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Citation systems

By Steve Draper,   Department of Psychology,   University of Glasgow.


  • Xref to here from crs.html
  • fix secondary refs issues in a) crs.html; b) L3 handbook?
  • DOI: start adding to my bibs; create vi macros for this, both for link and btn UIDs

  • Do table
  • Do citation error lit. section.

    A: The family of citation systems

    Occasionally if I stumble across a citation format that is completely new to me, I feel like an alien from another academic planet. There is a great wikiP page on citation systems, summarising briefly the range in use; and giving me some sense of where the bit I'm familiar with fits into a full landscape of alternative systems. The only thing lacking is a diagram to sum the family up, and that is the main purpose I'm attempting in this section. For all else, read the wikiP entry.

    The main source of strangeness to students is the short form of reference in the text e.g. numbers for footnotes, or author-date. Least strange are the details of the formats of the long citations in reference lists; and only some trouble with knowing whereabouts to find that long information. Thus the table here focusses primarily on the variations in short forms (or "keys"). I'll just note here that "Vancouver style" and "Harvard style" are not maintained, exact referencing systems, but generic families of styles named partly to give historical credit. Other styles mentioned here are fully specified ones. Further explanations are given, if you care, below the main table.

    Table 1.   Families of citation systems.
    Organised by a) key type; b) Target location and target sort order
    Informative keys Uninformative keys No keys
    Parenthetical Vancouver
    [keys are sequential numbers]
    [Keys are non-alphanumeric symbols]
    Key abbreviates Author-date Harvard
    = Author-date
    e.g. Smith (1933)
    e.g. (Austen Persuasion)
    IEEE / eng.
    no footnotes, all in the bib.
    "... word [3]"
    Citations are wholly in-line
    e.g. [SM33]
    Ex.7 Case 1
    APA and others
    Ex.3 Case 2
    Ex.N Case 3
    Classical: ≈ ? title only
    E.g. "Republic, V, 473c"
    Ex.N Case 4
    No bib; strong abbreviation
    Ex.N Case 5
    Reference list sorted by Author
    Ex.N Case 6
    Reference list sorted by number
    Ex.2,5 Case 7
    Footnote and bib.
    Footnote with keys, long form reference list; author-title keys between them
    Ex.N Case 8
    Long footnote, short footnotes refer back to earlier note.
    e.g. "op.cit", "ibid"
    Ex.N Case 9
    Footnotes on page only; no bib. Phil.?
    Ex.N Case 10
    Footnotes with symbolic keys
    e.g.   * † ¶
    Ex.N Case 11
    Bluebook for law court documents
    Ex.8 Case 12
    2 2 2 ? 1 2 2 3 3 2 2 1 Number of places
    bib bib bib ? main text bib bib bib footnote footnote footnote main text Fullest info in which place
    1 1 1 1 0 1 1 2 2 1 1 0 Number of key systems
    no yes yes yes - yes yes yes yes yes yes - Ref list sorted by key
    author author author author - author number author - - - - Ref list sorted by:

    Table 4.   Abbreviations
    Type Abbrev. % Expansion
    None 100
    Moderate Smith 36 Jonas F. Smith
    Substantial Am.j.Phys 33 American journal of physics
    Matt 11 The gospel according to St. Matthew
    Amoen. acad. 1. p.278 9 Linnæus, C. 1749. Amoenitates academicæ seu dissertationes variæ physicæ, medicæ botanicæ antehac seorsim editæ nunc collectæ et auctæ cum tabulis æneis. [Vol. 1]. - pp. [1-2], 1-563, Tab. I-XVII [= 1-17]. Holmiæ, Lipsiæ. (Kiesewetter).
    Radical [CFN06] 10 Federico Camia, Luiz Renato G. Fontes, and Charles M. Newman, (2006)
    Gone [5] 0 Not an abbreviation, just a symbol (full citation information in another place)

    Table 99.  caption

    See also: from this paper

    Expansions, explanations, further notes on citation systems

    I shall refer to as "documents" the pieces of writing using citation systems e.g. books, articles in journals. a.k.a. "paper", "article" ...

    Explain my dismissal or alt. treatment of Williams' implicit/explicit, and his direct/indirect.

    The attributes of citation systems expressed in the bottom rows of table 1

    1. Number of places

    There are three kinds of place within a document where citation information may appear:
    1. In the main text (in-line). ("Main text")
    2. On the same page: ("Other text on page")
      1. In a footnote
      2. In a marginal note
    3. At the end
      1. List of references ("bib").
      2. List of end notes

    (N.B. of course, information may also be held outside the document e.g. in refrence works sometimes necessary to supplement what the document holds explicitly.)

    2. Which place is the fullest citation information held in?

    I.e. are the fullest details in the bib, a footnote, or in the main text?

    3. Number of systems of keys

    Unless the citation information is all in one place, then there is some short form or "key" that refers to the entry in another place that holds the corresponding information. I.e. key → destination system. E.g. "Smith (1933)" refers to the entry in the reference list of references, sorted by author, and beginning "Smith,A.B. (1933)".

    If more than 2 places are involved, then there must be more than one system of keys involved in citation in the same document.

    (If, as is fairly common, there is more than one kind of information with a key system being used, then also there will be more than one system of keys involved in citation in the same document e.g. footnotes for author affiliation, and author-date for citations. However most of this page is only concerned with citation systems.)

    4. The list of references is sorted first by what?

    Lists of references must be sorted somehow, but by which (primarily)?

    5. Level of abbreviation in the (first) key

    Various degrees of abbreviation may be found, as shown in table 4. The most extreme is where there is now no trace of the original meaningful material, just an arbitrary symbol or number containing no information about what is cited, only where to find it ("gone").

    6. Parenthetical material interacting with citation information?: yes/no.



  • The number of places with citation information: in-line; on the page in a note (marginal or footnote); bib, end list or notes.
  • Where is the fullest information: in: in-line, bib, note
  • Number of key → destination systems (in each document). Usually one; sometimes two.
  • The reference list (bib) sorted by: {author, chronologically (by date), title, numerical tag }
  • Where is the fullest information: in: in-line, bib, note
  • Parenthetical material interacting with citation information?: yes/no.
  • level of abbreviation in the key: {none, moderate, substantial, radical }

    Some framing information for table 1

    There are four places citation information may be placed: Keys are what I call the short formats for linking a bit of information in one of those places to the corresponding bit in another of them. In most cases there are two places used in a system; but there are cases of one and of three places used together.

    If footnotes and a bib are used then there could be two types of key used: in-text → footnote, and footnote → bib.

    Presupposed knowledge, implicit referencing

    In citations, some knowledge may be presupposed and so not given anywhere in the document itself. One case is where citation standards use abbreviations of journal names e.g. "Am. J. Phys" for "American Journal of Physics" in the "long" format in the reference lists. [??Check this; give e.g.s.]

    Another case is that many disciplines presuppose some common cases and often do not provide a citation. E.g. bible scholars will cite "Exodus 5:3" and not mention that this is part of the bible, and not the name of the Leon Uris novel; physicists will discuss special relativity and not cite Einstein; biologists will discuss evolution but not cite Darwin's Origin of the species.


  • None.
  • Slightly e.g. author-date
  • Substantial e.g. Linnaeus, "ProcRoySoc" / "JsocPsy"
  • Radical: AB69


    Linnaeus introduced a citation style, which was used by others for a while but is now disused, in which there was no reference list (bibliography) given; but strongly abbreviated references only were given in the text.

  • Chin. Lagerstr. 42. f. 3
  • Exod. XX:4
  • Amoen. acad. 1. p.278 => Linnæus, C. 1749. Amoenitates academicæ seu dissertationes variæ physicæ, medicæ botanicæ antehac seorsim editæ nunc collectæ et auctæ cum tabulis æneis. [Vol. 1]. - pp. [1-2], 1-563, Tab. I-XVII [= 1-17]. Holmiæ, Lipsiæ. (Kiesewetter).
  • Gron. lap. => Gronovius, J. F. 1740. Index supellectilis lapideæ, quam collegit Johannes Fredericus Gronovius. - pp. [1], 1-29. Lugduni Batavorum.
  • Klein. dub. => Klein, J. T. 1743. Summa dubiorum circa classes qvadrupedum et amphibiorum in celebris domini Caroli Linnæi systemate naturæ: sive naturalis qvadrupedum historiæ promovendæ prodromus cum præludio de crustatis. Adjecti discursus: I. De ruminantibus. II. De periodo vitæ humanæ collato cum brutis. - pp. [1-2], 1-50, [1-2]. Lipsiæ. (Gleditsch).

    "In his work, Linnæus referred to about 400 different older zoological works and used cryptic abbreviations. The information contained in these older works is part of many species taxa descriptions. In 2002, when we started working, there was no literature list (the basic work of zoological taxonomy was published without any list of references). We (the AnimalBase project team) have tried to detect the publications behind the Linnean abbreviations. In some cases Linnæus seemed to have consulted different editions published in different years, but with most cited works it is clear what was meant." from source page.

    Cases (used in tables above)

  • Case 1: AMS = American Mathematical Society. Bib and keys of form "[AB13]"
  • Case 2: APA = American psychological Association
  • Case 3: MLA = Modern Languages Association
  • Case 4: Classical Classical: ≈ ? title only
    E.g. "Plato discussed the principle of the philosopher-king Republic, V, 473c"
    No author, and universal cross-edition numbering of pages, paragraphs etc. for a given classical author.
  • Case 5: Linnaeus
  • Case 6: Ieee, alpha sorted list
  • Case 7: AMA = American Medical Association, nmb sorted list
  • Case 8: footnote
  • Case 9: opcit footnotes
  • Case 10: no bib, footnotes only
  • Case 11: symbols
  • Case 12: In legal writing for US court documents, as opposed to academic law articles, citations (of precedents in other cases) are "direct" i.e. given in full in-line, in the main body of text. Bluebook refers to the USA system: Bluebook.

    Example articles (used in tables above)

  • Ex.1 doi:10.1108/00220411111183564 Williams article on citation in biosciences. Author-date citing.
  • Ex.2 DNA paper by Watson & Crick, 1953. Endnotes (footnote numbers).
  • Ex.3 Botany article reporting a new species of violet. Author-date.
  • Ex.4 BMJ: medical citing by footnotes
  • Ex.5 BMJ: medical citing by footnotes: public mental health
  • Ex.6 Chernin on Harvard citation system BMJ: medical citing by footnotes: public mental health
  • Ex.7 AMS Maths research paper. e.g. [Aiz96], [BM10], [GPS10a].
  • Ex.8 Example of in-line full citation in (USA) legal documents.
  • Ex.9 A sample page from Linnaeus using his highly abbreviated in-line citations. A list of many of Linnaeus' highly abbreviated in-line citations, with full expansions worked out by contemporary scholars. (The distinctive version of case 5, Linnaeus' citation method, is that no bibilography with full citations was given in the document(s).)
    Check and pick a better sample page: one that has definite ref.s on.
  • Ex.10 ISIS: xx
  • Ex.11 Philosophical Issues: xx
  • Ex.12 College English: xx
  • Ex.13 Arethusa: xx
  • Ex.14 PLATO: xx
  • Ex.15 GermanHistory: xx
  • Ex.16 PMLA: xx
  • Ex.17 APA: Friston (2012).

    Some outer framing points

    Parenthetical information

    It is a general aspect of writing that some parts of it are much more important than others, and authors spend considerable effort in both sorting that out for themselves, and signalling to their readers which are which. However in general, they decide on what most readers will want to see, and that defines what will be the main body of their article. But then many authors (but not others; in many disciplines, but not all) have some extra details which they feel a minority of their readers would like to see. Where to put this? Various common mechanisms are: a clause, sentence, or more in parentheses; appendices; footnotes; "supplementary materials" in some online journals. Often these are bigger than the "main" article: the journal "Science" is a case in point of the last of these. In book publishing, the second?? edition to Oliver Sacks' "Awakenings"?? has a preface where the author confesses that his publisher had pointed out that his footnotes had grown so large that half the text was now in footnotes: shouldn't he move it into the main text?

    Parenthetical information needs to be linked to its parent text by some system of keys, broadly similar to citation systems.

    Although this web page is about citation notations, there is sometimes major overlap between the mechanism for that and the mechanism for another need: what I will call "parenthetical information". The classic case is in History, where a single system of footnotes carries both citation of sources and many other comments.

    In fact many style standards use footnotes to cover copyright notices, Authors' affiliations, whom to direct correspondence to, etc.; and a separate citation system that doesn't use footnotes; see next subsection.

    There are many xx

    Multiple systems of keys in one article

    Two major reasons for having multiple key systems in a single article are: a) Having one for parenthetical information e.g. author addresses, and another for citations. b) Having a 3-place citation system, and different key types for 1 → 2, and 2 → 3.

    Modern style standards often cover multiple citation methods

    So you can't just say "APA" style and know that it requires just one key method.

    B: False citations: the literature on citation errors


    Why cite?

    1. To point your readers to sources that may be useful to them.
    2. To allow your readers to check your sources, if there are questions.
    3. To show your readers that you have done your research.
    4. To give credit to others for work they have done.
    Even if the demand for citing is artificially created, it is nevertheless useful and used. Doing it helps other students, scholars, and researchers.


    C: My odd notes on APA style

  • DOIs should be give as last thing in a citation e.g. "doi:10.1016/j.jad.2012.11.026" (and w/w/o a live link).

  • APA says: no secondary sources: inline you mention the secondary, but only list the one you got e.g. "Fred's study (as cited in Smith, 2005) .."

  • Can add in bib:
    "(Original work written 1930-1934)"?
    "(Original work published 1920)" appended to bib citation

  • "(Laplace, 1814/1951, p. 148)"

  • Laplace, P. S. (1951). A philosophical essay on probabilities (F. W. Truscott & F. L. Emory, Trans.). New York, NY: Dover. (Original work published 1814).

  • Ed means editor; ed. means edition
  • Trans. pp. Vol. No. Pt.; use arabic nmbs even if vol was in Roman.
  • Minimal capitalisation in titles: first char, start of subtitle, proper names only.
  • Spaces before, after, and between initials. E.g. "S. W. Draper" & "Draper, S. W. ".
  • Smith (1999) or Smith [ca. 1999] if only moderately certain.
  • Full-stop after: title; auth+date+(eds.); journal+vol+pp // publisher.
  • Publisher names: as short as possible e.g. "Erlbaum" but "Harvard University Press".
  • Place, zip code: "Cambridge MA" if you are publishing in USA, else what your journal likes locally. [APA section 6.30 p.187]
  • Parens around: date; Not-publisher; Ch. and pp for a ch in a book; Not-pp,ch for journals.
  • Sq. brackets seem to be for a) describing something non-std [Brochure] [Review of ....] [Editorial]; b) Approx info e.g. [ca. 1989] for an estimated date. c) In general, used as parens inside parens.

  • Always give doi if available. Append to end of ref.; after full-stop, with no full-stop of its own. " doi:10.3456/2345.45.245"
  • "Retrieved from http:e/t/c" as last element (no period).
  • In J.Strath (Ed. & trans.),
  • title [Editorial] if no author

    Z: References


    APA (2010) Publication manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.). (Washington: APA) [Glasgow University library: GUL5; psychol B235 AME3]

    wikiP page on citation systems

    Lipson,C. (2011) Cite right: A quick guide to citation styles — MLA, APA, Chicago, the sciences, professions, and more (2nd ed.). (Chicago: University of Chicago press). [Glasgow University library: GUL9; GenLit C300.F56 LIP]

    Williams,R.B. (2011) "Citation systems in the biosciences: A history, classification and descriptive terminology" Journal of documentation vol.67 no.6 pp.995-1014 URL     doi:10.1108/00220411111183564

    Citation error literature

    Bugeja, Michael and Daniela V. Dimitrova. Vanishing Act: The Erosion of Online Footnotes and Implications for Scholarship in the Digital Age. Duluth, Minnesota: Litwin Books (2010)

    Raymond Hubbard and J. Scott Armstrong (1994). "Replications and Extensions in Marketing: Rarely Published But Quite Contrary". International Journal of Research in Marketing 11 (3): 233-248. doi:10.1016/0167-8116(94)90003-5.

    Malcolm Wright and J. Scott Armstrong (2008). "The Ombudsman: Verification of Citations: Fawlty Towers of Knowledge?". Interfaces (INFORMS) 38 (2): 125-139. doi:10.1287/inte.1070.0317.

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