Help with Citations Part 1: Secondary Source Footnotes

As a follow-up to my last posts about citation abbreviations, I thought I’d make a tutorial on how to cite (just in case you need a little refresher). This week’s post will focus on citing secondary sources using Chicago style (which many students find more difficult because it requires footnotes) but we will also briefly discuss using APA style and MLA style because they are frequently used by Classicists.  

Now, I am not going to provide an extensive reference for citing secondary sources (you can follow the links above for that). What I am going to do is show you all, step by step, how to use a style manual. Let’s take a step back. What is a style manual?  A style manual is a complete guide to formatting a piece of writing. What does that mean? Well, every manual of style has precise instructions for how to format everything in your paper, including margins, title pages, page numbers, font, footnotes, bibliography, and anything else you can think of. These instructions ensure visual consistency from page to page. Because they are so comprehensive, these manuals of style are quite large and are published as books in their own right. The big three are available online, but not for free, although many universities pay to subscribe for their students.

Most of us don’t need such detailed information for our papers (and the complete manuals of style can be expensive). If an online resource works for you and you have access to a university subscription, I would recommend using the complete style guide online. If you’d rather have a paper book, I would recommend for most students, instead of buying the comprehensive guide, my favorite: Kate Turabian’s Manual for Writers.  It has a large number of examples for many different scenarios and sells on Amazon for under $20.

I have students come to me all the time with citation problems who tell me that they found some website or another that has information on citations. While I would not discourage students from looking at these websites if they have questions or want more examples, there are some problems with using many of these online sources. Some of these websites are out-of-date and are showing you examples from previous editions (and yes, the guides change!). The current edition for the Chicago manual of style is the 16th and the current edition for the MLA is the 8th edition (updated in 2016). Some websites are also just plain wrong. Like anything else you find on the internet, you should make sure that the information you are using comes from a reliable source.

Other sources are up-to-date but only have very few select examples, which can be equally problematic. For example, a website might provide examples for how to cite a book, a chapter within a book, and an article in a journal. But what about a book with a translator? What about a book in its second edition? All of these scenarios have their own entries in the manual, and therefore they should be consulted when putting together footnotes and a bibliography. Approaching your instructor with the defense that you didn’t know how to cite it because the example wasn’t on the website you consulted is not going to cut it in most cases. Even if the website comes from someplace you consider reliable (like a university), it might not have a complete list of examples for how to cite all the different kinds of sources you can encounter.

So let’s get down to how you use these manuals of style.

Chicago

For the purposes of this tutorial, I’m going to use the online version of the Chicago Manual of Style 16th edition, which I have access to through my university library.  Here is an example of a text, with footnotes, that I’ve created as a tutorial.

How did I do this?  Let’s recreate the document step by step. First, I was writing along until it was time to cite my first book, by John Scholar (yes, I made these names up; no, I’m apparently not that creative). Since we’re using Chicago, my citation needs to go in a footnote (Chicago does have an in-text citation style like MLA that you can use if you’re allowed to; more on choosing which style to use later in the post). To insert the footnote in Microsoft Word, you need to locate the insert footnote button. In newer versions of Word, the insert footnote button is in the ribbon (the row of buttons at the top of the page) under the References tab. The Windows and Mac versions look a little different (and of course older or newer versions of the software will look slightly different as well).  Here’s an example from a Windows version (2010):

Microsoft Word Home Ribbon with References Circled

Microsoft Word Insert Footnote

And here is how to find it in the most recent version of Word for Mac:

Microsoft Word Home Ribbon with References Circled

Microsoft Word Insert Footnote

(TIP: in older Mac versions, you need to to the the Insert menu and choose the footnote option.)

Once you’ve clicked on the button, Microsoft Word will create a footnote section at the bottom of the page, divided from your text with a line, and it will place your cursor right after the small number 1 at the bottom of the page. Please note that in Chicago the footnote goes after the period that ends the sentence containing the reference, and that for footnotes you should always use the Arabic numerals option (e.g., 1, 2, 3), not Roman numerals (e.g., I, II, III or i, ii, iii) or any other symbols.

Microsoft Word create footnote

Now let’s type the text of the footnote. What goes in the footnote? First you have to identify what kind of source it is. In our example, it’s a book by a single author. To see what should go in the text of your footnote, look up the type of source in your guide: a book by a single author.

Chicago Manual of Style online examples page

To build our footnote, we need to put in information for the author’s name, the title of the book, the publisher, the place of publication, the year of publication, and the page number where we got the information (you should have all of this information in your notes). The manual shows you exactly what that footnote should look like and all you have to do is imitate it. For our book, here is the information:

Author: John Scholar. Title of the book: Studying History. Place of Publication: Oxford. Publisher: Oxford University Press. Year: 2015. Page Number: 55.

To make the footnote we first type the author’s name, first name first, in the note, followed by a comma (,) and the title of the book in italics. After the title, with no intervening punctuation, we put in parentheses the place of publication followed by a colon (:), the publisher followed by a comma, and the year.  After the close parenthesis there is a comma and then finally the page number followed by a period.

John Scholar, Studying History (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015), 55.

In some cases the footnote is enough, but in other cases you will also need a bibliography. Each source that you cite in a footnote will need its own bibliography entry (just one, even if you cite it multiple times). For your bibliography, use the corresponding bibliography entry information in the manual. Careful: the format is different! First, type the name of the author (this time, last name first, followed by a comma) with a period after the first name. Then type in the title of the book in italics, followed by a period. Then the place of publication, followed by a colon; the publisher, followed by a comma; and finally the year, followed by a period. Note that there are no page numbers in the bibliography entry for a single-authored book:

Scholar, John. Studying History. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2015.

The page number that you consulted belongs in the footnote referring to the text where you used that specific piece of information. The bibliography entry should be universal. It is for all of the times that you cited the book in your text and therefore does not need the page numbers that you consulted.

Now you might be confused. What about all those times when you’ve seen page numbers in the bibliography? Well, those are for articles or chapters from books. When you are citing an article or a part of a book (for example, one of those multi-author anthologies like the Cambridge or Blackwell Companions) you need to include the page numbers for the entire article so that your reader can locate what you’ve cited. Here’s an example:

Professor, Sally. “History and the Humanities. In How Important is History?, edited by Jim Editor, 34-55. Berkeley: University of California Press, 2014.

The page numbers at the end of the citation refer to the page numbers for the entire book chapter.

When formatting your bibliography, don’t use numbers or letters like in an outline. Instead, alphabetize your bibliography and indent the second line of the text:

bibliography-example

As you can see here, both the chapter in the book by Sally Professor and the article by Bill Writer have page numbers in their entries, but in both cases those page numbers refer to the page numbers of the part of the work they wrote (the article or the chapter) and not the page numbers consulted for the assignment.

So far I’ve given you an example of how to cite in Chicago a single-authored book. But there are more than just single-authored books (as the bibliography above and the screenshot from the Chicago Manual of Style Online show you). How do you cite those things? Exactly the same way. You look up the format for whatever kind of source you have in front of you and you follow the example given to you in the style manual. Let’s do another one, this time for an article in a journal. First, look it up in the style guide:

Chicago Manual of Style online examples page

We then take the information for the article we used and format it just like the example in the style guide:

Bill Writer, “History is Terrible,” Canadian History Journal 46, no. 2 (2010): 325.

Just like for our book, the author’s name is first-last, followed by a comma. In this case, the title of the article (just like titles of book chapters) is in quotation marks, followed by a comma. The title of the journal is italicized and followed by the journal and issue number. The first number, in this case the 46, is the number for the specific volume of the journal. Many journals are published more than once a year, but they vary in how they number their output. Some journals use the same volume number for the entire year, and specify with an issue number whether it’s the first, second, third, etc. volume of the year. Other journals use continuous numeration, giving every new issue a new number. That’s why some journals have two numbers, but others won’t: the second number is the number of the issue for that particular volume. It should only be included when relevant: don’t make up a second set of numbers if the journal you’ve consulted only has one.

Note also that the page number above, 325, is the number for the page where we got the specific information, while in the bibliography entry the page range for the entire article is given:

Writer, Bill. “History is Terrible.” Canadian History Journal 46, no 2 (2010): 315-334.

Notice that the author’s name is inverted again (last, first) and that the title of the article is in quotation marks while the title of the journal is in italics.

Now there are a few, final things that I would like to caution you to look out for. There are many different kinds of books. Some of them have multiple authors, some of them have editors and authors, some of them have translators. Some articles are published in newspapers, some in magazines, some in journals. Each of these specific scenarios has a very specific way to cite it both in your footnotes and in your bibliography. Use the same manual of style to find the appropriate type of source and cite it correctly. Unfortunately there is no such thing as ‘one citation fits all,’ but a complete manual will have all the information you need to cite any type of source (you just need to find it).

We covered above using footnotes for citations in Chicago, but I hinted that Chicago also has an option for an in-text citation like MLA.  For in-text citations, follow the style guide for the author-date format:

chicago-manual-of-style-author-date

To use the citation in your text, simply place the information in parentheses at the end of the sentence that contains the reference. Please note that the period goes after the citation.

Note too that when using in-text citations in both Chicago and MLA you need a bibliography entry because the full publication information is not given in the reference.  To format your in-text citation according to the MLA manual of style, find a style guide follow the instructions for the specific type of source (just like we did for Chicago).

How do you know if you should use footnotes or in-text citations? Chicago or MLA? The easiest answer is that you should follow the instructions for your assignment. If you get to pick, then it’s a personal preference. I prefer in-text citations, but many people find them intrusive. Really it’s up to you.

I covered the Chicago Manual of Style in this post because, in my experience, students are less comfortable using footnotes than in-text citations. Now that you know how to use a manual of style, you can pick whichever one you want (or whichever one is required for your assignment) and use it with confidence. Just remember to pay attention to details: those commas and periods are important. Also make sure to correctly identify your source. Books with one author are cited differently than books with editors or translators, or than articles in journals.

One last bit of advice: don’t save your citations until the last minute. Leave yourself plenty of time to make sure your citations are correct, especially if you aren’t confident in your ability to apply a specific style. Rushing will not help you get the details right.


~m.

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4 thoughts on “Help with Citations Part 1: Secondary Source Footnotes

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