56. Sources/In-Text Citations

Those sections of books or other publications that contain the full information about the sources of information used or cited in the book or publication should be called by the title of ‘Sources’. It should not be called ‘References’, ‘Works Cited’, ‘Notes’, or anything else.

Each entry should begin with a regular number (1, 2, 3, etc.) followed by a period and two spaces so that each entry in this list of sources can be clearly referred to using this number. The list of sources should be organized in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name. The general structure of an entry should be such that the following questions are answered in the following order:

  1. Who – name of the author, last name first
  2. What – medium (if no author is listed, then the ‘medium’ would be listed after ‘title of work’), title of work, including edition number, page numbers, and other such identifying information
  3. When – publishing date of work
  4. Where – publishing information (I really don’t see the reason this publishing information is necessary, so it could probably be omitted from this list here.)

(I would have liked to organize these citations in the What, Who, When, (Where?) order, but that may make it too hard for readers or researchers to find sources quickly. It is much easier, more practical and more useful to organize references based on authorship than on works authored, both because authors may have a certain reputation among their readers and because one author can publish several different works, all of which could be listed together, and found easier, in the ‘Sources’ section under the author’s name.)

All sources/citations should also state the medium of the source, such as whether it is a book, magazine, interview, movie, etc. Each of these categories should be ended with a period while sections within categories should be separated with commas. Colons or semicolons should never be used. Abbreviations should not be used anywhere within a citation. Relevant information should generally be organized from the general to the specific: names from last to first, dates from year to month to day, parts of larger works from name of multi-volume sets, to volume, chapter, page number.

The first line of each entry (including the entry number) should be up against the left margin. Every succeeding line should be indented 5 spaces to the right. The word ‘page’ or ‘pages’ should be used before the referenced page numbers are written.

Following are some examples of the way different sources should be cited. Most of these examples are taken from, or derived from, the writing manual, “A Writer’s Reference.” In some cases, I made up the information.


  1. Basic format for a book.
    Tannen, Deborah. Book, The Argument Culture: Moving from Debate to Dialogue. 1998.
  2. Author with an editor.
    Wells, Ida B. Book, The Memphis Diary. Decosta-Willis, Miriam, editor. 1995.
  3. Corporate author.
    Bank of Boston. Book, Bank by Remote Control. 1997.
  4. Encyclopedia or Dictionary.
    “Sonata”. Encyclopedia, Encyclopedia Britannica, 15th edition. 1997.
  5. Work in an anthology.
    Malouf, David. “The Kyogle Line”. Book, The Oxford Book of Travel Stories, pages 390-396. Craig Patricia, editor. 1996.
  6. Book in a series.
    Malena, Anne. Book, Francophone Cultures and Literatures (series), “The Dynamics of Identity in Francophone Caribbean Narrative”, series number 24. 1998.
  7. Republished book.
    McClintock Walter. Book, Old Indian Trials. (Originally published, 1926). William, Least Heat Moon, forward. Republished, 1992.
  8. Article in a monthly magazine.
    Kaplan D. Robert. Magazine, “History Moving North”, Atlantic Monthly, pages 21, 26-28. 1997 February.
  9. Article in a daily newspaper.
    Knox, A. Richard. Newspaper, “Please Don’t Dial and Drive, Study Suggests”, Boston Globe, A1, A5-A6. 1997 February 13.
  10. Editorial in a newspaper.
    Editorial. Newspaper, “Health Risk on Tap”, Los Angeles Times, B6. 1998 February 11.
  11. Personal Interview<br />
    Lehrer, Jim. Interview, Clinton Bill. 1998 April 21.
  12. Radio or TV Interview.
    Rose, Charlie. Interview, “Gates, Louis Henry”, Charlie Rose, PBS, WNET. 1997 February 13.
  13. Unknown Author.

    Oxford Essential World Atlas. 1996.
  14. Translation.
    Mahfouz, Naguib. Book, Arabian Nights and Days. Johnson-Davies, Denys, translator. 1995.

Each of multiple references to the same author should constitute a new entry in the ‘Sources’ section, unless the exact same material, including page number, paragraph, and idea is referenced again.

Each of these Sources should also be listed, in full, at the bottom of the page in which the citation appears.

In text references to materials listed in the ‘Sources’ section should be denoted by a superscript lower case letter “s” immediately followed by a number corresponding to the number in which that particular source is listed in the ‘Sources’ section. An example would be s24.

Sources and bibliographies should be allowed (not required) to be merged into the same list.

Notes that the author may wish to add for any reason would be formatted in a way similar to ‘Sources’ and be called ‘Notes’. In-text references to notes would be denoted by a superscript lower case letter “n” immediately followed by a number corresponding to the number in which that particular note is listed in the book, such as n7. However, there would not be a separate section in the book dedicated to listing the full expanded notes of the author. Instead, all notes should be written on the bottom of the page in which the in-text citation is made to make it easy for the reader to quickly find and read the notes. If that is not deemed practical by the author, then the notes should be placed at least at the end of the chapter so people don’t have to go all the way to the end of the book to find them. These notes should be numbered beginning with the number 1 (i.e., n1) and should continue uninterrupted throughout the book. They should not begin again with the number one for the first note of each new chapter.

Leave a Reply