Citations, Footnoting, and Reference Lists

Individual instructors will specify which citation style, if any, they want their students to use. In general, however, Chicago Style-Scientific (also known as author-date) is preferred for most geography classes. Human geographers may also use Chicago Style-Humanities, which allows or footnoting and utilizes a slightly different citation format. Both of these styles are updated regularly, and are found in The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition. 

Chicago Style-Scientific is very similar to APA. Check with your instructor if you are used to using APA to see whether this may be allowed.

Additional Resources

Templates for Reference List, plus Title Page, Table of Contents, and Other Forms


Commonly Asked Citation Questions

1.  How do I know which citation style to use?

In physical geography, techniques, and most human geography courses, use of the Chicago Style-Scientific is preferred. Do not use Chicago-Style Humanities in a physical geography course unless you have spoken with the instructor in advance.

In cases when a larger number of sources cannot be converted into the author-date system (such as in those cases when you are working with unpublished materials, historical papers, etc.), it is best to use the Humanities style. (Check with your instructor if this is the case.)

Footnotes can be used in conjunction with Author-Date citation. However, in these cases, footnotes are not used for citation, but are instead reserved for additional information and author comments that would otherwise be too distracting in the body of the paper.

2.  Do I include website addresses in my in-text citations?

No. Web addresses are clunky and tell the reader little about the source. They also tend to change over time. Furthermore, a web address often neglects to indicate the ‘author’ of the information. The only reason to include website addresses in the body of the paper is if you are specifically referring to them. For example: “Census information for Canadian municipalities can be obtained on the Statistics Canada website, at” 

 3.  What if I read a source, found it useful, but did not use it directly in the paper. Can I include it in the reference list or bibliography? 

If you are required to use a reference list (works cited page), then include only those materials used directly in the paper. A bibliography will include all materials consulted, regardless of whether they are cited in the paper. However, most of the references in the bibliography should be cited in the paper.

4.  I’m using a journal article that I downloaded from Academic Search Premier or another on-line database. Do I need to include all the database information?

Usually, you will not include the database address. A journal database like Academic Search Premier, Sage, or Wiley Interscience is merely a conduit—an electronic library, if you will. Just as you do not provide the street address of the UFV library when you cite a book that you checked out there, you generally do not need to provide the on-line address for a search engine either.

If you have downloaded the article as a PDF, then the page numbers should have been preserved. A PDF copy of an article is like a photocopy of the article—it’s a ‘picture’ of what it would look like in the hard copy of the journal. Therefore, treat it as such. 

5.  I’m using a journal article that I found on-line, but not through a search engine. Do I include the web address?

If the journal is only available on-line through the website (i.e. it lacks a print version), then you must absolutely include the web address in the bibliography or reference list (but NOT in the in-text citation). Furthermore, if the journal articles are provided in HTML, you must also include the web address.

Provide the address for the journal’s homepage, rather than that of the specific article. The web address for the specific article will likely too long to include in the bibliography or works cited page.

6.  How do I know if journals are only available on-line

In truth, unless you are a seasoned geography researcher, it is likely that you won’t always know whether there are print equivalents of the journals you are using. Most journals used in geography do have print versions. Those that do not usually will usually specify that they are an on-line journal. If you are not sure, include the web access information. 

7.  What do I do if…

  •       The source I’m using is missing an author?

Avoid if at all possible beginning your citation with the date, although in some cases this is allowed. Generally, those sources most likely to be missing authors are newspaper articles, magazine features, and websites.

For newspaper articles, be sure to look at the end of the article. Sometimes the author is listed there. Websites often do not have an obvious ‘author’, but someone is hosting the website. It is that ‘someone’ who should be used as the author. For example, if you go on-line to the Rio 2016 Olympic site, the author would be Rio 2016 Olympic Committee. Sometimes the ‘author’ can only be discerned when examining the web address. The author of the following page, for instance: is the National Severe Storms Laboratory at NOAA (the US National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration). If there is no obvious ‘author’ or sponsor for the site, be leery of its content. It’s probably not worth using. Check with your instructor if you are not sure.

  •  I’m using a newspaper article that is missing the author but lists a news service?

 It’s not uncommon to come across newspaper articles that list a news service (e.g. The Associated Press, Reuters), but not an author. In these cases, the news service is the author, and should be listed as such.

  • The source I’m using is missing a date or place of publication?

In these cases, enter n.d. where the date would otherwise be or an n.p. where the place of publication would otherwise be. Note of caution: websites do not often clearly post the date of the information. In these cases, look for information at the bottom of the webpage (“last modified on”) or under contact information.




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