The source of a piece of information given in the text of the course assignment should be indicated by means of a footnote, though not if it is a fact which can be taken to be common knowledge among historians. Thus, no source need be given for the fact that Queen Victoria came to the throne on 20 June 1837, but the statement that she was at first expected to sign public documents as Alexandrina Victoria might be supported by a reference.
You should always use footnotes when you are quoting directly from a primary or secondary source: quotations should be acknowledged by the use of single inverted commas (double ones for quotations within a quotation). You should also use footnotes when you are paraphrasing the views of a particular author or otherwise deriving significant interpretive points from an author. Occasionally, you may wish to use a footnote to discuss different interpretations of a given question or to elaborate on a point raised in your text.
Footnotes should be numbered consecutively, should be in single-spacing and should be located either at the foot of the page of text to which they relate or at the end of the course assignment. In the text use a number raised above the line.
For example: Elvin describes the economy of China in the Ming and Ching periods as being caught in a 'high-level equilibrium trap' 15
- Initial reference: should be cited as in the bibliography (see below), except that page number(s) should also be given. e.g. 15 M. Elvin, The Pattern of the Chinese Past, (London, 1973), p.292
- Subsequent reference: should normally appear in abbreviated form, including the authors surname, short title, and the page number. e.g. 16 Elvin, Pattern, p.309
Footnoting should be consistent: the test of its success is that the reader is able to follow up the references with ease. Where an author cites a primary printed or manuscript source, you should not cite that source unless you have consulted it yourself. If it is important to identify the primary source from which the author is quoting, then your footnote should acknowledge that you yourself have not consulted it:
- e.g. Robert Ferguson, Account of the Obligations the States of Holland have to Great Britain (London, 1711), p.45, quoted in S. Schama, The Embarrassment of Riches (London, 1987), p.231.
It is very important that you should follow these guidelines closely - failure to provide proper footnotes will lose you marks needlessly.