Notes and Reference System


• Generally notes (i.e. footnotes) should be kept brief. Source references should be given with as little additional matter as possible. Do not use references to ‘pad’ the text.

• Notes should be numbered throughout the essay or chapter in a dissertation in an unbroken sequence (3a, as an afterthought, is not acceptable). 

• Op. cit., loc. cit. and idem should not be used as forms of reference, but ibid. may be used. Where a reference is identical with the immediately previous one apart from the page numbers cited, the abbreviation ‘Ibid.’ (a contraction of Ibidem, meaning ‘in the same place’) may be used instead of the short title of the book or article concerned. 

• The form of reference used in your notes should be applied consistently. The short-title system described below is the model we use, though you will see others in books and articles. As a general rule, writing in humanities subjects (which refer regularly to historical sources and documents) are best served by the short-title system, whereas books in more technical social science subjects tend to use the author-date system.


History uses the MHRA guidelines as a standard form of referencing (footnotes or endnotes). Details of the MHRA forms of referencing for various types of sources are available via Your bibliography should be divided into archival sources (where used), other primary sources, printed secondary sources, and digitised secondary sources.