Documenting Sources In Research Papers

Documentation styles

What Is Documentation?

When conducting research, you must credit the sources you used which contributed to your final product. This attribution, or documentation, serves several purposes:

  • It provides a way for your readers (or professor) to read more about your topic;
  • It allows readers to evaluate the sources you used to reach a conclusion with which they may or may not agree; and
  • Documentation is necessary so that you will not appear to be plagiarizing, or claiming as your own, someone else’s work.

What Is A Bibliography?

Documentation is given in the form of a bibliography, or list of sources (sometimes called “references”) cited; footnotes or endnotes (depending on documentation style) are often included as well.

Parenthetical citations – brief notes in parentheses that direct the reader to citations in the bibliography – are given in the body of the paper and are used to attribute a direct quote or idea.

bibliography is found in the last pages of a research paper, article, book, etc., and should be a complete list of all sources the author cited. In MLA style, the bibliography is known as the works cited page.

What Is A Citation?

Each source within a bibliography must be documented with a citation, which is the listing of elements (author, title, etc.) someone else would need in order to locate the source. A periodical article citation should include:

  • title of journal or magazine which contains article;
  • author and title of article;
  • volume number (if periodical is issued in volumes);
  • issue number (if periodical is numbered);
  • date of issue containing article; and
  • page numbers of article.

A book citation should include:

  • author of book;
  • title of book;
  • publisher name;
  • geographic location of publisher;
  • date of publication; and
  • page numbers if only a portion of the book was used.

When citing an Internet site, it is always necessary to supply:

  • the site’s URL (address); and
  • the date on which you visited the site. Other information will vary depending on how much documentation information the site provides.

“Parenthetical” References

In the body of a paper documented in ALA or MLA style, direct quotes and ideas are attributed to their sources through the use of parenthetical references. Information about the origin of borrowed ideas is included parenthetically (in parentheses) in the text. For example, an idea from an article by Alfred Einstein written in 1905 and used to support a point in a student paper might be attributed like this:

MLA Style: (Einstein 1905)

ALA Style: (Einstein, 1905)

The full citation to the article would appear in the bibliography. See the section on Documentation Styles below for further information.

What Is An Annotated Bibliography?

Often instructors ask you to prepare an annotated bibliography. Like a regular bibliography, an annotated bibliography is a listing of sources consulted, but with the inclusion of a brief descriptive and evaluative paragraph following each citation that summarizes the central theme or scope of the book or article. Each annotation should include:

  • an evaluation of the author as an authority on the subject;
  • the source’s intended audience;
  • a comparison of this source with at least one other you cited; and
  • an explanation of the usefulness of this source to your research.

Documentation Styles

Your instructor will probably specify a documentation style for you to use, which gives guidance on citing each type of source you might use (book, article, etc.), the order in which to list the citation elements, and the punctuation to use when doing so. You will need to consult the style manual for whatever documentation style your professor asks you to use.

Two of the most popular styles are those of the American Psychological Association (APA), used in the sciences, and the Modern Language Association (MLA), used in the humanities. The reference collection contains manuals for both styles. Examples follow to illustrate the similarities and differences between these two styles.

Note: Due to the different sizes of computer monitor screens, the following examples should not be used for guidance on indentation and spacing.

Research Hint

Make use of the following resources when documenting your paper:

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.
Location: North Atlanta (4th ed.), Rome (5th ed.) R 808.02 Am3p

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 5th edition.
Location: Lawrenceville, Riverdale, Rome R 808.02 G35ml

Citation Guidelines for GALILEO Resources

The Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition published by the University of Chicago Press

APA Style

The entries below are in the following order:

  • Type of Citation
  • Citation As It Appears in Reference List
  • Parenthetical Reference

Book by a Single Author (4.16 B)
Berry, D. R. (1975). Central ideas in sociology: An introduction. Itasca, IL: Peacock.
Titles of books are italicized.
(Berry, 1975) (3.94)

Book by Two or More Authors (4.16 B)
Wallace, R. A., & Wolf, A. (1980). Contemporary sociological theory. Englewood Cliffs, NJ: Prentice-Hall.
There is always a comma after the first author’s name.
(Wallace & Wolf, 1980) (3.95)

Work in an Anthology (4.16 B 34-40)
Nichols, L. T. (2001). Parsons and Simmel at Harvard: Scientific paradigms and organizational culture. In A. J. Trevino (Ed.), Talcott Parsons today (pp. 1-28). Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.
Only the first letter of the title is capitalized. The first letter of the subtitle (which comes after a colon) is also capitalized.
“Nichols noted in his 2001 article on Parsons and Simmel at Harvard that .” (3.94)

Article in a Reference Book (4.16 B 38)
Karner, T. X. (2000). Social capital. In Borgatta, E. F., & Montgomery, R. J. V. (Eds.), Encyclopedia of sociology (Vol. 4, pp. 2637-2641). New York: Macmillan Reference.
If the article is not signed, place the title of the article before the date.
(Karner, 2000) (3.94)

Multivolume Work (4.16 B 28, 30)
Borgatta, E. F., & Montgomery, R. J. V. (Eds.). (2000). Encyclopedia of sociology. (2nd ed., Vols. 1-4). New York: Macmillan Reference.
The reference list is double-spaced throughout, in 12-point type.
(Borgatta & Montgomery, 2000) (3.95)

Article in a Scholarly Journal with Continuous Pagination (4.16 A 1)
Burke, A., McMillan, J., Cummins, L., Thompson, A., Forsyth, W., McLellan, J., et al. (2003). Setting up participatory research: A discussion of the initial stages. British Journal of Learning Disabilities, 31(2), 65-69.
After the name of the sixth author, use et al. (“and others”) in place of the names of subsequent authors.
(Burke et al., 2003) (3.95)

For works with:

*6 + authors, cite only the first author followed by “et al.”
*3 – 5 authors, cite all authors the first time; cite the first author followed by “et al.” each time thereafter.

Article in a Scholarly Journal that Pages Each Issue Separately (4.16 A 2)
Keiser, J. (2004). Chief executives from 1960 – 1989: A trend toward professionalization. Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies, 10(3), 52-68.
Place the issue number in parentheses following the volume number. Note that the volume number, but not the issue number, is italicized.
“Keiser notes in his study of chief executives (2004).” (3.94)

Article in a Newspaper (4.16 A 9-11)
Meier, B. (2004, June 18). Merck backs U.S. database to track drug trials. The New York Times, p. C1.
If the article is not signed, place the title of the article before the date. (4.16 A 9)
(Meier, 2004) (3.94)

If the article is unsigned, use the first words of the title in place of the author’s name, i.e., (“Merck backs,” 2004) (3.97)

Article in a Magazine (4.16 A)
Buckley, W. F., Jr. Aweigh: A master and commander decides, after a lifetime on the water, that he will no longer go down to the sea. (2004, July/August). The Atlantic Monthly, 294(1), 136-141.
(Buckley, 2004) (3.94)

Article in a GALILEO Database (4.16 I 88-90)
Featherstone, H. J., & Sansom, J. (2004). Feline corneal sequestra: A review of 64 cases (80 eyes) from 1993 to 2000.Veterinary Ophthalmology, 7(4), 213-228. Retrieved June 21, 2004 from Academic Search Premier database.
Cite an article from an online database as you would cite its print counterpart, followed by date retrieved and name of database.
(Featherstone & Sansom, 2004) (3.95)

Article in an Online Periodical (4.16 I 71-74)
Weissinger, T. (2004). The new literacy thesis: Implications for librarianship. Portal: Libraries and the Academy, 4(2). Retrieved December 22, 2001 from: access.cgi?uri=/journals/ portal_libraries_and_the_academy/
Use the URL of the article, not the publication. If it is necessary to insert a line break in a URL, do so after a slash or before a period.
(Bushman, 1998) (3.95)

Single Page of an Internet Site (4.16 I 75, 77)
Science Museum of Minnesota. (1995). Maya sites. In Maya adventure. Retrieved June 17, 2004 from:
(Science Museum of Minnesota, 1995) (3.96)

Entire Internet Site (4.16 I 76, 78)
Gallagher, James. (2002, September 17). A – Z to deafblindness. Retrieved June 17, 2004 from
When citing a multipage document, provide the URL for the home page.
(Gallagher, 2002) (3.94)

MLA Style

The entries below are in the following order:

  • Type of Citation
  • Citation As It Appears in Reference List
  • Parenthetical Reference

References to APA Publication Manual Sections are in red; explanatory notes are in green.
Book by a Single Author (5.6.1)
Holmes, Hannah. The Secret Life of Dust: From the Cosmos to the Kitchen Counter, the Big Consequences of Little Things. New York: Wiley, 2001.
All MLA citations have a hanging indentation.
“The importance of small things is discussed in Holmes’ book .” (6.4.1)
Here the entire book is cited.

Book by Two or More Authors (5.6.4)
Wolpert, Lewis, and Allison Richards. A Passion for Science. New York: Oxford UP, 1988.
There is always a comma after the first author’s name.
(Wolpert and Richards 114) (6.4.2)
Only part of the book is cited.

Work in an Anthology (5.6.7)
Anderson, Sherwood. “The Other Woman.” The Best Short Stories of the Century. Ed. John Updike and Katrina Kenison. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 1999. 38-44.
Cite the name of the author of the work that appears in the anthology, then the name of his work in quotation marks. Cite the anthology itself afterward.
(Anderson 40) (6.4.2)

Article in a Reference Book (5.6.8)
Zender, Karl F. “Barn Burning.” A William Faulkner Encyclopedia. Ed. Robert W. Hamblin and Charles A. Peek. Westport, CT: Greenwood, 1999.
(Zender 28) (6.4.2)

Multivolume Work (5.6.15)
Simpson J.A., and E.S.C. Weiner. The Oxford English Dictionary. 20 vols. New York: Oxford UP, 1998.
“UP” is an abbreviation for “University Press.” See 7.1 – 7.7 for a list of standard abbreviations.
(Simpson and Weiner 8: 217) (6.4.3)
Author’s names are followed by volume and page numbers.

E-book from netLibrary (5.9.3)
Gee, Helen. Limelight: A Greenwich Village Photography Gallery and Coffeehouse in the Fifties: A Memoir. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 1997. netLibrary. 7 May 2003.
< asp?product_id=22621>.
U of New Mexico P is the original publisher; netLibrary is the electronic publisher. 7 May 2003 is the date that this book was accessed on netLibrary. Enclose URLs in < > symbols.
“Helen Gee states that.” (6.4.1)
Incorporate the author’s name into the sentence when page numbers are not given.

Article in a Scholarly Journal with Continuous Pagination (5.7.1)
Louis, Henock. “The Cost of Using Bank Mergers as Defensive Mechanisms against Takeover Threats.” Journal of Business 77 (2004): 295-310.
Cite the volume, but not the issue number, after the name of the journal.
(Henock 299) (6.4.2)

Article in a Scholarly Journal that Pages Each Issue Separately (5.7.2)
Keiser, John D. “Chief Executives from 1960 – 1989: A Trend toward Professionalization.” Journal of Leadership and Organizational Studies 10.3 (2004): 52-68.
Cite the volume, followed by a period, then the issue number, after the name of the journal.
“Keiser relates the same point in his study of chief executives (55) .” (6.4.2)

Article in a Newspaper (5.7.5)
Vogel, Carol. “Once Again, The Whitney is Planning to Expand.” New York Times 19 May. 2004: E1.
Give the newspaper’s section and page number after publication year. If the article is unsigned, use the first words of the title in place of the author’s name. (5.7.9)
(Vogel E1) (6.4.2)
If the article is unsigned, use the first words of the title in place of the author’s name, i.e., (“Once again”) (6.4.4)

Article in a Magazine (5.7.6)
Weathers, Diane. “The Message in Our Music.” Essence June 2004: 24.
Do not include the volume or issue numbers, even if these are included in the citation.
(Weathers 24) (6.4.2)

Article in a GALILEO Database (5.9.7)
Shannon, Susan. “Adult Learning and CME.” The Lancet 361.9353 (2003): 266. Research Library. ProQuest. GALILEO. 7 May 2003 <>.
Cite the article as you would if you had found it in print, followed by the database from which it was retrieved, the database producer, GALILEO, the date of retrieval, and the GALILEO URL.
“Shannon has noted in her work on adult learning that.” (6.4.1)
Incorporate the author’s name into the sentence when page numbers are not given.

Article in an Online Periodical (5.9.4)
Heller-Ross, Holly. “Library Support for Distance Learning Programs: A Distributed Model.” The Journal of Library Services for Distance Education 2.1 (1999). < jlsde2.1.html>.
“Heller-Ross states in her article.” (6.4.1)

Single Page of an Internet Site (5.9.1)
Johnston, Carol Ann. “Eudora Welty.” The Mississippi Writers Page. 2004. Dept. of English, U of Mississippi. 3 June 2004 < welty_eudora/index.html>.
If known, cite the author of the individual page. Put the name of the page in quotation marks.
“Johnston discusses Welty’s The Robber Bridegroom on her ‘Eudora Welty’ page.” (6.4.2)

Entire Internet Site
The Mississippi Writers Page. 2004. Dept. of English, U of Mississippi. 3 June 2004. <>.
2004 is the copyright date of the Web site. 3 June 2003 is the date of access. If there is an editor for the Web site, put his or her name between the title and copyright date in this form: Ed. Firstname, Lastname.
“The Mississippi Writers Page contains biographies of writers from the Magnolia state.” (6.4.1)

Sound Recording (5.8.2)
Bach, Johan Sebastian. Mass in B-Minor. The Monteverdi Choir and The English Baroque Soloists. Cond. John Eliot Gardiner. Rec. Feb. 1985. Archiv Produktion, 1985.
You may list the composer, conductor, or performer(s) first, depending on desired emphasis. If not a CD, specify medium after manufacturer’s name: Audiocassette, Audiotape (reel-to-reel), or LP.

Film or Video Recording (5.8.3)
The Man in the Gray Flannel Suit. By Sloan Wilson. Dir. Nunnally Johnson. Perf. Gregory Peck, Jennifer Jones, Fredric March, Gene Lockhart, Marisa Pavan, Lee J. Cobb, Ann Harding, Keenan Wynn. 1956. Videocassette. Fox Video, 1997.
For original films, include title, director, performers, distributor, and date. For films released in a new medium (video, DVD, etc.), retain original release date and note new medium, new distributor, and new release date.

Musical Composition (5.8.5)
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Piano Concerto, K491.
Works identified by name are underlined. Instrumental compositions identified by form, number, or key should be left in plain text as above.

Published Score (5.8.5)
Mozart, Wolfgang Amadeus. Piano Concerto, K491. Washington: Robert Owen Lehman Foundation, 1964.
Cite a published score as if it were a book.

Chicago Style

Simple book citation:

      1Herbert S. Klein, Bolivia, the Evolution of a Multi-Ethnic Society (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 318.

Notice that the author’s name is in its natural order followed by a comma, the title is either italicized or underlined and the publication information is enclosed in parentheses. A comma separates the page number from the rest of the note and the note ends with a period.

Two author book:

      2Norman L. Rosenberg and Emily S. Rosenberg, In Our Times: America Since World War II 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2003), 368.

Editor as author:

      3Thomas G. Paterson ed., The Origins of the Cold War 2 nd ed. (Lexington, Massachusetts: D. C. Heath Co., 1974), 274.

Author’s book translated by another:

      4Nikita S. Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers trans. Strobe Talbot (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1970), 639.


      5David W. Phillipson, African Archaeology (Boston: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 418.

Simple journal article citation:

      6Elliott Dyan, “Seeing Double: John Gerson,” American Historical Review vol. 107, no. 1 (2002): 26-54.

E-journal article:

     7Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, “The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past,” Journal of American History; Vol. 91 Issue 4, (Mar2005): p1233-1263.


      8Michael Rawson, “Plagiarism: Curricular Materials for History Instructors,” American Historical Association, intro.htm. (Updated: April 26, 2007).

The examples given are for a first reference to a source, second and subsequent citations may be shortened by using only the last name of the author, an abbreviated version of the title (use just enough of the title to clearly identify the source) and the page number.


Historians document their research using a bibliography formatted in the Chicago Style rather than a “Works Cited” page. Where a works cited page typically includes only those sources actually cited in the paper a bibliography includes all works consulted and used in the research for the paper whether they were actually cited or not. In this way a bibliography is a more comprehensive record of the research process. Bibliographies are organized in alphabetical order by the last name of the author, therefore the first item in a bibliographic entry is the author’s name, last name first. The title of the work, and publishing information follow much as in a citation note but the order, format and punctuation are different. Entries themselves are single spaced but there should be an empty line in between entries.

Simple book entry:

Ellis, Steven G. Ireland in the age of the Tudors, 1447-1603 : English expansion and the end of       Gaelic rule London: Longman, 1998.

Notice that Bibliographic entries are neither numbered nor indented as notes are. The first line extends all the way to the margins of the page but second and subsequent lines are indented one half inch from the margins. This is known as a hanging indent and can be easily done by your word processing program.

Two author book:

Fuchida, Mitsuo and Masatake Okumiya. Midway: the Battle that Doomed Japan, the Japanese       Navy’s Story. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2001.

Editor as author:

Eubank, Kieth ed., World War II: Roots and Causes. Lexington, Massachusetts: D. C. Heath and       Company, 1975.

Author’s book translated by another:

Manceron, Claude. Blood of the Bastille. translated by Nancy Amphoux. New York: Simon and       Schuster, 1989.


Frank, Stephen P. Crime, Cultural Conflict, and Justice in Rural Russia, 1856-1914. Berkeley,       California: University of California Press, 1999.

Simple journal article citation:

Friedman, Max Paul. “Anti-Americanism and U.S. Foreign Relations.” Diplomatic History vol. 32,       no. 4 (September 2008): 497-514.

E-journal article:

Hochedlinger, Michael, “Who’s Afraid of the French Revolution? Austrian Foreign Policy and the       European Crisis 1787-1797.” German History vol. 21 Issue 3, (August 2003) p293-318.


Rael, Patrick, “Avoid Common Mistakes in Your History Paper,” Bowdoin College, (Accessed September 16, 2008).

Since precise details of sources vary widely it is impossible to provide examples of all possible notes in a brief guide; students are advised to consult Turabian, or The Chicago Manual for other examples of notes and bibliographic entries that fit specific sources. If you are still not able to determine how to cite and document a given source you should consult the instructor of your course.

Online Style Guides:

Bedford/St. Martin’s Press’ “A Writer’s Reference”

Chicago Manual of Style Online (Requires Subscription)

The Library of Congress’ “Citing Primary Sources”

Purdue University’s “Purdue Online Writing Lab”

H-net’s “a brief citation guide for internet sources in history and the humanities

Documenting Sources in the Disciplines: Overview


This handout provides an exhaustive list of style guide information for documenting sources in different disciplines. The handout is organized by discipline and includes both a link to the main organizational website and also a link for an online guide to using that style.

Contributors:Dana Lynn Driscoll, Allen Brizee
Last Edited: 2012-06-04 01:47:55

Each discipline uses its own citation style; therefore, when it comes time to document sources for a paper, you will have to make sure that you choose and follow the appropriate guidelines for the discipline you are writing in. This handout will help you find resources for citing sources and formatting your paper in various disciplines. If you are looking for how to document electronic sources, please click here.

The best source for information about citing sources and formatting papers in any discipline is their style manual. Many disciplines now also have supplementary web sites to accompany their style manuals, which will include the latest updates for citation formats, particularly for documenting electronic sources. Here is a list (with MLA formatted citations) of some style manuals for various disciplines and their accompanying websites (if available). The list also includes links to material that explains how to use these citation styles in more detail, including material available on our OWL.

Most of these style manual listings were taken from the MLA style manual. Wikipedia also maintains a list of citation styles. If you know of other official style manuals and related websites for your discipline or for a discipline not listed here, please send us an email via this form with the information and we will add it to the page.


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