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HIST 203 - Canada Since 1867

How to cite sources

Why should you cite your sources?

Every box of cookies has its list of ingredients.  You term paper also has its list of ingredients: the sources you used in writing it.  

The ingredients in the cookies are listed in a prescribed order (descending order of quantity) and the chemical compounds according to a prescribed international scientific nomenclature, so you can tell what you are eating.  The ingredients in your paper are also described in a prescribed order and in a standard style. 

Why cite?

  • To give credit to the person(s) responsible for the ideas you are using, 
  • To give a source when citing a fact that is not common knowledge, (E.g. “The Fathers of Confederation met in Charlottetown in 1864” does not need a footnote, but “much of the impetus for that meeting stemmed from the Civil War then raging in the United States” does.)
  • To make it possible for someone interested in the ideas you are expressing to find your raw materials and, like a good scientific experiment, replicate your work and see if they reach the same conclusions, and
  • To identify the materials unambiguously, so that they can be readily located by any other scholar in any other well-equipped library.

Just as the ingredients of the cookies have been inspected for quality, so the sources you are using for your paper have been inspected for quality.  This is why scholarly, peer-reviewed secondary sources are used for a research paper.


How do you cite your sources?

The sources you hand in must be in “correct citation style.”  For this course, it means the forms of citation in Chicago Manual of Style.

There are three main kinds of items you may be citing:

  • Separately existing items (e.g. a book),
  • Smaller items within larger works (e.g. a journal article or an article in a collection), 
  • Electronic items (whose context is conditional upon a great many factors)

The rules for citing most types of documents you will encounter can be found in these documents can be found in the Chicago style tutorial produced by Purdue University. For documents not covered there, you can use the official Chicago Manual of Style, or ask a librarian.

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