Documenting Your History Paper

Prof. Martha Carlin
Department of History
University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
copyright 2014, all rights reserved

You must clearly and accurately identify all your sources of information. This is your responsibility, so do not skimp on including important information, and do not make the reader do the work of deciphering confusing citations.

What follows below is a very brief description of how to document papers with Notes and Bibliography. For fuller details, see my “Guidelines for Writing Papers” and other online documentation guides available on my home page .

Beware of plagiarism. Presenting someone else’s work as if it were your own – including factual information, phrasing, and ideas — is plagiarism. Plagiarism can also include fabricating sources, or otherwise deliberately misrepresenting the sources of your information. The penalty for plagiarism is an “F” or worse (it can include expulsion from the university). You must fully and accurately document all information and ideas, as well as direct quotations, that you take from other sources.


The format of endnotes and footnotes is identical. Footnotes are placed at the foot of the page to which they refer. Endnotes are placed at the end of the paper, on a separate page headed NOTES, just ahead of the BIBLIOGRAPHY.

Use a note to tell the reader where you found your information. On average, you should have approximately one note per paragraph. Assign each note its own number, in strict numerical sequence, beginning with 1. Do not re-use note numbers. Note numbers should be superscript, in Arabic numerals, and should be placed outside any punctuation, typically at the end of a sentence or paragraph.

If you are citing a source that can occur in a variety of editions (often a primary or literary source, such as a chronicle, the Bible, or a poem), always include a reference to some standard internal division (e.g., chapter or line numbers), as well as to the page numbers in the edition that you use. That way, your reader can find the same text in any edition, including an online edition.


A. Books (use the following format in your first citation of each book):

Firstname Surname, Book Title (City: Press, date of publication), page number(s).


Frances and Joseph Gies, Marriage and the Family in the Middle Ages (New York: Harper and Row, 1987), 25.

If you are using a revised edition or a later edition of a book, always specify this, since both the content and the pagination will differ from those of prior editions. If your book has been reprinted, but the edition has not changed, be sure to include the original city, press, and date, and the reprint city and press (if either has changed) and reprint date. That tells your reader when the book was actually written.


Reay Tannahill, Food in History (New York: Stein and Day, 1973; rev. edn, Three Rivers Press, 1988), 16-17, 23.

Joseph and Frances Gies, Life in a Medieval City (New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1974; rpt Harper and Row, 1979), 10.

In subsequent citations of the same work, abbreviate the citation.


Tannahill, Food in History, 18-23.

B. If you cite multiple works by the same author, you must differentiate them for the reader by including a short form of the title. To cite multiple sources in a single note, separate the sources with semicolons.


Gies and Gies, Life in a Medieval City, p. 10; Gies and Gies, Marriage and the Family, 25-26.

C. Journal articles and chapters in edited books (use in first citation of each):

Author’s Firstname Surname, “Article Title,” Journal Title, volume number (year of publication): page number(s).


Author’s Firstname Surname, “Chapter Title,” in Book Title, ed. Editor’s Firstname Surname (City: Press, date of publication), page number(s).


Kathy L. Pearson, “Nutrition and the Early-Medieval Diet,” Speculum, 72 (1997): 1-32.

Matthew Bennett, “The Medieval Warhorse Reconsidered,” in Medieval Knighthood, V. Papers from the Sixth Strawberry Hill Conference, 1994, ed. Stephen Church and Ruth Harvey (Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1995), 19-40.

In subsequent citations, abbreviate the citation. Example:

Bennett, 21; Pearson, 3-15.

D. Internet sources (use in first citation of each):

If this is a source taken from a printed work, use exactly the same format as above, followed by the full internet address, and, in square brackets ([]), the date when you saw the source. (The latter is important because websites can disappear.) If your online source is not taken from a printed work, then be sure to make the nature of the source or site clear to your reader. Also, if you are citing a large internet source or site, be sure to identify the relevant sections or portions for your reader. Since websites do not have page numbers, be sure to cite some clear division within the text, or some other clear landmark within the site.


Einhard, Life of Charlemagne, trans. Samuel Epes Turner (New York: Harper and Brothers, 1880), Chap.
22, “Personal Appearance,” accessed 18 December 2006,

Master James of St. George, letter concerning building progress at Beaumaris Castle, 1296, accessed
18 December 2006,

Sutton Hoo helmet, British Museum, photograph of front, accessed 18 December 2006,

Abbreviate subsequent citations of an online source, making sure that the reference remains clear to the

reader. A simple way to do this is to refer the reader to the full citation in a previous note.


Einhard, Life of Charlemagne (as in n. 2, above), Chap. 24, “Habits.”

St. George, letter concerning Beaumaris Castle (as in n. 3, above), second photograph.


You must provide the same full information in Bibliography entries that you did in the first note citation of each source,
but the format is different. Bibliography citations are written in short phrases separated by periods. Since
Bibliography entries are alphabetized (not numbered), invert the name of the author or editor to put the surname first.
(If there is more than one author or editor, only invert the name of the first author or editor.) Use the following formats:

Surname, Firstname. Book Title. City: Press, date of publication, page number(s) (if relevant).


Surname, Firstname. “Article Title.” Journal Title, volume number (date of publication): page number(s).



Bennett, Matthew. “The Medieval Warhorse Reconsidered.” In Medieval Knighthood, V. Papers from the Sixth Strawberry Hill Conference, 1994. Ed. Stephen Church and Ruth Harvey. Woodbridge, Suffolk: Boydell Press, 1995, 19-40.

Einhard. Life of Charlemagne. Trans. Samuel Epes Turner. New York: Harper and Brothers, 1880, Chap. 22, “Personal Appearance.” Accessed 18 December 2006.

Gies, Joseph, and Frances Gies. Life in a Medieval City. New York: Thomas Y. Crowell, 1974; rpt Harper and Row, 1979.

Pearson, Kathy L. “Nutrition and the Early-Medieval Diet.” Speculum, 72 (1997): 1-32.

St. George, Master James of. Letter concerning building progress at Beaumaris Castle, 1296. Accesssed 18 December 2006.

Sutton Hoo helmet (British Museum), photograph of front. Accessed 13 August 2013.