoirs," King's College, London, 43.

This particular manuscript has page numbers and is bound together. However, the title appears in quotation marks rather than being italicized because it is unpublished.  

3 Child, "Memoirs," 56.

3.3 Thesis or dissertation:

1 Francis X. Gannon, "A Study of Elihu Benjamin Washburne," (Ph.D. diss., Georgetown University, 1950), 6.

3 Gannon, "Study of Washburne," 49.

4 Other Items

4.1 Oral Interviews:

Interview you conducted yourself:
1 Interview with John Delaney, August 22, 2005.
3 Delaney interview.

If you interviewed more than one Delaney, use the first name again. If you interviewed your subject on more than one day, you must include the date.

Interview conducted by someone else:
1 Transcript of John Wallace interview with Angela Davis, November 11, 1974, Columbia Oral History Project, Columbia University Library, New York.

Because this interview material is deposited in a library collection, the form of the note is the same as for a manuscript or document collection.

3 Davis interview.

4.2 Review of a book:

1 Robert Boyce, review of Talbot C. Imlay, Facing the Second World War: Strategy, Politics, and Economics in Britain and France 1938-1940 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2003), in American Historical Review 110 (2005): 210-211.

3 Boyce, review of Imlay, 1277.

4.3 Government documents:

1 U.S., Department of Commerce, Bureau of the Census, 1970 Characteristics of the Population, Pennsylvania (Washington, D.C.: Government Printing Office, 1973) 1:40.

Here the government itself is the author, and the agencies are listed in hierarchical order from the top: first the entire government, then the cabinet department, then the subdivision within that department. Some census material, as well as other government documents, is now available on-line. See citation format for electronic documents.

3 1970 Characteristics, Pa. 1:28.

5 Multiple Reference and Explanatory Notes

The lines of distinction between these two types of notes tend to blur. Multiple reference notes often have some explanatory material although their primary purpose is to refer to more than one work. Explanatory notes often contain one or more references although their purpose is to explain or to elaborate on a point made in the text of the work. The examples below should illustrate.

1 Morgan described the battle's start twice.  "Majors McDowell and Cunningham gave them a heavy and galling fire"; "They formed into one Line Raisd a prodijious Yell, and came Running at us as if they Intended to eat us up."  Daniel Morgan to Nathanael Greene, 19 Jan. 1781, Richard K. Showman et al., eds., The Papers of General Nathanael Greene 10 vols. to date (Chapel Hill: University of North Carolina Press, 1980-1998) 7: 152-55; Daniel Morgan to William Snickers, 23 Jan. 1781, Horatio Gates Papers, New York Historical Society, New York.  The first quote is Morgan to Greene, the second, Morgan to Snickers.

Use semicolons to separate the works in a list of citations.

No short form is presented because this sort of note is too specialized to be repeated exactly. However, once you have introduced any work in full form, you may then use the short form for that work.

1 W.H. Walsh, Philosophy of History (New York: Harper, 1960), 15, argues that critical philosophy should be exempted from the criticism launched at speculative philosophy. Paul K. Conkin and Roland N. Stromberg, The Heritage and Challenge of History (New York: Dodd, Mead, 1973) 123-25, present perhaps the best of the textbook treatments of speculative philosophy, but only reluctantly conclude that we cannot avoid theory.

1 Jacques Godechot, "Les Masses de granit: Napoléon et l'héritage institutionnel de la révolution," Revue de Défense nationale, Mai 1969: 782. The translation is mine. The original reads: "C'est la Révolution, plus que Napoléon, qui a créé la France moderne."

6 Electronic Documents

The basic format for documents that you access electronically is the same as it is for printed works, except that you add information about the physical medium or additional electronic location information, and, for items that change irregularly or are ephemeral, the date you consulted the source. As a general rule of thumb, use the same logic to create a citation for an electronic document as you use for any citation: Author, Title of Work [or "Part of Work," Title of Work] [Medium] (Edition, Place of publication: Publisher, date, accessed date), File or identifying number or address.

As you might expect given the rapid change in this field, citation forms are still developing. 

6.1 Sound Recordings:

1 Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, Symphony no. 38 in D Major, Vienna Philharmonic, James Levine, Polydor compact disk 423 086-2.

Sound recordings, whether of music or reading voice, are generally listed under the name of the composer or author -- in other words, the person responsible for the content. The name of the performer follows the author and title. The only exception is that if you are writing a comparison of performance styles, you may begin with the name of the performer rather than the composer or author. As long as you include the recording company and the identifying number, you need not include the date of the recording, though it might be useful for the reader if you added the date after the recording identification.

The short form for sound recordings follows the same format as for books, except that there is no page number. See example 1.1.

6.2 Film and Video Recordings:

1 Vera Drake: Wife, Mother, Criminal, dir. Mike Leigh, prod. Simon Channing-Williams et al (United Kingdom: New Line Cinema, 2004), color; 125 minutes, DVD.

Notice that the name of the producer and director (in this case, only one person, but often two different people) appears after the title of the work. Put them first if relevant -- for example, if you are writing about the work of a particular director.  In this case, the length of the work and the format must also be included.   Different formats may also have different contents.

6.3 CD-ROM or Commercial Suppliers via Internet:

1 Oxford English Dictionary, 2d ed. [CD-ROM] (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992).

2 Ralph Thomas Daniel, "The History of Western Music," Britannica Online: Macropaedia [Online] (Encyclopaedia Britannica, 1995). URL (accessed 14 June 1995).

Notice that the first example cites a CD-ROM, the electronic equivalent of a book in the sense that once it is "published," it will not change unless there is a new edition. For that reason, you do not have to cite the date on which you consulted the source. You do need a citation date for online documents.  You may use either the European/military date format you see above, or the American one -- but be consistent throughout your paper.  Some note forms for web documents do not place the access date in parentheses.  The form is still very fluid; you may choose, but be consistent.

Also notice that the first example shows you how to cite a complete work; the second illustrates the fact that even in electronic documents, you may cite only parts of a work; the form is the same as for printed materials (see example 1.6). 

6.4 Electronic Databases:

1 Pamela Horn, "The Victorian Governess," History of Education 18 (1989) 336 (ERIC, EJ 401 533).

Because this piece of the database is in periodical format, the beginning of the citation takes that form, and the database citation follows. For other databases, such as the CD-ROM census reports, you'll use the format you would normally use for government documents, then add the database information.

2 US Bureau of the Census, "Florida Quick Facts: Duval County," 2000 Census (Online; accessed 2 August 2005)

This example is interesting because it comes from an interactive online source. The researcher acquired the table through the online search feature of the US Census site, and therefore must cite the time it was accessed.

6.5 Web Documents:

1 Daniel L. Schafer, ed., Florida History Online (accessed 2 August 2005).

In this case the web page indicates the name of the editor, so you should use it.  Many sites indicate the name of the person who maintains the page and include a "last updated" statement; both should be included if they are available. That information, together with the date you visited the site, can be very useful. By the time you read this style sheet, the page cited above may no longer look the way it did when cited.

2 "The Journal of John Bartram, December 19, 1765," Florida History Online, ed. Daniel Schafer, (accessed 2 August 2005).

7 Miscellaneous Advice

7.1 Abbreviating long items [hereafter cited as]:

If you refer frequently to a source whose note information is long, you may adopt an abbreviation as long as you spell out all the information in the first reference, and then give the abbreviation in brackets.

1 The War of the Rebellion: A Compilation of the Official Records of the Union and Confederate Armies (4 series, 70 vols. in 128 vols., Washington: Government Printing Office, 1880-1901), Series One, 11.3: 316 [hereafter cited as O.R., with all citations referring to Series One].

3 O.R. 10.2: 79.

You may also use [hereafter cited as] for parts of the information. For example, if you refer often to papers in the Library of Congress, you may wish to say in the first reference: Library of Congress [hereafter cited as LC].

7.2 Oddball items:

No style sheet can cover all possibilities. When you must come up with note format for an oddball item, either ask your friendly local scholar or use your own logic. Notes begin with the author, then title of work, then location of work (publishing information, date, library, electronic format), then specific reference (page number, document number, electronic address).

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This page is maintained by Dale Lothrop Clifford.  Last updated 3 August 2005.