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US History: Citing

Why cite?

Citing your sources is an important part of the scholarly writing process. Citations include the key elements that allow your sources to be identified and located - author, title, date, etc. The actual format of the citation depends on the resource type as well as the documentation style you are using.

There are several reasons to cite:

  • Give proper credit to the ideas, words, and works of others you use in your research
  • Allow readers to find your sources - so they can determine if they are reliable, better evaluate your argument, and locate additional information
  • Avoid plagiarism

Citation styles for history

Historians generally use the Chicago Manual of Style or its derivative, A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (commonly known as Turabian, after its author). Though not identical, the two styles are very similar.

Always check with your instructor to find out which citation style they want you to use.

The Chicago/Turabian style offers two systems:
1) notes and bibliography (humanities style)
2) author-date

Historians prefer the humanities style because it accomModates a wide variety of sources. Documentation is presented by notes (either footnotes or endnotes) and a bibliography.

Copies of these manuals are also available at the Research Support Desk on Library North 2.

Basics of Turabian


  • After using a source, put a superscript number at the end of your sentence:

Marius notes that "history and writing are inseparable."3

  • Cite the source in a correspondingly numbered note at the end of the page (footnote) or at the end of your paper (endnote):

3. Richard Marius. A Short Guide to Writing about History, 3rd ed. (New York: Longman, 1999), 5.

  • If you use this source again, subsequent notes are shorter:

9. Marius, 105.

  • In your bibliography, list the source alphabetically according to the author's last name:

Marius, Richard. A Short Guide to Writing about History, 3rd ed. New York: Longman, 1999.


Turabian examples

Note format Bibliography format
Book (one author)
Jenny L. Presnell. The Information-Literate Historian: A Guide to Research for History Students (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 98.
Presnell, Jenny L. The Information-Literate Historian: A Guide to Research for History Students. New York: Oxford University Press, 2007.
Article in a print journal Jonathan Dewald, "Crisis, Chronology, and the Shape of European Social History," American Historical Review 113 no. 4 (October 2008): 1037.
Dewald, Jonathan. "Crisis, Chronology, and the Shape of European Social History." American Historical Review 113 no. 4 (October 2008): 1031-1052.
Article online Emily Chao, "Dangerous Work: Women in Traffic," Modern China 28 no. 4 (October 2002): 73, (accessed June 14, 2008).
Chao, Emily. "Dangerous Work: Women in Traffic." Modern China 28 no. 4 (October 2002): 71-107. (accessed June 14, 2008).


Be aware of small differences across similar formats. For example:

  • Book citations vary slightly for edited collections, multiple authors, translations, or new editions.
  • Articles have subtle differences if they are newspapers, weekly magazines, or scholarly journals.


Online Help

Chicago Manual of Style


Chicago Manual of Style Online - the Quick Guide is very useful for getting started.

Chicago: In-Text Citations (Notes and Bibliography System): University of North Carolina Library

The OWL: Chicago Manual of Style: Purdue University




Turabian Quick Guide: University of Chicago Press

Chicago/Turabian Documentation: University of Wisconsin - Madison Writing Center

Turabian Citation Guide: Ohio State University

Subject Guide

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Lauren Bellard
Library South
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Save time


Use software to manage your sources - download citations from library databases; export the bibliography into your paper.

EndNote is a free download for GSU students, faculty and staff.


Zotero was developed by historians to support historical and related research. It is a free Firefox plugin.
Zotero guide

Features comparison chart: Zotero, Endote and others

Using another style?

Using APA or MLA?

Get help on our general citation guide.