A Guide to Citations for Historic Bloggers.

It has been suggested recently that historic blogs should include proper citations of their research. The idea is to encourage good research techniques on the part of the writers, while also reassuring historic sites and museums that we writers respect their copyrighted property, be it a book, artifact or image.

While this is a great suggestion, which any of my regular readers will notice I've been practicing for several years, there is one glaring problem with the suggestion; the majority of bloggers don't have much, if any experience with proper citations! Frankly, unless you've spent years writing historic research or have been subjected to an anal retentive professor, most of us don't use citations in our daily lives. Adding to the problem are the sheer number of citation styles, from the more common Modern Language Association (MLA), American Physiological Association (APP), and Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) systems, to the specialized and obscure Bluebook style used in Law, Modern Humanities Research Association (MHRA) common in the United Kingdom, and the Vancouver System suggested for scientific and mathematical research. You could spend nearly as much time deciding how to cite your sources as you did finding them in the first place. It's enough to make even a dedicated researcher run for the hills!

As a way to aid my other blogging friends and encourage more writers to share references, I offer this simple citation guide specifically geared towards historic bloggers. This guide follows Chicago Manual of Style's Author-Date system, since this is both an easy system to use and remember while not overwhelming the typically shorter articles found on historic blogs. The information included within the text also encourages readers to notice the reference and increases the spreading of these important details.

A Guide to Proper Citations for Historic Bloggers.

There are two parts to a proper citation using Author-Date style, the shorter in text portion and the bibliography or works cited at the end of the article.

Quotations and The In Text Citation

Following any quotation within the text of your post include the author, editor or artists last name, the year of publication or creation and the page number in parenthesis. “This is the easy part” (Black, 2011) of in text citations. Quotations should be worked into the text of the sentence as much as possible rather than left free floating. The exception to this is longer quotations which comprise several sentences or even a full paragraph. While they too can be incorporated into the text, it is often easier to separate them from the main body as a block quote. Most citation styles have suggestions for how and when to use block quotations based on number of words or lines.

“a hundred words or more – or at least eight lines – are set off as a block quotation.” (Chicago Manual of Style, 2003, 447)

Whether to use block quotations in a blog entry is really a personal choice. Ultimately, it is the effect of the quotation and how the information is presented to the readers that matters more than any arbitrary rule. When in doubt, develop your own style and maintain that pattern through out all blog posts. This makes reading an article easy to follow and can even make writing them easier.

The Bibliography or Works Cited

At the end of any post include the full reference for each quotation in the appropriate format for the type of work being referenced. References should be listed in alphabetical order, however in shorter blog posts order of inclusion can also be acceptable. This is where things get a little tricky, especially considering the types of objects and information being referenced by most historic bloggers. Following are a few of the most common citations and variations specifically geared to the types of objects and media frequently used in blogs.

Book with one or more authors or editors:
Last name, First name of first author or editor, First Name, Last name of subsequent authors or editors. Year. “Chapter of the Book if used”, Book Title in italics. City of Publication: Name of Publisher. Web link if published electronically.

Article from Magazines, Newspapers or Journals:
Last name, First name of first author, First Name, Last name of subsequent authors. Year. “Title of Article”, Magazine or Journal Title in italics, date of magazine or publication for newspapers, edition number for journals or magazines if available: all pages of the article referenced. Web link if published electronically.

Last Name, First Name of websites author or Website title or Owner of website. “Title of web page,” Link to site (date accessed, optional).

Painting or image especially those found in an online source:
Last Name, First Name of artist. Title of Art Work in italics, medium, date of piece. (Name of institution where piece is housed, city where housed). Link to where the image was found.

Item in a Museum or Historic Collection especially those from online sources:
I have not been able to find any information on how to document an extant example from a museum collection. The following is a suggested format based on the method used for paintings and other artistic pieces. However, if anyone knows the proper way to cite an extant piece in Chicago style, please let me know and I will update this guide.

Last Name, First Name of artist or creator if available. Title or description of piece in italics, medium, date of piece. (Name of institution where piece is housed, city where housed). Link to where the object was found.

Paper, speech or presentation given at a conference or event:
Last Name, First Name of presenter or speaker. Year presented. “Title of presentation, speech or paper.” Paper presented at the Name of organization or event, City, state presentation was given, Month and date of presentation.

** Dictionaries are cited like books with authors or editors.
** Online database, such as The Old Bailey, are best cited as websites, including a link to the database main page.
** Google books are cited like books, with a link to the Google books page.
** Hyperlinks are nice but do not stay with an article if it is copied into another form. To maintain the connection between information and references, it's best to use written citations with links as a bonus.

I hope this quick guide will help other historic bloggers to use proper citations in their entries and encourage the continued sharing of resources, research and references. While not exhaustive, most of the basics have been covered and of course, if anyone wants to read more on proper citations, you can always look up all the references in the works cited.

Works cited:

"BibMe: Fast & Easy Bibliography Maker - MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian - Free." BibMe: Fast & Easy Bibliography Maker - MLA, APA, Chicago, Turabian - Free. http://www.bibme.org/

Bonnor, Thomas.
Junius. Etching, 1770. (Lewis Walpole Library, New Haven, Connecticut). http://images.library.yale.edu/walpoleweb/oneitem.asp?imageId=lwlpr02960

"Purdue OWL: Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition ." Welcome to the Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL). http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/01/

"The Chicago Manual of Style Online: Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide." The Chicago Manual of Style Online. http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html