Standard Documentation Formats

Traditional Endnotes or Footnotes | MLA Parenthetical System | APA Parenthetical System | Numbered-Note System | Electronic Sources

Different disciplines use their own systems to set out information about sources, but learning one or two of them should serve for most of your studies. These samples of the four main systems show the items of information that different disciplines consider important, as well as the different details of punctuation and indentation they use.

For more thorough advice, see the manuals mentioned with each system or look at general handbooks such as Hacker, Canadian Writer's Reference (PE 1408 H33) or Northey and Procter, Writer's Choice: A Portable Guide for Canadian Students (LB 2369 N677 1998).

(NOTE: The appearance of the examples may be altered by your browser. If in doubt about matters such as spacing or indentation, check the reference works mentioned.) Please note also that many of the examples cited are fictional.

Traditional Endnotes or Footnotes with Superscript Numbers (humanities)

This system of small raised numbers signalling footnotes or endnotes, followed by a bibliography, used to be the standard method of documentation. It is still preferred by some humanities disciplines (including History) and some sciences because it interrupts the essay very little. It's easier for the reader to follow, but harder for the writer to set up. You can choose either endnotes or footnotes, according to convenience (and let your word-processor help you deal with them).

See the example below for a demonstration, and also keep these points in mind:

  • When you refer to a source the second time, you can shorten the note by using only the author's last name and the page number (e.g., Singh, 435). That's easier than learning the old-fashioned system of Latin abbreviations such as op. cit. ("in the same work") and ibid. ("in the same place").
  • In listing a Web page as a source, include the date you read the page as well as the URL. That information lets your reader judge whether he or she is seeing the same version of the Web page you looked at. See also our note on Electronic Sources.
  • Even in this system, you can use parentheses within your prose to give page or line numbers for primary texts you're analysing (e.g. documents or works of literature). Use a note only for the first such reference, to indicate the edition you're using, and let your reader know that all subsequent references are to this edition.

The excerpt below follows the system set out in Turabian, Manual for Writers, 6th edition (LB2369 T8 1996). You may also want to consult the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (Z253 C45 2003). The University of California at Berkeley provides a useful summary of the Traditional system of referencing.

Example:

When Hamlet protests to his mother, "Leave wringing of your hands" (3.4.35),1 he is naming a universally recognizable gesture. As Singh says, similar broad physical movements are "still the most direct way of indicating inner turmoil."2 Zygmundi confirms their continuing usefulness in contemporary productions of other sixteenth-century plays.3 Renaissance audiences would have recognized hand-wringing as a signal for inner distress,4 specifically for a condition that the Elizabethan author Reynolds named "ague of the spirits."5

Notes

1William Shakespeare, Hamlet, in The Norton Introduction to Literature, 8th ed., ed. Alison Booth, J. Paul Hunter, Kelly J. Mays, and Jerome Beaty (New York: W.W. Norton, 2001), 996. Subsequent parenthetical references will refer to this edition.

2Jasmine Singh, "Renovating Hamlet for Contemporary Audiences," UTQ 67 (Summer 1998): 434.

3David Zygmundi, "Acting Out the Moralities for Today's Audiences," Termagant Society Online, http://www.nouniv.ca/soc/termagant/moral.html; accessed 22 August 2006.

4Joan Brown, The Renaissance Stage (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000), 111.

5Peter Reynolds, The Player's Chapbooke, 1587; quoted in Aline Mahieu, Acting Shakespeare (Toronto: Gibson, 2003), 69.

Bibliography

Brown, Joan. The Renaissance Stage. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2000.

Mahieu, Aline. Acting Shakespeare. Toronto: Gibson, 2004.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. In The Norton Introduction to Literature, 8th ed., ed. Alison Booth, J. Paul Hunter, Kelly J. Mays, and Jerome Beaty. 941-1033. New York: W.W. Norton, 2001.

Singh, Jasmine. "Renovating Hamlet for Contemporary Audiences." UTQ 67 (Summer 1998): 431-42.

Zygmundi, David. "Acting Out the Moralities for Today's Audiences." Termagant Society Online. http://www.nouniv.ca/terma/moral.html. Accessed 22 August 2006.

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MLA System: Parenthetical Author-Page References (humanities)

This streamlined format gives author and page in parentheses within the text of the paper, then sets out full references in a Works Cited (or Works Consulted) list. Developed by the Modern Language Association, it is now widely accepted in the humanities. The 2003 edition of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers gives detailed advice and examples. It includes sections on non-print sources such as films, paintings, and sound recordings, and now on Internet sources such as Web pages. It's available in all campus libraries and at U of T Bookstores. See also the MLA website for recommendations on details of referring to non-print sources. The Purdue University's Online Writing Lab provides a handy summary of the MLA system.

NOTE: In listing a Web page as a source, include the date you read the page as well as the URL. That information lets your reader judge whether he or she is seeing the same version of the web page you looked at. See also our note on Electronic Sources.

Example:

When Hamlet protests to his mother, "Leave wringing of your hands" (III.iv.35), he is naming a universally recognizable gesture. As Singh says, similar broad physical movements are "still the most direct way of indicating inner turmoil" (434). Zygmundi confirms their continuing usefulness in contemporary productions of other sixteenth-century plays. Renaissance audiences would have recognized hand-wringing as a signal for inner distress (Brown 111), specifically for a condition that the Elizabethan author Reynolds named "ague of the spirits" (qtd. in Mahieu 69).

Works Cited

Brown, Joan. The Renaissance Stage. Toronto: U of Toronto P, 1996.

Mahieu, Aline. Acting Shakespeare. Toronto: Gibson, 2003.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet, The Norton Introduction to Literature. Ed. Alison Booth, J. Paul Hunter, Kelly J. Mays, and Jerome Beaty. 8th ed. New York: Norton, 2001. 941-1033.

Singh, Jasmine. "Renovating Hamlet for Contemporary Audiences." UTQ 67 (1998): 431-42.

Zygmundi, David. "Acting Out the Moralities for Today's Audiences." Termagant Society Online. 22 Aug. 2006 <http://www.nouniv.ca/soc/termagant/moral.html>.

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APA System: Parenthetical Author-Date References (social sciences)

The social sciences, management studies, and many sciences emphasize the author and date as the most important information about a source. The American Psychological Association has developed the most commonly used system. See the latest edition of the Publication Manual of the APA (BF 76.7 P82 2001) for very detailed advice on formatting a manuscript for publication. The APA website now includes rules on reference formats for Web sources.

This system uses only initials for authors' given names, does not use quotation marks or angle brackets, uses minimal capitalization for titles of books and articles, and italicizes volume numbers as well as journal titles. Strict APA format gives page numbers only for actual quotations (not for paraphrases or summaries), though some modified formats give them for all references. Ask your instructor when to provide page numbers.

Students using the APA system are usually asked to format their papers as if they were manuscripts being prepared for publication; that's why the examples here and in the APA Publication Manual don't look exactly like what you see in journals or books. Here is an example in APA manuscript format:

A group of statisticians, for instance, has re-analysed published data and argued that the compound words claimed as inventions of one chimpanzee are only the results of repeated random juxtapositions (Tannenbaum, Leung, Sudha, & White, 1996). Even more damagingly, Pinker (1994) summarizes the skepticism of various original researchers and observers about whether the signs produced in the Washoe project were really American Sign Language. His conclusion is that chimpanzees' abilities at "anything one would want to call language" (p. 339) are almost nil. Experiments being conducted by Zelasko (2004) have so far failed to confirm the results originally claimed for chimpanzee learning of compound words.

References

Pinker, S. (1994). The language instinct: How the mind creates language. New York: Morrow.

Tannenbaum, R. V., Leung, K., Sudha, J. R., & White, M. A. (1996). A re-examination of the record: Pitty Sing's creation of compound words. Journal of Biostatistics, 9, 368-396.

Zelasko, J. Learning and teaching words: Guided language acquisition among chimpanzees. American Psychologist, 57, 750-765. Retrieved September 20, 2007, from http://www.apa.org/journals/ap57/zelasko.html.

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Numbered Notes (e.g., IEEE, Medical and CSE systems) (sciences)

Other sciences and applied sciences use parenthetical numbers in the text of the paper, matching a numbered list of sources at the end in the sequence the sources were mentioned (not an alphabetical Bibliography, as in the Footnote/Endnote system). Exact formats vary. Look at copies of journals in your discipline to see formatting details, including distinctive punctuation, compressed spacing, and lack of underlining or italics. Your professor may ask you to imitate the format used in a specific journal.

The system worked out by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE) is often used in Computer Science and Engineering. The Engineering Writing Centre offers detailed advice and samples.

Another very compressed system was created at a 1978 meeting of international medical-journal editors (ICMJE) in Vancouver. These Uniform Requirements for Manuscripts Submitted to Biomedical Journals are widely used (with variations) in the life sciences and medical sciences. Model your entries on what you see in journal articles in those fields, or consult the detailed guides prepared by the ICMJE for medicine (also used in biology courses) or by the Council of Science Editors (CSE) for various sciences. The example below uses the system developed by the ICMJE for medicine.

Example:

Gastrointestinal symptoms in some patients have been found to be related to specific life crises (1, 2) such as marriage, retirement, or bereavement. Nausea in particular often lacks an organic cause (1, 3), but can be correlated with stressful events. A recent large-scale study of Danish medical records (4) found that 84% of cases of reported nausea were not resolved by medical treatment.

References

(1) You CH, Lee KY, Chey RY, Menguy R. Electrogastrographic study of patients with unexplained nausea, bloating and vomiting. Gastroenterology 1980;79:311-4.

(2) Dauphin J, Colomba J. Nausea as symptom in school-entering children. Sodeman WA, editor. Stress-related illness. Copenhagen: Munksgaard; 1993.

(3) Seaman WB. The case of the pancreatic pseudocyst. Hospital Practice 1981 Sept;16(9):24-5.

(4) Sodeman WA. Most reported nausea not medically resolved. Family practice research updates [serial online] 1999 Aug (cited 1999 Sep 16];7(8):[6 screens]. Available from: http://www.hosp.da/res/vol4/aug.html

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A Note on Electronic Sources

To refer to sources such as videos or Internet documents, follow your chosen system as far as possible in giving author, title, and date; you may not be able to give the equivalent of publisher or page numbers, but should supply URLs. Try to indicate a publishing body (perhaps a professional organization) or the title of the entire site to confirm its reliability. Include whatever extra information to help your reader recognize and find the item—for instance, the type of medium if that might be ambiguous; the sender's address for e-mail messages and online postings; and the date you read a Web page, to indicate the version.

These types of references are now in the process of being standardized. In some cases you may have to improvise by giving section titles or numbers. For up-to-date advice, consult Harnack and Kleppinger's excellent Online!The Internet Guide for Students and Writers. Some of the key chapters of their book are conveniently located online. Visit their FAQ page. And for advice on specific systems, visit their files on MLA, APA or Chicago style. See also the official MLA Web site and the APA's guidelines on electronic sources.

These examples show ways to include the necessary information in various formats (thus the various types of indentation, abbreviation, and line spacing). You may notice that different disciplines use different types of electronic sources. See also the electronic references included on previous screens as examples of the different systems.

NOTE: Don't use the system below for journals that you have accessed online (usually in PDF format) but that are published in print form. Just give the information about the print form according to your chosen system.

e.g.  [film on laser disc, listed by director: note in endnote/footnote system]:

7Hitchcock, Alfred, dir. Suspicion. Perf. Cary Grant and Joan Fontaine. 1941. Laser disc. Turner, 1995.

e.g.  [e-mail message: MLA system, item in Works Cited]:

Sills, Laine. <lsills@mcmaster.ca> "Took that First Step!" Personal e-mail to Margaret Procter. 16 Nov. 2007.

e.g.  [e-mail message: APA system, reference in text] N.B. Don't cite personal communications such as e-mail in the reference list of an APA document, because they cannot be consulted by other readers. Just give basic information in your text, like this:

The most recent experiments in walking also use this method (L. Sills, personal communication, November 16, 2007).

e.g.  [Web document: MLA system, item in Works Cited] N.B. This entry follows the MLA suggestion of giving both the date of publication or last update (31 Jan. 2005) and the date you accessed the web page (15 June 2007).:

Procter, Margaret. "Writing an effective admissions letter." 31 Jan. 2005. Writing at the University of Toronto. 15 June 2007 <http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/admiss.html>

e.g.  [Web document: APA system, item in Reference list]:

Procter, M. Writing an Effective Admissions Letter. Writing at the University of Toronto. Retrieved June 15, 2007 from http://www.utoronto.ca/writing/admiss.html

e.g.  [article in journal published only online: MLA system, item in Works Cited]:

Hill, Robin. "What Sample Size is Enough in Internet Survey Research?" Interpersonal Computing and Technology 6:3 (July 1998). <http://nau.edu/ipct/1998/n3/hill.html>

e.g.  [article in journal published only online: APA system, item in Reference list]:

Hill, R. (July 1998). What sample size is enough in Internet survey research? Interpersonal Computing and Technology, 6:3. Retrieved October 25, 2006 from http://nau.edu/ipct/1009/n3/hill.html

e.g.  [posting to newsgroup, numbered-note system]:

1.  Sills A. <alison.sills@utoronto.ca> Are blue stragglers still in the running? [online posting] <comp.edu.astro.evolution> 13 Nov. 2005.

  Written by Margaret Procter, Coordinator of Writing Support, University of Toronto.

Copyright 2007. All rights reserved

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