Documenting Sources for a Research Paper

There are many different ways to document sources for a research paper. Historians use the Chicago Style, which is in its 16th edition; but the 15th edition is still widely used.

In the Chicago Style, there are three main groups of documentation: footnotes, in text citations, and bibliography. Additionally, each type of source a book, a journal article, a newspaper article, or a website has a different style of formatting within each of the above groups.


Footnotes go at the end of each page of your paper. Each time a source is referred to a footnote is inserted at the end of the sentence or at the end of the paragraph. It is usually a number. The same number is inserted at the bottom of the page, and that is where the source information is placed. As shown in the example below.

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The marks at the end of each line and between each word are just a visual guide provided by Microsoft Word and can be turned on or off. They do not show up when the document is printed.

Microsoft Word has made this as easy as pushing a button.

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Click the References tab on the Ribbon, then click insert footnote. That button places a number wherever your cursor happens to be; it also places the identical number at the bottom of the page. Word also places the cursor at the bottom of the page right after the number. It's the best practice to insert your source documentation during the writing process.

Types of Sources


The citation for a book is as follows.

Author's Name, Title of the Book (Place of Publication: Publishing Company, Year Published ), page number.

The source in the above example would look like this:

William L. Shirer, Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany (New York: Simon & Schuster, 1960), 90.

Remember the footnote must be indented half an inch.

If the book has more than one author then they are listed in alphabetical order by last name.

Thomas Bailey, Lizabeth Cohen, David M. Kennedy, and Mel Piehl. The Brief American Pageant: A History of the Republic Sixth Edition. (New York: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2004), 90.

Journal Articles

Academic journals such as the American Historical Review and The Review of Politics as well as others can be good sources of information for your research paper.

The citation for a journal article is as follows.

Author's Name, "Article Title," Journal Name, issue number.volume number (year): page number.

In the above format a journal source would look like this:

Klaus Epstein, “Shirer's History of Nazi Germany,” The Review of Politics, 23.2 (1961): 230.

Remember the footnote must be indented half an inch.


Newspapers such as the New York Times are excellent primary sources. The New York Times has past issues online and on microfilm at many libraries.

The citation for a newspaper is as follows.

Article with author's name listed.

Author's Name, "Title of Article," Name of Newspaper (Place of Publication), Date.

H.R. Trevor-Roper, “Light on Our Century's Darkest Night,” New York Times (New York, NY), October 16, 1960.

Article without an author listed

"Title of Article," Name of Newspaper (Place of Publication), Date.

“3 Receive National Book Awards for 1960: Jarrell, Richter and Shirer Get $1,000 Annual Prizes,” New York Times (New York, NY), March 15, 1961.

Remember the footnote must be indented half an inch.


As more information is presented in electronic format evaluation of websites has become an important part of the research process.

The citation for a website is as follows.

Author's Name, "Title of Page," Name of Website, URL (Date accessed).

Peter Gallagher, "The Similarities and Differences Between APA Style and Chicago Manual of Style," Lousy Writer, (accessed June 26, 2014).

If the author of the content cannot be determined, then, in almost all cases, the information should not be used. However, if after asking your instructor and/or Librarian; the content appears to be accurate and useful it is cited as follows.

"Ask a Librarian: What is the difference between Bluebook style and APA style?," American Public University System Library, (accessed June 26, 2014).

In Text Citations

In text citations can be used instead of footnotes. It is up to your instructor. If your instructor does not specify either footnotes or in text citations, then ask. In text citations go at the end of the sentence or paragraph where the piece of information is quoted or paraphrased. An in text citation is formatted as follows.

(Author's Last Name Year of Publication, page numbers).

As in the example below:

My relations with General Short, which were once the subject of considerable confusion in the public mind, have now been clarified by exhaustive investigations. I need not labor it. It has been established that our official and social relations were friendly, that we frequently conferred on official matters of common interest and invariably did so when either of us received messages which had any bearing on the development of the United States-Japanese situation, or on our several plans in preparing for war (Kimmel 1955, 9—10).

Complete information about the source is given in the bibliography and would look like this for the above example:

Kimmel, Husband E. Admiral Kimmel's Story. Chicago: Henry Regnegry Company, 1955.

For Publications where no author is listed such as newspaper articles the name of the newspaper and year of publication are used.

(New York Times 2002).

The bibliography entry would look like this:

New York Times, “In Texas, Ad Heats Up Race for Governor,” July 30, 2002.

For websites with no author given the owner of the website is used instead.

(American Public University System Library)

The bibliography entry would look like this:

American Public University System Library. "Ask a Librarian: What is the difference between Bluebook style and APA style?"


A bibliography is an alphabetical list of sources by the author's last name, which is placed at the end of a research paper.

If an entry is more than one line, then the second line must be indented a half an inch. As in the example below.

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