Documenting Electronic Sources

For every source in your paper, you must provide complete bibliographical information so your reader will know where you got the information. This allows your readers to find the sources in order to evaluate your interpretation of them or to read more extensively from them to gain a deeper understanding of the topic. There are numerous ways to document sources, and most academic disciplines have their own preferred methods and style manuals to guide the way. While each historian is different and opinions are in a constant state of flux, the most widely used style manual for historians continues to be the Chicago Manual of Style.

The Chicago Manual of Style uses a system of footnotes or endnotes for documentation, along with a bibliography. Kate Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses, and Dissertations and Mary Lynn Rampolla's A Pocket Guide to Writing in History (which was used extensively in preparing this guide) are also widely used by historians, since both are based on the Chicago system of documentation. Most historians and history publications, believing the system imprecise and prone to misunderstandings, do not use or accept parenthetical documentation as promoted by the Modern Language Association. However, as with all issues about writing, you should consult your professor's guidelines for documentation and follow them. The following examples, based on the Chicago system, are simply models for instruction. They should not take the place of using the appropriate style manuals for your classes, especially since the examples treat only the most common citations. This is especially true in the case of electronic sources, which are in a constant state of flux and which have not, as of yet, been totally standardized in regards to documentation. Please direct any questions you have to your professor or the HWRC.

Note: The first example in each case below is the note form, footnote or endnote, and the second example in each case is the bibliography form. Take notice of the differences between the two forms in word order, punctuation, spacing, and format.


Electronic Online Database

Include in the following order: the author; the page or document title in quotation marks; the title of the complete work in italics or underlined; the date of publication or last revision (or n.d. for "no date" if unknown); the URL in angle brackets; and the date of access in parentheses. If any of the above information is unknown, except the date of publication as above, simply omit that part of the citation. It is important to list your date of access because web sites are often updated or deleted, and information available at one date may not be available later.

      23"Ming Dynasty," Encyclopedia Britannica Online, n.d. <http://members.eb.com/bol/ topic?eu54157&sctn= 1#s_top> (12 September 2000).

     "Ming Dynasty." Encyclopedia Britannica Online. n.d. <http://members.eb.com/bol/ topic?eu54157&sctn= 1#s_top>(12 September 2000).


Article in an Online Journal

An online journal is one that is published electronically only.  It should not be confused with articles appearing in electronic on-line databases (see above), which contain articles that also have appeared in print format.  The two require different citation formats.  For articles from an online journal, include in the following order: the author; the article title in quotation marks; the title of the complete work in italics or underlined; the volume number; the date of publication; the URL in angle brackets; and the date of access in parentheses. It is important to list your date of access because web sites are often updated or deleted, and information available at one date may not be available later.

     4Richard Slotkin, "Ask the Author: Fiction for the Purposes of History," Common-Place: The Interactive Journal of Early American Life, 1 (September 2000) <http://www.common-place.org/vol-01/no-01/author/> (12 September 2000).

     Slotkin, Richard. "Ask the Author: Fiction for the Purposes of History." Common-Place: The Interactive Journal of Early American Life. 1 (September 2000) <http://www.common-place.org/vol-01/no-01/author/> (12 September 2000).


CD-ROM

Include in the following order: the author; the page or document title in quotation marks; the title of the complete work in italics or underlined; the type of media, i.e. CD_ROM; and the city, publisher, and date of publication or last revision. If any of the above information is unknown, simply omit that part of the citation.

      11"French Revolution," Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000 [CD-ROM] (Redmond, Washington: Microsoft Corporation, 2000).

      "French Revolution." Microsoft Encarta Encyclopedia 2000. [CD-ROM] Redmond, Washington: Microsoft Corporation, 2000.

     7United States Supreme Court, "Brown v. Board of Education (1954)," @History: An Interactive American History Source [CD-ROM] (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999).

     United States Supreme Court. "Brown v. Board of Education (1954)." @History: An Interactive American History Source. [CD-ROM] Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 1999.


E-Mail

Include in the following order: the author's name; the author's email address in angle brackets; the subject line of the posting in quotation marks; the date of publication; the type of communication; and the date of access in parentheses.

     50William and Mary History Writing Resources Center, <write1@wm.edu> "HWRC Open for Business," 5 September 2000, personal e-mail, (6 September 2000).

     William and Mary History Writing Resources Center. <write1@wm.edu> "HWRC Open for Business." 5 September 2000. Personal e-mail (6 September 2000).

     32Scott R. Nelson, <srnels@wm.edu> "How to Document E-mail," 11 September 2000, personal e-mail, (11 September 2000).

     Nelson, Scott R. <srnels@wm.edu> "How to Document E-mail." 11 September 2000. Personal e-mail. (11 September 2000).

Listserv or Newsgroup Message

Include in the following order: the author's name; the author's email address in angle brackets; the subject line of the posting in quotation marks; the date of publication; the name of the LISTSERV or newsgroup in angle brackets; and the date of access in parentheses. It is important to list your date of access because LISTSERV and newsgroup messages are often updated or deleted, and information available at one date may not be available later.

     33Deidre McCarthy, <DMcCarthy@nps.gov> "National Park Service Study of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites," 8 June 2000, <H-OIEAHC@H-NET.MSU.EDU> (10 June 2000).

     McCarthy, Deidre. <DMcCarthy@nps.gov> "National Park Service Study of Revolutionary War and War of 1812 Sites." 8 June 2000. <H-OIEAHC@H-NET.MSU.EDU> (10 June 2000).

     12Kyle F. Zelner, <kfzeln@wm.edu> "Eighteenth-Century Militia in U.S.," 11 November 1999, <H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU> (12 November 1999).

     Zelner, Kyle F. <kfzeln@wm.edu> "Eighteenth-Century Militia in U.S." 11 November 1999. <H-WAR@H-NET.MSU.EDU> (12 November 1999).

Listserv Book Review

   71Barrett L. Beer <beer234@alabama.edu> "Book Review of Gervase Phillips' The Anglo-Scots Wars," 2 June 2000, <H-Albion@h-net.msu.edu> (6 June 2000).

     Beer, Barrett L. <beer234@alabama.edu> "Book Review of Gervase Phillips, The Anglo-Scots Wars." 2 June 2000. <H-Albion@h-net.msu.edu> (6 June 2000).

Web Sites

Include in the following order: the author; the page or document title in quotation marks; the title of the complete work or site in italics or underlined; the date of publication or last revision (or n.d. for "no date" if unknown); the URL in angle brackets; and the date of access in parentheses. If any of the above information is unknown, except the date of publication as above, simply omit that part of the citation. It is important to list your date of access because web sites are often updated or deleted, and information available at one date may not be available later.

     15History Writing Resources Center, "Documentation Rules," The College of William and Mary's History Writing Resources Center, n.d. <http://www.wm.edu/hwrc/docsources.html> (4 September 2000).

     History Writing Resources Center. "Documentation Rules." The College of William and Mary's History Writing Resources Center. n.d. <http://www.wm.edu/hwrc/docsources.html> (4 September 2000).

     21Cotton Mather, "The Wonders of the Invisible World (1693)," Houghton Mifflin's @History, 1999, <http://college.hmco.com/history/us/primary/wonders.htm> (11 September 2000).

     Mather, Cotton. "The Wonders of the Invisible World (1693)." Houghton Mifflin's @History. 1999. <http://college.hmco.com/history/us/primary/wonders.htm> (11 September 2000).

     24National Park Service, "Washita Battlefield: National Historic Site," National Park Service ParkNet, 10 September 2000, <http://www.nps.gov/waba> (11 September 2000).

     National Park Service. "Washita Battlefield: National Historic Site." National Park Service ParkNet. 10 September 2000. <http://www.nps.gov/waba> (11 September 2000).

These other handouts on documentation are available from the History Writing Resources Center or as html files: