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See Guidance on Documantation - 2012

Guidance on Documentation -- 2010
See also: Documenting Digital Souces -- 2010
Craig W. Allin

Documentation in General: Documentation of specific source is required for all direct quotations and specific facts beyond the realm of common knowledge. Except when your reference is to a book or article generally, that documentation must lead the reader to the specific page on which you found the quotation or facts cited. Documentation is important for both ethical and practical reasons. Ethically, documentation gives credit where credit is due. Practically, documentation enhances the credibility of your work by demonstrating its reliance on and relationship with credible sources of information. Furthermore, others may need to follow up your research. Without good documentation, your readers will waste a lot of time.

Approved Style Manuals: Different disciplines and different journals have adopted different standards to meet their specialized needs. For the purposes of this class you are required to use parenthetical citations and a reference list consistent with one of three standards: (1) Chicago/APSA/Turabian [which are interchangeable for all practical purposes], (2) APA, or (3) MLA. If you are already familiar with one, use it. If you are not, choose one likely to meet your future needs and get to know it. Indicate the style of documentation you have chosen to use--Chicago/APSA/Turabian, APA, or MLA--in a parenthetical note following the title of your paper. The official source book (or books) for each of the approved standards is listed below (each in its own approved format). Lucky for us all, there are very good synopses of each of these styles available at no charge on web pages and as PDF files of up to 60 pages each. In the sections below, I comment on the relative merits of the three styles and call your attention to where you can find free versions on the Internet.


University of Chicago. 2003. Chicago manual of style: The essential guide for writers, editors, and publishers, 15th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

The Chicago Manual of Style is the publisher's bible, but it costs $55 and does not contain all the other useful information that is included in Turabian. A free Quick Guide can be found at Chicago Manual of Style Online. Full version requires an annual subscription. Chicago style documentation comes in two forms: [1] parenthetical citations with reference list, and [2] footnotes/endnotes with bibliography. Don't confuse or intermix the two. For the purposes of this class, use only parenthetical citations with reference list.


American Political Science Association Committee on Publications. 2006. The style manual for political science. Washington: American Political Science Association.

The APSA Style Manual is based on the Chicago Manual of Style, and can be treated as interchangeable with it for most purposes. It provides relatively extensive treatment of government documents, but it is short, little used in the real world, unavailable through regular bookstores, and listed here only to acknowledge that there is an APSA standard. What you really want is Turabian below. A summary version of the APSA Style Manual standard can be found at University of Wisconsin Writing Center.


Turabian, Kate L. 2007. A manual for writers of term papers, theses, and dissertations, 7th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

From 1930 to 1958 Kate Turabian was dissertation secretary for the University of Chicago, and her word was law. Like the APSA Style Manual, Turabian is based on the Chicago Manual of Style. The 7th edition of Turabian reflects the most recent 15th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. It contains new chapters on the craft of research. It provides relatively extensive treatment of government documents. A summary version of the Turabian standard can be found on the Georgetown University Library or Bucknell University Library web sites. E-Turabian is a new web-based citation generator based on the 7th edition. The book itself is less than $12 on line and a great investment in your future academic success.


American Psychological Association. (2009.) Publication manual of the American Psychological Association. 6th ed. Washington, DC: American Psychological Association.

A.P.A. is widely used in the social sciences, but it is clumsy to use, and dispenses with information that ought to be preserved like the full name of authors. A very complete on-line version of the APA standard can be found at Purdue University. A 50-page synopsis of the 2009 APA style manual and a 2-page overview of what's new in the 2009 edition are available as free PDFs from the publisher Bedford/St. Martins.


Modern Language Association of America. MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers. 7th ed. New York: Modern Language Association of America, 2009. Print.

MLA is possibly the most widely used standard in the humanities. A very complete on-line version of the 2009 MLA standard can be found at Purdue University. A 60-page synopsis of the 2009 MLA style manual and a 2-page overview of what's new in the 2009 edition are available as free PDFs from the publisher Bedford/St. Martins.


About Citing Government Documents: Among the style manuals listed above, only Chicago/APSA/Turabian offers much help citing government documents, and the online summaries are less helpful than the full paper editions. If you stop and think about it, most government documents are either similar to books or similar to periodicals. If you format the book-like documents as books and the periodical-like documents as periodicals, you'll be, as they say, "close enough for government work." Remember that the general idea is to supply all the information your reader would need to locate the resource that you have used. Arizona State University Library provides a government document citation generator for APA and MLA styles. Introduction to Basic Legal Citation by Peter W. Martin on line at Cornell University's Legal Information Institute can provide more than you would ever want to know about legal citations.

About your Bibliography/Reference List/Works Cited: Taken literally, a list of "Works Cited" (the preferred heading in the M.L.A. and Turabian styles) appended to your paper ought to contain only those sources for which there are actual citations in the text. The headings "Bibliography," "References," and "Reference List" are somewhat more ambiguous. Regardless of the heading you use, include all works upon which you relied whether or not they are formally cited in the text. Do not include works that you located but that proved not to be helpful.

Other Forms of Documentation: The Purdue University Online Writing Lab maintains the most comprehensive set of writing aids on the Internet, including a web page that lists styles of documentation by discipline and provides online links to web sites that explain the use of each.

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