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Academic writing includes citations to the sources of information that are used in it. There are a number of conventions for how this is done, most of which include roughly the same information, although different publishers, editors, and disciplines do vary. Most academic book editors are less concerned about which convention you follow than they are about your being consistent with yourself and friendly to the reader (and of course including the necessary information to allow a reader to locate the references you used). Journal editors seek uniformity across all articles in the same journal.
This page is designed to make the task extremely easy. It is long only because I have included lots of different kinds of sources that students frequently wonder about and because I have attached wordy explanations in the interest of clarity.
The following specimen citations (all of real sources) generally follow a format widely used in the social sciences, and especially in anthropology. The particular examples here are all related to Chinese Studies because I originally developed this for my China classes, but the format considerations are generic.
In this citation style, citation tags are given "in-text," and the references themselves are listed in the bibliography. Footnotes are unnecessary (and page formatting is easier) this way. Footnotes may be used for peripheral discussions, or occasionally when so many citations are given together that they disrupt the flow of the text excessively. I have provided one example here.
Because the information in each bibliographic entry is in a fixed order, it is not strictly necessary to include italics or quotation marks, and capitalization can be kept to a minimum. However, many editors (and all writing instructors) think italics and quotation marks are very beautiful. Therefore, on this page each bibliographic entry is given twice, once (in black) in the "spare" form that omits the italics, quotation marks, and much capitalization, and then again (in blue) in the "beautiful" form that has all of these. Whichever form you adopt, you should be consistent with yourself or people will yell at you.
A personal habit of my own: Because of the instability in conventions governing name order, I find it convenient to follow the European custom and put surnames entirely in upper-case in a lot of contexts. It took me years to learn whether my University of Pittsburgh colleague who sometimes wrote his name Ch'iao Chien and sometimes Chien Ch'iao was Professor Ch'iao or Professor Chien. Such a problem doesn't arise when the name is spelled CH'IAO Chien. The problem is not limited to Chinese names. Both Simon and László are Hungarian male names. Like Chinese, Hungarians usually place the surname before the given name, although, also like Chinese, Hungarians often reverse the ordering when writing in English. Is Simon László Mr. Simon or Mr. László? In the specific context of a bibliography, using upper-case for the surnames also helps make the alphabetical ordering obvious.
This web page contains (1) an example of running text containing citation tags (Part II), (2) an example of a footnote, which is not used for that purpose (Part III), and (3) a list of sources of lots of different kinds (multiple-author book, article, translation, encyclopedia article, web site, &c.) by way of example (Part IV). Each part has extensive notes about what is going on. In general the examples are black or blue and my commentary is brown. A full listing of the types covered is in the table of contents of the page.
Finally, I have also provided a one-page text-file version (Part V) that you can print out for carry-along reference if you like.
In many older works, especially in the humanities, it was usual to place citations in footnotes, located at the bottom of each page. The full information was given the first time a work was cited. Thereafter an abbreviated form was used, requiring that the reader page back through the book or article to find the full information if needed. The abbreviation "ibid." (for Latin ibidem, "in the same place") was used to mean "the place most recently cited" and "op. cit." (for Latin opere citato, "in the place cited") was used to mean "the work I told you about earlier … somewhere." In the case of op. cit., the work cited could have been cited several hundred pages earlier, and the reader was expected to look back in quest of the information. Since sources were listed in footnotes, such works had no bibliographies.
In the interest of saving production costs, some publishers began to place footnotes (containing the citation information) at the end of the article or book. (Some publishers have told me that doing so is intended to help sales by making all books look like novels.) In the most overtly reader-hostile cases, a reader can encounter a footnote number (such as 37), turn to the back of the book, and notice that the footnotes had been separately numbered in each chapter. However, while the chapters themselves conventionally have page-top running titles, the chapter numbers are often to be found only on the first page or in the table of contents. The reader who encounters a reference to footnote 37, then must turn to the table of contents to learn that he is reading chapter 6, then must locate the footnote in the back of the book under the correct chapter's 37, only to have it say something like "op.cit., page 50." Such a reader can easily appreciate why there is a special court in hell for publishers.
In rebellion against such assininity, scientists and social scientists experimented with other alternatives, most of which are variants of "in-text citation." This involves a brief "citation tag" placed directly in the text (no footnotes), with the full information given in the bibliography. The citation tag is normally the name of an author followed by the year of publication and the page number (such as: Vannicelli 1943: 13). It is normally simply inserted in parentheses. In the bibliography, multiple works by the same author are then listed in historical order.
Although the citation tag is usually an author's name, it can in principle be something different if no author is obvious, such as an abbreviated title (YGDY 14) or an expression like "website 3." What matters is that it unambiguously refer to a specific bibliographic entry which can be quickly and efficiently located. (Occasionally an especially reader-friendly work will include the full citation information both at the bottom of the page and in a bibliograpy, but few publishers tolerate that level of redundancy.)
In a perversion of the goal of keeping clutter to a minimum, biology and medical journals took to severe abbreviation of journal names and omitting article titles in the biblography entries, thus leaving it to the reader to find the journal and look up an article to learn what it was about. In some cases, this unfortunate practice still continues. (A new court in hell has been established for advocates of that style.)
Vannicelli (1943: 176) found much greater freedom of movement among Yao and Lolo women than among the adjacent Chinese populations, but according to Ebrey (1993b: 266-267) women themselves enforced foot-binding with no particular concern about mobility. Indeed, bindings seem to have gotten tighter with the passage of time (p. 42). Some women with bound feet used to joke about the process of "making them into human trees" (Huang Xiumei, personal communication). In contrast to this, J.J.M. de Groot (1892-1910 4: 273-274) provides an example of a legend in which people become trees, but it is unrelated to foot-binding.
I colored the citations here to make them obvious. Here are links so you can see what these three references look like in the bibliography itself: Vanicelli, Ebrey, Groot. (Since "personal communication" is not available to anybody but the writer, no bibliographic entry is generated for Huang Xiumei.)
The year tag for Vannicelli is conventional even though there may be only one work by him in the bibiliography. If there are several works, then the year tag (with its attached letter if there are several by the same author in the same year) is clearly necessary (as for Ebrey). When a specific passage is being referenced, the page numbers must be included to avoid implying that the whole work is being cited. The last citation can be simply "p. 42" because it is assumed that the work just cited is being referred to again. (The obsolescent abbreviation ibid. —from Latin ibidem, "in the same place"— can be placed before or substituted for the "p." if you prefer.)
Notice how the citation to the multi-volume work by de Groot is handled and compare it with the bibliography listing for that work shown below.
The "personal communication" means an unpublished direct contact with an informant who is not listed in the bibliography of sources. This way of citing an informant is a bit clumsy and is usually not used for anthropological informants but it is handy for honestly citing the source of an occasional tidbit picked up in a conversation or private letter, especially from a professional expert.
*-For examples, see Smith 1998: 35-44, H.W. Wang 1935: 14, N.F. Wang 1973: 255-270, Lundt 1980: 337-338, McDonahue 1855: 138-140, and Jeffries 1999.
In this style footnotes are not routinely used to hold bibliographic information, but only for additional arguments or commentary or other peripheral text material. The whole process of citation is managed by the in-text citation tags and the bibliography. Only if a very large number of citations come together —more than three is a good rule— will most writers move them to a footnote to avoid disrupting the flow of the text. Such a footnote might read something like the following:
Notice that the bibliography lists all works alphabetically by the citation tag —usually the author's name— and, within the same tag, by date. To facilitate this, dates need to be placed prominently, typically immediately after the name of the author(s) and preferably beginning a new line.
As explained above, the black entries here are the "spare" style that I prefer, with no italics, quotation marks, or unnecessary capitalization. The blue entries are the slightly more common "beautiful" style that includes these decorations. Take your pick, but be consistent. If you are writing a paper for a more rigid person than I am, you are likely to be required to use the "beautiful" style because it is more widespread.
It is conventional to include in the bibliography only items cited in the text. If you include materials you don't actually cite in your paper, you will be suspected of "bibliography padding," which is considered sloppy by most editors, shifty by most professors, and extremely sinful by most writing instructors.
This is the most basic form of a book citation. Notice the order of the elements and the punctuation that is used to separate them.
Hong Kong is well known, but a state, province, or country should be included if the location is likely to be unclear: "St. Petersburg, FL" as against "St. Petersburg, Russia" or "St. Petersburg, AK," for example.
Hong Kong is not the main office of Oxford University Press, which has offices around the world, but it is the office that issued this book, so it is the city placed in the bibliography. (Some books have different publishers in different countries.) However if a publisher lists a whole series of locations, it would be nomal to cite only the main office or largest city if the book doesn't actually seem to be a local edition.
Notice that the name of the journal is fully capitalized, even in the spare, black style where other titles are not. The volume number and the run of page numbers is normally sufficient, but a few periodicals (usually popular magazines rather than scientific journals) renumber the pages with each issue. In that case it is necessary to indicate the "number" in parentheses after the "volume." When you are not sure, including the number doesn't hurt anything: Journal of the China Society 5(2): 77-91.
For style sheets that require capitalization of book titles, journal articles are usually put in quotation marks and journal titles are italicized. The black style sheet illustrated here does not make use of these redundant decorations. The blue one includes them.
This author publishes in three languages, and so his name is not always spelled the same way. Accordingly I added the alternate spelling in parentheses. This is optional, since there is only one spelling attached to this particular item, and since one doesn't always know what other spellings might be used.
Multiple works by the same author are arranged chronologically. Two items by the same author in the same year are alphabetized by title and a lower-case letter attached to the year number to differentiate them for the in-text citation. When feasible, it is desirable to let the dates stick out to the left slightly from the part that follows them so that they are as prominent as possible when a reader is looking for the reference.
When a work is published over a period of years, the whole period is used in the reference. In some cases individual volumes are published in different years and it makes sense to list them separately, but this is not usually the case.
Citing web pages is a known headache, since they may or may not carry dates, don't always have obvious authors, and, worst of all, are subject to change at any moment. Honesty requires that you cite them, but since they may change or vanish, you also seem to need to indicate the version you saw and when. Unlike citation of written material, which the reader can feel confident exists somewhere in the world and can at least potentially be located from your citation, a web page that disappears is probably lost forever, so modeling the citation on how books are treated will probably not be a viable solution to the problem for very long.
The format used here includes the information recommended by the Modern Language Association, which is the big name in the citation business (despite their passion for needless punctuation and their devotion to out-dated and/or reader-hostile conventions). If you want to see their (1996) discussion on web citation, click here. (On the whole you would rather not know.)
The "publication date" is based on the model of a book, but partially duplicates the more detailed revision date given later. Unfortunately, few sites distinguish a "last modified" date from a publication date, and some provide no date at all to use for this. Many pages have no indicated authors. Notice also that the "title" which MLA selects is the information given in the strip at the very top of your browser, not necessarily any heading on the main screen of the page itself. (For this page, for example, it would be "Jordan: Specimen Bibliography Format," even though "Jordan" is not part of the title on the page itself.) A serious problem with this is that people who make web pages by simply saving word processor files or using some software packages that claim "no programming knowledge is needed" sometimes do not have anything in that location. Another problem is that sometimes a whole series of pages may share the same information in that strip (separate chapters of an on-line book, for example). Be prepared to wing it. (Click here for examples using a Wikipedia article.)
When there are two authors, only the first one needs to have the surname first to facilitate alphabetizing. The second author (and any additional ones) come in normal word order. (For East Asian authors that is usually surname-first anyway.) When there are three or fewer authors the full name of each author should be given. When there are four or more it is normal to list only the first and then subsume the remaining authors under the abbreviation et al. (Latin for et alios = "and others").
This book by two authors comes after the listing for the first author alone.
For a foreign language entry for a source in a language written in a Latin alphabet, see Vannicelli. Languages that have non-Latin writing systems present a special challenge for bibiliographies. To facilitate alphabetical order, the author's name, transliterated into Latin letters, should be before the original form and should be used for the in-text citation. At least for East Asian languages, it is normal, although not universal, to include the original script as well (Chinese characters in this example).
The same is normally done with the title. (In theory the Romanization adds no useful information and should be unnecessary in that case, but it is usual. Editors yell at me when I try to leave it out.) The city of publication should be in English (here: Taipei or Taibei, as against the Chinese spelling Táibĕi). The publishing house is usually not translated, and only occasionally is represented in characters. (In producing the Romanized versions of Asian sources, Japanese length marks are more and more often included, as are diacritics for Indian and Near Eastern languages. Chinese tone marks are virtually always omitted, for unknown reasons. I myself include them, but only the very best editors can restrain themselves from deleting them again.)
While I am being fussy about Chinese, I might also make a couple of additional observations:
- Older English style sheets tended to divide all Romanized Chinese syllables from each other with hyphens and to create word divisions arbitrarily. Some scholars prefer that no Chinese compound be represented as longer than two to four syllables. Now that Pinyin spellings have become universal, it is preferable to follow the Chinese government rules for word division in Pinyin spellings. Unfortunately these are complex and are not widely understood, either in China or elsewhere, so you should expect to see great variation, and you can expect to be corrected by very few editors and forgiven by most readers. (The most readily accessible printed summary of the official spelling rules is in John DeFrancis' ABC Chinese English Dictionary (Honolulu: U. of Hawai'i Press, 2000), Appendix I. For an on-line summary, click here. Unfortunately, neither source is especially useful if you have no knowledge at all of Chinese, since applying the rules assumes you understand the elements to which you are applying them.)
- For obscure reasons, the influential University of Chicago Manual of Style provides that, in the exclusive case of Chinese, the Romanized title should be minimally capitalized regardless of the style of the rest of the bibliography. This potentially insulting inconsistency may perhaps be corrected in a future edition. (On the other hand, the omission of diacritical marks exclusively in the case of Chinese is also inconsistent and potentially insulting, and it has never been changed.)
- Chinese editors prefer to convert all Chinese characters to "simplified" or to "traditional" format. (Going from simplified to traditional is a "one to many" conversion, so this is an operation that requires some judgement.) They carry this preference over to characters used in English books as well. English editors, on the other hand, prefer to retain the style of each original source or quotation, so that bibliographies are a mix that use both simplified and traditional characters, depending on the source cited. Since you are writing in English, you should probably follow the English tradition on this unless your word processor can produce only one of the two styles of characters.
Ma & Lau are the editors rather than the authors of the stories, but because the stories are by many authors the work is alphabetized under the names of the editors-translators. The editors do not provide their Chinese names, so I have made no attempt to provide a conversion to Pinyin here. Since the names are given only in English format, I also left in a comma after the surname MA, treating the names as English.
An article in a collection goes under the name of its author, not the name of the editor. The entirely upper-case "IN" before the editor differentiates the items on both sides in a way that cannot be confused as part of either one of them. (Some style sheets use italics instead of full upper-case on the theory that the in in question is actually Latin.) The name of the editor does not need to be surname-first, since it is not being used to alphabetize anything.
Excluding Wikipedia, the Encyclopaedia Britannica is probably the only English-language encyclopaedia you are likely to find worth citing, but it is not alone in indicating the names of its authors of major articles. Unfortunately, Britannica encodes them in the form of initials at the end of each article. In this citation the (excellent) article is attributed to "A.K.Se." To find out that the author is the famous French Taoism scholar Anna Seidel, one must look up the initials in the "contributors" list in the "Propaedia" volume. When no author information is provided, it is best to treat the item as anonymous.
The original work was produced in the XVIIth century and in Chinese, but you are using a translation edited and published in 1966, and then reprinted in 1997. Preferences differ on how best to treat this. Since the 1977 reprinting is an exact photocopy of the 1966 edition, my own preference is to omit the data underlined here as not a relevant part of the source information. If you want to include it, that is where it goes (without the underlining!).
Next comes the issue of how to identify the author. Since your paper presumably uses Pinyin spellings, I added the Pinyin spelling in parentheses after the spelling actually used on the book, but that is optional also (and if you are not sure of the spelling conversions, it is much better to leave it alone than to make a mistake).
With modern editions of very old materials, it is not unusual to use the date of the modern edition as the citation tag, so this work is cited in the text as Sung 1966, even though Song Yingxing had been dead for three centuries in 1966.
The treatment of a popular magazine article is just like that of an article in a scholarly journal. But notice that popular magazines almost always begin each issue on page 1, so it is essential to include the issue number in parentheses after the volume number. The month or day of issue is normally not included, since in a library one would look for it by the volume information. (More and more, however, the volume and issue number are not to be found. In that case, the month or day become necessary data that the reader needs to locate the issue.)
If a dissertation has been published as a book, one normally cites the published version, which may involve updates and rewrites. However, when the original dissertation does get cited, as it is here, one indicates the department and university.
A title in a foreign language should be translated in parentheses. (Some editors maintain that the translation is optional if the work is in a Western European language, since all English readers can be assumed to be familiar with all Western European languages. If you actually believe that, you can leave out the translation in an entry like this one.)
The name of the city of publication should be in English if the English is different from the name in the original language (Milan, not Milano, in this case). The name of the publishing house is left untranslated. For works in Asian languages both the title and publishing house should be transliterated and the title should be translated. See Lin & Hong for an example.
In the second (blue) format, the capitalization of the English translation of the title can follow regular title format on the theory that it is a title (as here), or can be left with minimal capitalization on the theory that it is "just" a translation. (Either way it is not italicized.)
A few editors like to use maximum capitalization on English works but follow other capitalization rules for items in languages (like Spanish) where capitalization is traditionally minimized in bibliographies. Such mixed-style bibliographies are still not common.
See the note above for general comments about citing web pages. Wikipedia, because of its combination of convenience, prominence, transience, and anonymity, presents a special challenge. The citation form suggested here is respectable, although the resource itself is sometimes regarded as suspect. Wikipedia has different contents in its many different language versions. They are usually NOT simply translations of each other. Hence indicating the language is critical, although, when writing in English, one can assume the default Wikipedia version is English. In theory, one might cite a foreign language version under a different spelling —so the Chinese version could be alphabetized under romanized spelling Weijibaike or the Hindi version could be listed as विकिपीडिया, the Russian as Викимедиа and so on— but this seems less desirable than retaining the nearly-universal "English" spelling "Wikipedia," even if the local spelling is added afterward, as I have done here.
If several articles are cited from Wikipedia, it is difficult to say what is the most reader-friendly approach to ordering them, or to providing the most concise but unambiguous in-text quotation. For example, they could be alphabetized like anonymous publications. Or they could be alphabetized, as here, under Wikipedia, although arranging them by date may or may not be very helpful. If you are sensible, reader-friendly, and consistent you are unlikely to bother anybody very much.
All those percent signs in there are the way non-Roman writing systems were represented over the internet until late in 2009. Although other scripts may appear in internet addresses, this is how they normally appear when you cut and paste the reference from your browser's address window into your bibliography, and they can be used to reach the page. They are ugly, but the system does work.
This work is by an unknown author. In a brief list like this, one could assign it to the author "Anonymous," but what if there are a lot of anonymous works? Furthermore there is no clear date on it —hence the "n.d." where the date would go. Accordingly, the YGDY is an arbitrary citation tag (taken from the initials of the first four syllables of the title) designed merely to provide an easy way to accommodate the reference in the in-text citations and to order it into the bibliography in a predictable place. The use of tags of this kind, relatively new to historical writing, is such a convenience that some authors now use them even when the ancient author is known. (Some style sheets default to using the full title rather than an abbreviation for it. Since full titles are potentially quite long, this is rarely convenient and fits quite badly with in-text citation.)
The city of publication is known, but not the publisher. If the city were unknown, the appreviation "n.p." ("no place") would stand in its place, with or without the name of a pulisher following it.
If you know Chinese and have the facilities to print it or want to write it in, the place to put it is just after the Romanized spelling of the title, as with any other East Asian book.
A few editors used to want the information about the original, untranslated edition, and it does help keep the intellectual history complete, but often it is unavailable, and in the end you are reading a translation because that is what you have at hand or are able to deal with. The format here is perfectly adequate. Note that one does not normally alphabetize the book under the name of the translator, however, unless its authorship is unknown.
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