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Citation Guide: Primary Sources

Author Information

What do I do when there is no author? 

Start the citation with the first one, two, or three words from the title.

You should provide enough words to make it clear which work you're referring to from your Works Cited list.

If the title in the Works Cited list is in italics, italicize the words from the title in the in-text citation. If the title in the Works Cited list is in quotation marks, put quotation marks around the words from the title in the in-text citation.

Examples:

(Cell Biology 12)

("Nursing" 12)

What do I do if only the author's initials are available? 

The easiest method is to treat the initials as a unit. Use the initials in your in-text citation and list the entry under the first initial in your Works Cited list. 

Approximate Dates

What do you do if you only have approximate date?

If you only have an approximate date of creation, put it in square brackets. Example: [c. 1920]  The "c." is an abbreviation of circa ("about" in Latin).

Primary Sources from a Book

If you are using a primary source from one of the books on reserve, you can cite the document like a section from an anthology. 

Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Primary Source Document." Title of Book: Subtitle if Any, edited by Editor's First Name and Last Name, Edition if given and is not first, Publisher Name often shortened, Year of publication, Page numbers of the primary source.

Works Cited List Example  

Nelson, Robert. "Declaration of Independence of Lower Canada, February 1838." A History of Canada's Peoples: Beginnings to 1867. Margaret Conrad et al., 6th ed. vol 1, Pearson, 2015, pp. 256-257. 

  Note: The first author's name listed is the author of the primary source document

  Note: If there is no editor or main author given you may leave out that part of the citation.

In-Text Citation Example  

  (Author's Last Name Page Number)

  Example: (Nelson 257)

Primary Sources from an Online Collection

If you are using an online primary source from a website, follow the format below:

Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Primary Source Document: Subtitle." Year of creation.Title of Website, Publisher of Website, Publication Date, URL. Accessed Day Month Year.

Works Cited List Example  

Lord, J.K. "American Furs: How Trapped and Traded." [c. 1866]. Canadiana Online,  eco.canadiana.ca/view/oocihm.18349. Accessed 25 Oct. 2017.

  Note: The first author's name listed is the author of the primary source document

  Note: If the Publisher information is the same as the name of the website, you do not have to repeat it.

  Note: If you only have an approximate date of creation, put it in square brackets. Example: [c. 1920]  The "c." is an abbreviation of circa ("about" in Latin).

In-Text Citation Example  

  (Author's Last Name Page/Image Number)

  Example: (Lord 3)

Primary Sources from a Library Database

If you are using an online primary source from an online database, follow the format below:

Author's Last Name, First Name. "Title of Primary Source Document: Subtitle." Title of Journal, vol. Volume Number, no. Issue Number, Date of Publication, pp. First Page Number-Last Page Number. Name of Database, doi:DOI number if Any.

Works Cited List Example  

W.P. "On the Fur Trade." Agricultural Magazine, vol. 6, no. 30, Jan. 1802, pp. 9-12. American Antiquarian Society (AAS) Historical Periodicals Collection: Series 1.

  Note: This source is written by an author known only by initials; therefore, the easiest method is to treat the initials as a unit. Use the initials in your in-text citation and list the entry under the first initial in your Works Cited list. 

  Note: This source does not have a doi number, so this information is omitted.  

In-Text Citation Example  

  (Author's Last Name Page Number)

  Example: (W.P. 9)

 

United Nations International School, Hanoi