Placement of Citations: Traditional Style

When placing bibliographic citations, authors should consider both the need for accuracy and the legibility and aesthetics of the text. Placement varies depending on whether one is using traditional documentation style or author-date style. This post will discuss placement of citations in traditional documentation style. For the placement of bibliographic references in author-date documentation style, see here.

1. Placement of footnotes

In traditional documentation style, authors use footnotes to cite sources. Such footnotes are generally placed at the end of a sentence or clause, following the punctuation (examples here come from Økland 2016).

 They were not drinking with the men, but in the royal apartments, called the harem.13

 Josephus (Jewish Antiquities) later follows Greek Esther in this respect,9 but …

It is preferable to include only one footnote per sentence. More than one footnote, although often thought to add clarity, frequently distracts the reader. Compare the following (example here modified from Robinson 2016):

Using the latter term, Jewett claims that believers are “members of the realm of Christ” in that “their very being is shaped by Spirit rather than flesh,”6 and Ernst Käsemann states: “Commitment to one or the other power makes one a member of a worldwide domain which can be defined by the alternatives of righteousness and unrighteousness, Christ and Adam, Spirit and flesh, or Spirit and law.”7

6. Robert Jewett, Romans: A Commentary, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007), 489.

7. Ernst Käsemann, Commentary on Romans, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), 220.

 *******

Using the latter term, Jewett claims that believers are “members of the realm of Christ” in that “their very being is shaped by Spirit rather than flesh,” and Ernst Käsemann states: “Commitment to one or the other power makes one a member of a worldwide domain which can be defined by the alternatives of righteousness and unrighteousness, Christ and Adam, Spirit and flesh, or Spirit and law.”6

6. Robert Jewett, Romans: A Commentary, Hermeneia (Minneapolis: Fortress, 2007), 489; Ernst Käsemann, Commentary on Romans, trans. Geoffrey W. Bromiley (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1981), 220.

Although the first example more clearly links each citation with the source being quoted, the second example is less distracting to the reader, and the combined note usually can be phrased to convey the facts clearly. For this reason, we recommend that authors combine multiple footnotes in a sentence whenever possible.

If a footnote refers to multiple consecutive sentences, place the footnote after the last sentence (example here from Huber 2016).

In The Letters to the Seven Churches, originally published in 1904, classical archaeologist and New Testament scholar Sir William Ramsay famously paired detailed descriptions of the cities of Revelation, drawing upon ancient texts, archaeological resources, and his own experiences in Turkey, with discussions of the corresponding messages. This approach is based upon his assumption that John “imparts to [the letters] many touches, specially suitable to the individual Churches … showing his intimate knowledge of them all.”3

3. William Mitchell Ramsay, The Letters to the Seven Churches of Asia and Their Place in the Plan of the Apocalypse, 2nd ed. (London: Hodder & Stoughton, 1906), 39.

Rather than provide a bibliographic reference for Ramsay after the first sentence, the footnote after the quote adequately conveys the citation information for the preceding two sentences.

2. Bibliographic Information inside Footnotes

Inside a footnote, bibliographic references should be presented in a way that facilitates reader comprehension. Multiple bibliographic references can be separated by a semicolon (example here from Robinson 2016).

3. Paul Ricoeur, The Rule of Metaphor: Multi-disciplinary Studies in the Creation of Meaning in Language, trans. Robert Czerny with Kathleen McLaughlin and John Costello, S.J. (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978), 16; Veronika Koller, Metaphor and Gender in Business Media Discourse: A Critical Cognitive Study (Hampshire: Palgrave Macmillan, 2004), 16.

References to multiple works by the same author in a single footnote should repeat the last name of the author rather than use idem (see CMS §14.30; example here modified from Kline 2016).

Incorrect: 97. Cyrus H. Gordon argued that brh in Isa 27:1 should be translated “evil,” based on an Arabic cognate (“Near East Seals in Princeton and Philadelphia,” Or 22 [1953]: 243; see also Cyrus H. Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook, AnOr 38 [Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1965], 376).

Incorrect: 7. Cyrus H. Gordon argued that brh in Isa 27:1 should be translated “evil,” based on an Arabic cognate (“Near East Seals in Princeton and Philadelphia,” Or 22 [1953]: 243; see also idem, Ugaritic Textbook, AnOr 38 [Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1965], 376).

Correct: 97. Cyrus H. Gordon argued that brh in Isa 27:1 should be translated “evil,” based on an Arabic cognate (“Near East Seals in Princeton and Philadelphia,” Or 22 [1953]: 243; see also Gordon, Ugaritic Textbook, AnOr 38 [Rome: Pontifical Biblical Institute, 1965], 376).

When a quotation or a discussion inside a footnote is followed by a full reference, the bibliographic reference can be treated as a new sentence introduced with See or a similar word (example here from Huber 2016).

77. This is in line with DeSilva’s treatment of Rev 2–3 as part of the text’s use of honor discourse. See David A. DeSilva, “Honor Discourse and the Rhetorical Strategy of the Apocalypse of John,” JSNT 71 (1998): 79–110.

However, when a quotation or discussion inside a footnote is followed by a short reference, include the short reference within parentheses, followed by a period (examples modified from Robinson 2016).

Incorrect: It is interesting to note that Richards also seems to anticipate Lakoff and Johnson’s basic definition of metaphor when he writes that metaphor includes “those processes in which we perceive or think of or feel about one thing in terms of another.” Richards, Philosophy of Rhetoric, 116–17.

Correct: It is interesting to note that Richards also seems to anticipate Lakoff and Johnson’s basic definition of metaphor when he writes that metaphor includes “those processes in which we perceive or think of or feel about one thing in terms of another” (Richards, Philosophy of Rhetoric, 116–17).

Incorrect: 55. Entailments are “rich inferences” or knowledge (“sometimes quite detailed”) that we can infer from conceptual metaphors; Evans and Green, Cognitive Linguistics, 298–99.

Correct: 55. Entailments are “rich inferences” or knowledge (“sometimes quite detailed”) that we can infer from conceptual metaphors (Evans and Green, Cognitive Linguistics, 298–99).

Proper placement and formatting of notes promotes both accuracy (helping readers understand) and textual legibility and aesthetics (avoiding textual clutter) and thus contributes to the effective communication of information and ideas.

Works Cited

Huber, Lynn R. 2016. “Making Men in Rev 2–3: Reading the Seven Messages in the Bath-Gymnasiums of Asia Minor.” Pages 129–55 in Stones, Bones and the Sacred: Essays from the Colloquia on Material Culture and Ancient Religion in Honor of Dennis E. Smith. Edited by Alan H. Cadwallader. ECL 21. Atlanta: SBL Press.

Kline, Jonathan. 2016. Allusive Soundplay in the Hebrew Bible. AIL 28. Atlanta: SBL Press.

Økland, Jorunn. 2016. “Ancient Drinking in Modern Bible Translation” Pages 85–128 in Stones, Bones and the Sacred: Essays from the Colloquia on Material Culture and Ancient Religion in Honor of Dennis E. Smith. Edited by Alan H. Cadwallader. ECL 21. Atlanta: SBL Press.

Robinson, William E. W. 2016. Metaphor, Morality, and the Spirit in Romans 8:1–17. ECL 20. Atlanta: SBL Press.

4 thoughts on “Placement of Citations: Traditional Style

  1. […] When placing bibliographic citations, authors should consider both the need for accuracy and the legibility and aesthetics of the text. Placement varies depending on whether one is using traditional documentation style or author-date style. This post will discuss placement of citations in author-date documentation style. For the placement of bibliographic references in traditional documentation style, see our blog post here. […]

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