Using Footnotes


Historians generally use the footnote citation style outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style to cite their sources—and for good reason.  First, historians often use footnotes to carry on a conversation with other historians whose work they are building upon or criticizing.  Second, historians know that other historians are likely to read their footnotes and to seek out their sources to verify their interpretations.  Many historical sources are difficult to find and therefore require a more specific description than can be accomplished through other citation methods.  In short, footnotes or endnotes make good sense for historians.

A Few Basics

  • Learn to use the “insert footnote” function in your word processing software, which automatically takes care of footnote superscripts and numbering. Do not type notes into the footer of the document, as every note will then appear on every page.  This approach will not allow you to give specific page numbers for each citation. Get help: Microsoft Word || Google Docs.
  • Footnotes are normally rendered in 10-point font (or two points smaller than the font for the main text). I have used 12-point font in the examples below, however, for your reading comfort.
  • If a source is paginated, you must include a specific page number for each citation for a paraphrase or quotation. If there are no page numbers but some other means of identifying specific locations, use that marker instead (i.e., location number, paragraph number, etc.).
  • As a general rule, if your first footnote citation of each source is a complete citation, you do not need to provide a bibliography or works cited page, though some instructors may beg to differ.
  • Make sure that you use footnote rather than bibliography format in your footnotes. Bibliography format is designed to create a list that can be alphabetized.  Footnotes, however, are in a sentence-like format.
  • For additional examples and citation formats, see the Chicago Manual of Style citation page at the Purdue Online Writing Lab (OWL) (use the menu on the left side of the OWL page). Also useful is the Citation Quick Guide at CMS Online.
  • UWGB students have free access to the NoodleTools citation manager.

Getting Started

  • First Citation
    • The first citation of a source needs to give complete information about the source.  When you cite an article or source that is part of a larger work, you need to provide both the page range for the complete article or source (in the first citation) and the specific page numbers that you refer to or quote from.  See the sample footnotes below.
  • Shortened, Repeated Citations
    • Repeated citations normally need to state only the author’s last name, an abbreviated title, and page numbers.  (If you are citing works by two or more authors with the same last name, you would need to use the first name as well.)  Here are some sample shortened citations for an article and a book:
      • 4 Fox, “Niebuhr,” 254.
      • 5 McDonnell, Masters of Empire, 3.
    • Note that ibid. (an abbreviation for the Latin ibidem, which means “in the same place”) is no longer recommended, as of the 17th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. While ibid worked fine for typewriter manuscripts, with the rise of word processing and electronic texts there is a risk of jumbling citations if sentences or paragraphs are moved around, or if new sentences and citations are inserted. Please use the shortened format noted above instead.
  • Using Italics and Quotation Marks for Titles
    • In footnotes as well as in the body of an essay, you should italicize titles of books, journals, magazines, newspapers, plays, and films.  The titles of shorter works, such as articles, short stories, and poems (that are not book-length), should be placed inside quotation marks.
  • Works Quoted in Another Source
    • When you are quoting a quotation from a book or article, etc., your footnote citation should indicate this fact. This situation commonly comes up if you are copying a quotation of a literary or historical figure from a secondary source.
      • Rachel Carson, Silent Spring (1962), quoted in . . . [Insert full citation of source in which the quotation appears, using the formats below. Give as much information as you have about the quotation, such as the date, etc., and cite the book or article and the page number.]
      • Margaret Fuller, Sept. 4, 1841, letter to Ralph Waldo Emerson, quoted in . . . [Insert full citation of source in which the quotation appears, using the formats below. Give as much information as you have about the quotation, such as the date, etc., and cite the book or article and the page number.]

Citing Books

Single-Author Book

6 Andrew Delbanco, The Death of Satan: How Americans Have Lost the Sense of Evil (New York: Farrar, Strauss and Giroux, 1995), 45.

Chapter or Essay in Edited Collection

7 Nathan O. Hatch, “The Second Great Awakening and the Market Revolution,” in Devising Liberty: Preserving and Creating Freedom in the Early American Republic, edited by David T. Konig (Stanford: Stanford Univ. Press, 1995), 243-64, see 245.  [Note:  The page range is for the entire essay, and it should be included with the first, complete citation.  The “see 254” refers to the specific page being cited.]

8 Karen Halttunen, “Early American Murder Narratives,” in The Power of Culture: Critical Essays in American History, edited by Richard W. Fox and T. J. Jackson Lears (Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1993), 66-101, see 68-72.

Book with an Editor and Introduction

9 Charles Brockden Brown, Wieland and Memoirs of Carwin the Biloquist, edited with introduction by Jay Fliegelman (New York: Penguin, 1991), 67.


10 David S. Reynolds, John Brown: Abolitionist (New York: Vintage, 2006), Kindle edition, chap. 5.  [Give the citation of the paper version and then note the kind of e-book edition (Kindle, Nook, Google, etc.) and the chapter number, assuming page numbers are not available.]

 Primary Source in Edited Collection

11 Lidian Emerson, “Transcendental Bible,” in The American Transcendentalists: Essential Writings, edited by Lawrence Buell (New York: Modern Library, 2006), 175-77.

Editor’s Headnote on Primary Source in Edited Collection

12 Lawrence Buell, headnote for Lidian Emerson, “Transcendental Bible,” in The American Transcendentalists: Essential Writings, edited by Lawrence Buell (New York: Modern Library, 2006), 175.

Citing Articles

Article in Scholarly Journal

13 Neal Salisbury, “The Indians’ Old World: Native Americans and the Coming of Europeans,” William and Mary Quarterly 53 (1996): 435-458.  [Note: 53 is the volume number.  Note that if you are citing an article from a scholarly journal, you don’t need to cite the online database, such as Ebscohost or JSTOR, and you do not need to provide the link.  Instead, give the full citation for the journal.]

Article in Reference Work

14 James T. Kloppenberg, “Enlightenment,” in A Companion to American Thought, edited by Richard W. Fox and James T. Kloppenberg (Malden, Mass.: Blackwell, 1995), 207-09.

Article in Magazine

15 Thomas Adolphus Trollope, “Some Recollections of Hiram Powers,” Lippincott’s Monthly Magazine, Feb. 1875, 205-15, see 207-08.

Book Review

16 David J. Voelker, “The Rise and Fall of American Transcendentalism,” review of American Transcendentalism: A History, by Philip F. Gura, H-SHEAR, 13 Oct. 13, 2009),

Citing Online Resources

Online Document

17 Abraham Lincoln, “The Emancipation Proclamation,” January 1, 1863,

Online Photograph

18 Alison Smith, “The Fox River,” March 18, 2013.

Online Audio or Video

19 Hannah Tiedt, “Baird Creek Greenway: Local Wilderness,” Part 1.  Dec. 10, 2012.


20 Krista Tippett, interview with Robin Wall Kimmerer, “The Intelligence in All Kinds of Life,” On Being, podcast audio, Feb. 25, 2016,

Citing Course Materials

Class Lectures, Slides, and Handouts, etc.

21 David Voelker, class lecture, 15 October 2012.

22 David Voelker, “Transcendentalism,” PowerPoint slides, 15 October 2012.

23 David Voelker, “The Enlightenment,” History 302 Handout, Fall 2012.

Article in Coursepack

24 Ralph Waldo Emerson, “The Divinity School Address,” in Problems of American Thought Reader, edited by David J. Voelker (Green Bay, Univ. of Wisconsin–Green Bay, 2005), 67.  [Note: If you are using a published secondary source that appears inside a coursepack or on D2L, please cite the original source using the citation information provided with the source, usually on the first page.  Do not provide links to D2L.  Instead, give the most complete citation that you can with the information available.]

Coursepack Article Authored by Instructor

25 David Voelker, introduction to William Ellery Channing, “‘The Moral Argument Against Calvinism’ (1820) and ‘Likeness to God’ (1828),” in Problems in American Thought Reader (2007), 32.

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Writing Handbook for History & Humanities by David J. Voelker is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License.