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Subject Guide for history

Why Cite Sources?

Citing sources is a way to credit the sources you use to inform your academic work.This of it as a way to engage in a larger conversation with those interested in your research are. Citation helps you to support your own ideas with evidence and previous research and to make connections between your ideas and those of others.  Use clear references and citations to indicate from whom the ideas come.

Avoid inserting source information without adding your own analysis; instead include your own voice and your own analysis and ideas. You will likely want to include sources which are are in agreement AND in disagreement with your own views. This way you can recognize and respond to multiple perspectives on the given issue. In doing so, you can make your own argument stronger.

Citation Style Guides

When you use sources to think and write about a topic, you will almost always need to cite those sources following a specific citation style. Below are guides for the most common citation styles. The most common citation style used in history is Chicago style. Sometimes you may also be asked to use MLA style (from the Modern Language Association).

Chicago Style, 17th edition

Modern Language Association (MLA) Style, 9th edition

The 9th edition recently replaced the 8th edition. There are minor changes between the 8th and 9th editions.

More Resources

Common Forms of Citation

In-text citations

In-text citations are included in the main body of a text. They usually appear in the following contexts:

  • Direct Quote: Someone else's exact words, placed in quotation marks and followed by a parenthetical citation.
  • Paraphrase: Someone else's ideas explained in your own words, followed by a parenthetical citation. 
  • Summary: Similar to a paraphrase, but used to give an overview of many ideas (explained in your own words), followed by a parenthetical citation.

For more detailed information, please see the Purdue Online Writing Lab on Quoting, Paraphrasing, and Summarizing

References list

A reference list (sometimes called a bibliography or works cited page) appears at the end of a written text. It includes the full citations for all referenced sources.

Citation Chaining

One of the best ways to find more sources is through citation chaining. With citation chaining, you find other sources that an original source has referenced. These citations create a "web" of related sources. Learn more from this Citation Chaining Guide or from this Citation Chaining tutorial.

Integrating Sources into Writing

Using the components below will help you integrate sources into your writing.

  • Introductory phrase to the source material: More about Signal Phrases or Introductory Phrases
  • Source material: A direct quote, paraphrase, or summary with proper citation
  • Analysis of source material: After presenting the source material explain, analyze it, and relate it to your own ideas. (This is crucial, and many people forget to do it!)

Contact the RU Writing Center for more in-depth help with integrating sources.

Citation Software

Citation management software can help you manage your sources and cite while writing. RU students, faculty, and staff have access to several citation management programs.