Writing with style: Preparing Essays, papers and Dissertations in History and economic & social History


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Writing with style:

Preparing Essays, PAPERS and Dissertations

in History and economic & social History

University of Glasgow

rev. 23 September 2010


Introduction 2
1. Preparing Essays: The Basics 2

What Your Tutor Is Looking For in an Essay




Punctuation and Syntax


Tables and Figures

2. Plagiarism 8
3. References 9


Forms of Reference


4. Dissertations 15
5. Citing Primary Sources and Theses 16

1. Mock Essay with Footnotes 19

2. Sample Dissertation Pages 20
Written work is central to assessment in History and Economic and Social History. Most undergraduate courses will require students to submit one or two essays, and these provide preparation for examinations. Postgraduates also write essays or papers. Both final year undergraduates and master’s students write dissertations, which, while much longer than the typical essay, share many of its features.

This handbook seeks to provide guidance to students about the preparation and presentation of written work and about the use and acknowledgement of books, articles, web sites, original documents, and other source materials. Its audience includes students in their first year, who are writing university essays for the first time, all the way to postgraduate students working towards a taught or research degree. PGR students should also familiarise themselves with College and University guidelines on layout of research theses.

The first part of chapter 1 is intended primarily for first year students, although more experienced students may still find useful tips here, particularly in sections 1.5 onwards, which cover matters of style and presentation. The guidance on referencing in chapters 3 is relevant to all students writing essays and dissertations. Chapters 4 and 5 are intended for final year and PG students, who are writing dissertations and theses based upon original sources.
All students should pay close attention to the advice on avoiding plagiarism in chapter 2.

Undergraduate students will usually be asked to write essays, while postgraduates will more often write papers. An essay answers a question set by the tutor, and the student has to start by figuring out what the question is about.  A paper is one where the student decides the issues, approaches and parameters, within a general field agreed with the tutor.
The initial sections of this chapter are primarily intended for undergraduate students writing essays, although all students should observe the points on punctuation and style from section 1.5 onwards.

1.1. What Your Tutor Is Looking For in an Essay

Your tutor is looking for a coherent overall argument which answers the question you have chosen. You should answer the set question in as focused a way as possible. What is the point of the question? What subsidiary questions does it raise? Your tutor needs to see that you understand why the question has been asked and what implications it has.

Plan before you start; your tutor will soon notice if your essay begins to lose coherence. A good plan of attack is necessary to a successful essay. Your essay will normally consist of an analysis which presents a series of points, in the form of an argument. Avoid a narrative or chronological approach. It is important that you present appropriate evidence and detailed case studies, but make sure that these support substantive points of your analysis. Do not include description just to fill space.

Think about the relevance of all parts of your essay to the question, and the logic of your conclusion. Sustained argument is essential to a successful essay.
While showing awareness of different points of views, you should be able to do more than just present the opinions of others; you need to be able to show that you have developed your own view of the topic. Your essay should not consist simply of quotations and paraphrases from your reading.
1.2. Structure

There is no hard and fast rule for how an essay should be organised. Some essays will require you to be more aware of debates among historians, while others will place greater emphasis on primary sources. Nonetheless, your essay is likely to have to consider the following issues:

  • What is the historical context of the set question? What is happening in the period that is relevant? Is there a larger historical problem of which the set question is a component?

  • What have historians said about the question (or about the larger historical problem)? If they disagree (as they almost certainly do), is this due to differences in methodology, definitions of key concepts, or the evidence they select, or does it reflect particular ideological viewpoints they bring to the problem? Who are the important writers on the subject?

  • What do you think? Remember that your essay should present your point of view, based on evidence derived from your reading.
  • An analysis involves breaking a problem down into its component parts. This can be done in a variety of ways, but comparing and contrasting often work well. For example, you might contrast developments in two places in the same time period (e.g. France and Germany, or different cities), or compare the position in different time periods, for example, at the beginning and end of the relevant period, or before and after a crucial event. Whatever comparison you choose, your analysis is likely to involve presenting evidence which supports an argument and other evidence which challenges it. (Hint: it is usually best to introduce contrary evidence first, before countering it with evidence in support of your argument);

In general terms, your essay will have an introduction, a ‘body’, and a conclusion:

  • The introduction is where you explain why the set question is worth studying. Perhaps the period is one of significant change, whose impact is uncertain; or perhaps this is a question historians disagree about; or there may be a particular event (for example, a revolution) whose causes need explanation. These are just a few examples, but there are many others. Your introduction may be the place to state a hypothesis you will test, or even the thesis which you intend to prove. Alternatively, you may prefer to save your conclusions until the end. In the introduction, you may also: introduce key definitions; summarise historical debate; and define your approach. Your introduction should not be too long, however — one to three paragraphs is a very rough guide.

  • The body of the essay is where you present your analysis and evidence.

  • The conclusion is usually a single paragraph stating what you have contributed to the historical problem you introduced on the first page. If you defined a hypothesis, say whether you disproved or confirmed it. Do not repeat all of the points you have made in the essay, but concentrate on the larger question. What are the implications of your findings, and what new questions arise from your findings?

1.3. Presentation

An essay should have a title page, text with footnotes, and a bibliography.

Title page

The title page should state

  • the subject name;

  • the course title;

  • tutor’s name (and seminar group, if relevant);

  • the title of the question being answered;
  • your matriculation number;

  • the date of submission;

  • and the word count, including text and footnotes.

The title page is usually not numbered. Do not put your name on the title page or elsewhere in the essay.


The essay must be word-processed according to the following guidelines:

  • Use one side only of A4 paper per page of your essay.

  • All margins should be at least 1 inch (25 mm).

  • The text should have 1.5 (or double) line spacing.

  • Divide the text into paragraphs, with a blank line between each paragraph.

  • The font size should be 11 or 12 point, and the print should be clear and black. The text may be left aligned or justified, as you wish.

  • The page number should be displayed at the top or bottom of each page, starting with 1 on the first page of text.

  • Staple your essay together. You must hand in TWO copies, one of which will be returned to you after marking. (Keep your own copy, also.) A folder is neither required not recommended.

  • You should submit one copy of the University’s Declaration of Originality form with any written work.

1.4. Quotations

Quotations should be kept to a minimum and should be no longer than is needed to prove your point. They are normally used when the exact wording is needed to support your argument, or (sparingly) to give a ‘flavour’ of the original. Your essay should not simply present a series of quotations and paraphrases from your reading.

You might, for example, quote from a primary source because the wording provides evidence of a particular point of view or use of language, or from a secondary source to document the view of an historian or a group of historians. The source of quotations and close paraphrases must be given in a footnote reference.

If you use the same wording as a primary or secondary source, then you must indicate this with single inverted commas (unless the quotation is long and thus indented). Unless the wording is important, however, it is preferable to use your own words.
Use single, not double, inverted commas, to indicate a quotation. Double quotation marks are used only for a ‘quote “within” a quote’, which will not occur often. Quotations should appear in the same font as the rest of the text, not in italics. Short quotations should be placed within the text, and not on a separate line, in order to keep the text flowing.
Use longer quotations sparingly. As a rule, quotations need to be placed on a separate line only if they are more than forty words long (around three lines). Long quotations should be
indented on the left by at least 0.5 inch (12 mm); separated from the text by a blank line above and below; single-spaced; and left aligned or justified (not centred). Do not use inverted commas when indenting a quotation.
You may insert or remove words from a quotation, as long as you indicate that you are doing so. Inserted words or phrases are signalled by square brackets. The removal of text is indicated by three dots together ‘…’, known as an ellipsis.1 Thus, ‘An Antiquary ... is a man strangely thrift of Time past ... [He] loves all things … the better for being mouldy and worme-eaten.’2

Note: the placement of the end quotation mark, if at the end of a sentence varies in relation to the full stop. If the quotation is not a complete sentence, place the end quotation mark before the full stop (see below, Appendix 1, first sentence in the mock essay); if the quotation is a full sentence, place the end quotation mark after the full stop (see the example in the previous paragraph). A footnote number at the end of a sentence is always placed after the end of the punctuation.

1.5. Punctuation and Syntax

Apostrophes: apostrophes are used to indicate possessive forms of nouns; in formal scholarly writing, words are spelled out in full and contractions such as ‘don’t’ should not be used. The apostrophe occurs before ‘s’ in the singular, but after ‘s’ if plural. Proper names ending with ‘s’, like James, get an extra ‘s’. Apostrophes are not required for pronouns, such as ‘his’ or ‘its’. Do not use the possessive apostrophe when referring to a decade, since the ‘s’ in ‘the 1930s’ indicates a plural noun. Examples: King Richard’s horse; St James’s Palace; cannot, not can’t; the rioters’ occupations; the church lost its rood loft; it is said, not it’s said; 1920s, not 1920’s, not the 20s. As a rule, in formal writing, never use an apostrophe in its; in most cases it will be wrong or inappropriate.
Punctuation: Full stops indicate the end of a sentence, while commas (and less frequently colons and semi-colons) mark off its parts. Avoid over-use of ─ dashes ─ exclamation marks! and (brackets).
Commas: Commas are most commonly used in lists and to separate subordinate clauses and compound sentences. They should not be placed between the subject and verb of a sentence. (Forget the misleading rule that a comma should be inserted at any pause.) Thus, ‘The unemployed agricultural labourers set fire to hay ricks’, not ‘The unemployed agricultural labourers, set fire to hay ricks.’

Sentences: All sentences should contain a verb. A clause without a verb is usually part of the previous or following sentence, not a sentence of its own. Thus, ‘Withholding charity led to accusations of witchcraft. As is seen from the evidence of pamphlets’ might read ‘Withholding charity led to accusations of witchcraft, as is seen from the evidence of pamphlets’, or (even better) ‘Evidence from pamphlets shows that the withholding of charity led to accusations of witchcraft’.

Passive voice: Avoid the passive voice, which leads to vague writing because it removes the human actor from the sentence. It is better to write ‘The confraternity commissioned a painting of charitable activity’ (active) than ‘A painting of charitable activity was commissioned’ (passive).


  • Correct spelling is essential - use a spellchecker or dictionary. You can consult the OED online through GUL’s ‘reference sources’ page.

  • Avoid the over-use of rhetorical questions, such as ‘What was the emperor to do next?’

  • Avoid unsupported generalisations.

  • Avoid slang.

  • Do not personalise your argument by using phrases such as ‘It is my opinion...’ You may use the first person, for example, ‘I will argue...’ or ‘As we have seen...’.

  • Avoid padding with phrases like ‘It is important to note that….’

  • Vary the structure of sentences.

1.6. Style

Be consistent in matters of style, and follow these guidelines:

Dates: ‘16 January 1990’ not ‘January 16, 1990’

Numbers: numbers under 10 should be spelt out in letters except where attached to a unit of quantity (e.g. 1mm, or 3 kg) or percentages (e.g. 3%); numbers of 10 or more should be rendered in digits except where the context makes this awkward (e.g., use spelt-out forms at the beginning of a sentence). Write ranges in the simplest form, such as 113-14, 1003-14, 1003-4. Write 0.5, 0.67, not .5, .67, etc.
Capitalisation: avoid as far as possible, except where lack of it might lead to ambiguity. As a general rule, capitalise a noun when you are referring to a specific person or office, but otherwise use lower case. The following examples will help you decide:

Titles. King John says but a king must. The Minister of Information, but the minister of a church. The Foreign Secretary, the Duke of Buccleuch, but a duke, a bishop. Hyphenated titles are capitalised in both parts: Major-General, Vice-President, etc.

Geographical. North, South, East, West if part of the title of an area or a political division, e.g. South Africa, Western Europe, but not if they are descriptions in general terms, e.g. the south of Scotland, south-west California, western winds.

Institutions/ideas. The state, the church, but the State of Indiana, the Roman Catholic Church. Parliament, but parliamentary behaviour, parliamentarians. Communism and Fascism take capitals but capitalism, syndicalism, social democracy, socialism, the press (of newspapers) do not. Use capitals for Marxism and Christianity, which are derived from proper nouns.

Political/military. The Republican Party, but the party; the Tory government and the government, government policy. The Great War was the war to end all wars. The British Army, the officer corps, army ways. A coalition was formed, the Lloyd George Coalition Government. The left of the party, left-wing politics. The Roman Empire, the politics of empire, Roman imperialism. The Ministry of Defence, the Ministries of Defence and Agriculture.
Italics: use italics, underlining and bold for emphasis sparingly. In a word-processed essay, it is conventional to use italics in place of underlining. Italics are most often used to indicate book and journal titles and foreign words.
Abbreviations: initial letter abbreviations should be typed with no full stop (e.g., UK, UNESCO, BBC). Abbreviations in which the last letter of the abbreviation is the same as the last letter of the word should also have no full stop, e.g., Mr, St, but no., Str., etc., ed. Note that the plural of ed. is eds (with no full stop).
Headings: It is not necessary to break your essay up into sections or sub-headings.

Bullet points are not used in formal writing, but they may be appropriate in other writing for a course, e.g. seminar papers; ask your tutor.

1.7. Tables and Figures

Your essay may include tables and figures. Tables present frequencies, crosstabs or aggregated statistics. Figures may include charts, graphs, maps, photos or other images. Tables and figures should be numbered sequentially from one in two separate series. Thus, you may have Tables 1, 2, 3, 4, … and also Figures 1, 2, 3, 4, etc.3
Follow the following guidelines in presenting tables and figures.

  • Each table and figure should be marked with the appropriate number and with a clear title of its contents, either above or below. For example, ‘Table 1: Occupations of Irish-born Men, 1851’.

  • Statistics in tables should be shown in rows and columns, with a heading for each. Numbers in ‘cells’ should be right-aligned. (This effect is easily produced in Microsoft Word using the Table function.) Be sure to indicate whether numbers are percentages or values. If percentages are used, then you should give the total number of cases (N) in each row and column.

  • In figures, make sure that axes and series are clearly labelled.

  • Provide the source below the table or figure. For example, Source: B. R. Mitchell, British Historical Statistics (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1988), p. 8.

Plagiarism (unacknowledged copying of material or ideas from anyone or anywhere) is a serious academic offence. It is important that you familiarise yourself with the University of Glasgow Plagiarism Statement, from which the following points are taken:

  • ‘All work submitted by students for assessment is accepted on the understanding that it is the student’s own effort.’
  • ‘Plagiarism is defined as the submission or presentation of work, in any form, which is not one’s own, without acknowledgement of the sources.’

  • ‘The incorporation of material without formal and proper acknowledgement (even with no deliberate intent to cheat) can constitute plagiarism.’

  • ‘Alleged plagiarism, at whatever stage of a student’s studies, whether before or after graduation, will be investigated and dealt with appropriately by the University.’

  • Severe cases of plagiarism will be referred to the Senate Office who will decide further action. Where the case is judged less severe the Head of School (or his/her delegate) may impose penalties. Procedures are outlined in the University Plagiarism Statement.

  • The penalties for plagiarism can be severe, ranging from loss of marks to exclusion from graduation.

It is better to learn what to avoid before you submit coursework than to discover the hard way what your tutors will judge to be plagiarised. Some simple guidelines will help you to avoid plagiarism:

  1. Copying word for word from anywhere (including the web) is acceptable only if you use inverted commas to mark the cited passage, AND state explicitly from where by indicating your source. Otherwise, you could be found guilty of plagiarism even if you were not intending to deceive.

  2. Even if you change a few words, or omit sections, you still must acknowledge your source if you are copying from a book, article or website, in order to avoid suspicion of plagiarism.

  3. When you take notes from printed material or from the web always take care, even in material that is only for your own use, that you mark as such any passage you have copied, or any specific idea/concept that you have adopted and which is not otherwise in common use. That way, if you return to the material later, you will not be in any doubt.
  4. Equally, always make a note of where a quotation comes from (full reference, or the web address if applicable), so that you can include that information as a footnote in your essay. Such a reference makes it clear that you acknowledge what you have used. More general material that you are not citing directly, but have used as part of the preparation, should always be cited in your bibliography.

  5. For a common-sense approach to footnoting and what to cite, read the guidance given in chapter 3 of this guide. If in doubt, ask your course tutor to explain.

  6. You should also take care not to re-use work you have submitted in the past. Credit can only be given once for a particular piece of assessed work. Submitting the same piece of work (or a significant part thereof) twice for assessment, either in the same course or in different courses, will be regarded as cheating, and will be dealt with under the disciplinary procedures for plagiarism.

  7. Submission of any piece of work for assessment will be deemed to constitute an acknowledgement that you have read, understood and implemented these guidelines. If your work is plagiarised you will have no defence in a plea of ignorance.

For more detailed advice on avoiding plagiarism, see the University’s information pages, at


3. References

Your essay, paper or dissertation should include both footnote references and a bibliography. Correct referencing of sources is a crucial aspect of good scholarship in history. It also helps you to avoid plagiarism; this important topic is discussed in chapter 2.

There are many conventions for citing sources. It is not essential that you follow the following guidelines exactly, so long as you provide all of the necessary information clearly and consistently. If you are unsure of how to cite materials, however, you should follow the guidelines provided here. They are based on the MHRA Style Guide, which you can consult online at


Footnotes enable the reader to locate the source of specific information to which you refer in the text. The bibliography provides a list of materials you have used in preparing your essay. (Hereafter, advice on the preparation of essays applies equally to papers and dissertations.) All materials mentioned in footnotes should be included in the bibliography. A bibliography, however, may include materials which are not cited in footnotes.

3.1. Footnotes

Correct use of footnote references is an important part of scholarship. A footnote reference enables the reader to verify your evidence or read about the subject in more depth. This is why it is important to give information that is accurate, complete and properly presented.
Footnotes have three main uses:

  • To cite the authority for statements you make in the text, including exact quotations or close paraphrases, published statistics, original arguments or opinions taken from your reading. It is not necessary to cite the authority for generally known facts, for example, ‘The French Revolution began in 1789.’

  • To explain or comment on your text without interrupting it. This is rarely necessary in an essay, and should be kept to a minimum in all writing.

  • For cross-references to other parts of your text; this is normally necessary only in longer works, such as dissertations.

The Subjects of History and Economic and Social History use the short-title system of references. When a work is cited a superscripted number is placed in the text, which points to the numbered reference at the bottom of the page (in a footnote). When a source is used for the first time, full bibliographical details should be listed. If the same source is used again, only the author’s surname and a shortened title should be used. The author-date (or ‘Harvard’) system should not be used; often used by social scientists, the Harvard system places references in brackets in the text.

A footnote reference is indicated in the text by inserting a superscripted number immediately after the passage to which it relates, at the end of the sentence, after the full-stop; there is no space between the full-stop and the number. (Microsoft Word will do this for you when you choose Insert Footnote.)

In an essay, footnotes are numbered in one continuous sequence, starting with 1.5 Use ordinary numerals, not Roman numerals or letters. In longer works, such as dissertations, each chapter should have a new sequence of footnotes. (Footnote references at the bottom of each page are preferable to endnotes at the end of the essay.)

3.2. Forms of Reference

Footnotes should be single spaced. Provide a full reference at the first mention of a source, and a shorter reference if the source is mentioned again. A full reference is also given in the bibliography. There are two main differences between footnote and bibliography references:

  • The author’s initials (or first names) are given before the surname in a footnote. In a bibliography, the author’s surname is listed first, to assist sorting.

  • A footnote reference lists the specific page(s) where the quotation or statement can be found. In a bibliography, the first and final pages of an article (but not a book) are given.

  • Footnotes should always end with a full stop; however, bibliographical references should not.

In essays, you will most often use books, articles and websites, so these are covered here. Styles for other sources, including archival manuscripts, newspapers, official publications, and unpublished theses, are provided in chapter 5, Citing Primary Sources.

3.2.1. Books

Footnotes (first reference) take the form:
Author’s forenames or initials and surname, Title of Book, edition if not the first, number of volumes if more than one (Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication), volume number in roman numerals, page number prefaced by ‘p.’.

Footnotes (subsequent references) take the form:
Surname, Shortened form of title, page number prefaced by ‘p.’.

Bibliography references take the form:
Author’s surname and forenames or initials, Title of Book, edition if not the first, number of volumes if more than one (Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication)

Points to note:

  • The title and author’s name are taken from the title page. The place of publication, publisher, and year of publication are normally shown on the back of the title page. When more than one place of publication is given, use the first.

  • Titles of published books are given in italics (or underlining if you are writing by hand), and without inverted commas.

  • Use the abbreviation ‘pp.’ in place of ‘p.’ if more than one page is cited.

  • The same format is used for an edited book, in which case the abbreviation ‘ed.’ is added (or ‘eds’ if there is more than one).

  • List the names of multiple authors, but if there are more than three authors then name only the first, followed by ‘and others’.

  • The shortened form of the title may be omitted if you are using only one work by the author (note 5).

  • The latinate abbreviation, ‘Ibid.’, meaning ‘in the same place’, may be used to refer to the immediately preceding reference. The page number should also be given, unless it is the same. Do not use other latinate abbreviations, such as ‘op. cit.’ and ‘loc. cit.’

Sample Footnotes

1 Ralf Dahrendorf, Society and Democracy in Germany (New York: Norton, 1979), p. 263.

2 Ian Kershaw, Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris (London: Penguin, 1998), pp. 465-67.

3 A. L. Beier, David Cannadine, and James M. Rosenheim, eds, The First Modern Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989).

4 Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, 2 vols (London: Collins, 1972), i, p. 245.

5 Dahrendorf, p. 265.

6 Kershaw, Hitler, p. 21.

7 Ibid., p. 22. [Ibid. refers here to Kershaw, Hitler]

8 Beier, Cannadine and Rosenheim, p. 11; Dahrendorf, p. 266.

9 Braudel, Mediterranean, i, p. 246.
These items are shown in the Sample Bibliography at the end of this chapter.
3.2.2. Articles in journals

Footnotes (first reference) take the form:
Author’s forenames or initials and surname, ‘Title of article within single inverted commas’, Title of journal, volume number (Year of publication), page number cited, optionally preceded by ‘p.’ or ‘pp.’.

Footnotes (subsequent reference) take the form:
Surname, ‘Shortened form of article title’, page number preceded by ‘p.’ or ‘pp.’.

Bibliography references take the form:
Author’s surname and forenames/initials, ‘Title of article within single inverted commas’, Title of journal, volume number (Year of publication), first-last pages of article
Points to note

  • Journal titles are given in italics and without inverted commas.

  • Article titles are given between single inverted commas, without italics.

  • The volume number is normally given in arabic numerals (e.g. 35).

  • It is not necessary to indicate if you have accessed the journal online, e.g. using JSTOR (do not provide the full web address as recommended by MHRA). You should use the paging from the original paper version, which will be given on the image of each page.

Sample Footnotes

Roger Swift, ‘Urban Policing in Early Victorian England, 1835-86: A Reappraisal’, History 73 (1988), p. 215.

2 Michael Sonenscher, ‘Journeymen, the Courts and the French Trades 1781-1791’, Past & Present 114 (1987), pp. 91-92.

3 Swift, ‘Urban Policing’, p. 215.

4 Ibid. [Another reference to Swift, p. 215]

5 Ibid., p. 214. [Another reference to Swift, but to a different page.]

6 Sonenscher, ‘Journeymen’, pp. 91-92.
These items are shown in the Sample Bibliography at the end of this chapter.

3.2.3. Articles in books

Articles may also appear in edited collections in which each article (or chapter) is written by a different author. These have a hybrid reference format, with features from both book and article formats.
Footnotes (first reference) take the form:
Author’s forenames or initials and surname, ‘Title of article’, in Title of book, ed. editor’s name (Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication), quoted page number(s) prefaced by ‘p.’ or ‘pp.’.

Footnotes (subsequent references) take the form:
Surname, ‘Shortened form of title of article’, quoted page number prefaced by ‘p.’ or ‘pp.’.

Bibliography references take the form:
Author’s surname and forename or initials, ‘Title of article’, in Title of book, ed. forename/initials and surname of editor (Place of publication: Publisher, Year of publication), first-last pages prefaced by ‘pp.’

Sample Footnotes

1 Ian Gentles, ‘The Impact of the New Model Army’, in The Impact of the English Civil War, ed. John Morrill (London: Collins & Brown, 1991), p. 102.

2 R. M. Smuts, ‘Public Ceremony and Royal Charisma: The English Royal Entry in London, 1485-1642’, in The First Modern Society, ed. A. L. Beier, David Cannadine and James M. Rosenheim (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 84-85.

3 Gentles, ‘New Model Army’, p. 105.

4 Smuts, ‘Public Ceremony’, p. 107.
These items are shown in the Sample Bibliography at the end of this chapter.
3.2.4. Edited Texts, Translations and Reprints

Edited texts and translations should be referenced as books, with the name of the editor or translator added after the book title. The year of publication of the edition or translation should be given. In the case of reprinted historical or literary works, give the years of both the reprint and (if known) the original publication.

Sample Footnotes

1 John Locke, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. J. W. Yolton (London: Dent, 1976), p. 112.

2 Fernand Braudel, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, trans. by Siân Reynolds, 2 vols (London: Collins, 1973), i, p. 245.

3 Daniel Defoe, The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719; repr. Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965), p. 34.
These items are shown in the Sample Bibliography at the end of this chapter.

3.2.5. Webpages (Internet sites)

This is a rapidly changing area, about which it is difficult to be dogmatic. The important thing is that you provide a complete address and the date on which you accessed the information, since websites may change over time. In the first footnote reference, include at least the following information:

  • Author’s name, if known (often this will be missing);

  • Title of page, if known, within single inverted commas;

  • Title of website, in italics;

  • Full address (‘URL’) in angle brackets, beginning with ‘http://’

  • Date on which you consulted the page/resource.

  • Location of passage, if this can be easily described.

Give a shortened version in subsequent references, but if using a different page provide the complete address.
In the Bibliography, list the home page of each website, and the last date on which you consulted it. If there is no author, sort by title of website.

Sample Footnotes

1 Edward Higgs, ‘Census Enumerators’ Books’, Online Historical Population Reports [accessed 7 September 2010].

2 ‘Working Lives’, Moving Here [accessed 7 September 2010], para. 2.

3 Higgs, ‘Census Enumerators’ Books’.

4 ‘Working Lives’, para. 4.

3.3. Bibliography

The bibliography at the end of the essay should list all books, articles, websites and other sources you used in preparing your essay. List items in alphabetical order, by the author’s surname for each source. It is conventional to use a hanging indent, so that the reader can move their eye down the list easily. The bibliography should be single-spaced, starting each source on a new line, with an additional blank line between sources.

Sample Bibliography

This bibliography brings together all of the sources from the footnote examples in this chapter. Although you should insert a blank line between items, this has been omitted here to save space. Note how the items are sorted in alphabetical order by name of author (or title, if there is no author).6

Beier, A. L., David Cannadine and James M. Rosenheim, eds, The First Modern Society (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989)
Braudel, Fernand, The Mediterranean and the Mediterranean World in the Age of Philip II, trans. Siân Reynolds, 2 vols (London: Collins, 1973)
Brown, Callum G., ‘Religion and the Development of an Urban Society 1780-1914’ (unpublished PhD thesis, University of Glasgow, 1981)
Dahrendorf, Ralf, Society and Democracy in Germany (New York: Norton, 1979)
Defoe, Daniel, The Life and Adventures of Robinson Crusoe (1719; Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1965)
Gentles, Ian, ‘The Impact of the New Model Army’, in The Impact of the English Civil War, ed. by John Morrill (London: Collins & Brown, 1991), pp. 84-103
Kershaw, Ian, Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris (London, Penguin, 1998)
Locke, John, An Essay Concerning Human Understanding, ed. J. W. Yolton, London: Dent, 1976
Moving Here [accessed 7 September 2010]
Online Historical Population Reports [accessed 7 September 2010]
Smuts, R. M., ‘Public Ceremony and Royal Charisma: The English Royal Entry in London, 1485-1642’, in The First Modern Society, ed. A. L. Beier, David Cannadine and James M. Rosenheim (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1989), pp. 65-94

Sonenscher, Michael, ‘Journeymen, the Courts and the French Trades 1781-1791’, Past & Present, 114 (1987), 77-109

Swift, Roger, ‘Urban Policing in Early Victorian England, 1835-86: A Reappraisal’, History, 73 (1988), 211-237

4. Dissertations
The following chapter is intended for undergraduates and taught MSc/MLitt students who are preparing dissertations. These are usually 10-15,000 words in length. (Check the requirements for your own programme.) These should be distinguished from the much longer written work required for postgraduate research theses, which are normally called ‘theses’; each Faculty has regulations for the presentation of research theses, and research students should consult these guidelines for details on presentation, paper, binding, and the like. The presentation of a dissertation is similar to that of an essay. Only differences are discussed here.7

An honours or Level 3 dissertation must have a title page, table of contents, text and footnotes, and a bibliography. (Examples of these four types of page are provided as an appendix.) It may also have an abstract, preface, acknowledgements or dedication, but these are optional. If present, these should appear between the title page and table of contents. A master’s thesis must have an abstract and a list of any abbreviations used in the footnotes.8 If you include tables, figures or other illustrations, you should provide a List of Illustrations page after the title page, following the same format as the Contents. It is not necessary to include an index.

The dissertation should be adequately bound. Comb-binding is recommended, with a clear cover so that the title page is visible.9 The dissertation does not need to have a hard cover. Honours students should submit ONE copy of their dissertation, along with one copy of the University’s Declaration of Originality Form signed and dated. Master’s students should submit TWO copies of their dissertation, along with one copy of the Declaration of Originality Form.

4.1. Title page

The title page should give, on separate lines, your matriculation number (but not your name), the title, the qualification for which the dissertation is submitted, your subject, ‘University of Glasgow’, and the month and year of submission. If you are a History student, the undergraduate qualification should be MA (Hons); for Economic and Social History students it is MA (Soc Sci) with Honours. It may also include the supervisor’s name. The title page should not be numbered. See the sample title page (based on Economic and Social History) in the Appendix.

4.2. Table of contents

Your dissertation is likely to have several chapters. You should list the numbers and titles of these chapters, along with the page number on which each chapter begins, on a separate page headed ‘Contents’. Pages preceding the beginning of the first chapter or introduction are numbered using roman numerals, i, ii, iii... Pages from the start of the first chapter or introduction should be numbered using arabic numerals, starting with 1, and continuing in one series until the end of the dissertation.10

4.3. Text of dissertation

The dissertation should be presented as an essay, with the following additions:

  • All margins should be at least 1 inch (25 mm). The left margin should be at least 1.5 inches, to leave room for the binding.

  • Each chapter should be numbered and titled, and should start on a new page.

  • The footnote sequence should start at 1 again in each chapter.11
  • Table and Figure sequences also should re-start in each chapter: Table 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, …, and the same for figures.

  • Headings may be used to indicate sections within chapters.

4.4. Bibliography

The Bibliography should be arranged in up to three sections:

  • Manuscript materials (if you have used any). Organise by name and location of record office, listing the documents used there. Use the same format as in footnotes (see chapter 5), but obviously you do not need to repeat the archive name for each document. Omit this section if you did not use manuscripts.

  • Printed primary sources, including collections of letters, newspapers, contemporary pamphlets, and published documents. These should be listed in alphabetical order by author or editor. Follow the guidelines on formatting printed primary sources or for ordinary books (chapters 3 or 5). If you have made extensive use of newspapers, you may wish to list these in a separate section, sorted by title.

  • Secondary works: books, articles, and unpublished theses. These should be listed in alphabetical order, by author’s surname, as in an essay.

5. CITING Primary Sources and theses
Dissertations are expected to be based on research with primary sources, and these should be cited, in addition to any books and articles you have used. You may use one or a number of primary sources, such as manuscripts, newspapers, parliamentary papers and published documents. This chapter provides a guide to referencing primary sources in footnotes.

5.1. Manuscripts

References to manuscripts take numerous forms. When in doubt, you should consult the archive for advice about how to cite the manuscripts they hold. Remember that the principle of citation is to provide the reader with enough information to be able to identify and locate the source, which means that you should provide as much information as possible.

A full citation should be given on the first reference in a footnote, including Name of archive, Name of collection, Reference number, and folio or box number. A title and other descriptive details may also be included, if available, especially if no folio is available (as in note 2). Abbreviations may be used for subsequent references.

1 British Library, Harleian MS 2170, fol. 8.

2 Public Record Office, AIR20/7938, ‘Expansion and Equipment of the Strategic Bomber Force’, VCAS to Air Council, 11 January 1949.

3 PRO, SP 16, vol. 469/54.

4 Glasgow City Archives, DTC/8/16b/25/2, ‘Report of Welfare committee’, May 1947.

5 Sheffield Central Library, Fitzwilliam MS E.209.

5.2. Newspapers

References to articles in newspapers and magazines take the form Author (if known), ‘Title of article’, Title of newspaper, Date of publication, section, page.
6 Jonathan Friedland, ‘Across the Divide’, Guardian, 15 January 2002, section G2, pp. 10-11.

5.3. Published documents

Some published documents are treated as books. Other familiar published series, such as state papers and patent rolls, have customary forms of reference. These may be abbreviated on subsequent reference

7 S. R. Gardiner, ed., The Constitutional Documents of the Puritan Revolution 1625-1660 (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1899), p. 75.

8 Calendar of State Papers Domestic, 1640, p. 634.

9 CSPD, 1698, pp. 430, 434.

5.4. Parliamentary Papers

Many dissertations make use of British Parliamentary Papers (PP), the debates of the Houses of Parliament (Hansard), or official reports published by the Stationery Office (HMSO). These are published in two different formats, and it is necessary to show which you are using when giving references. All forms of referencing require the full title of the paper (sometimes very long), the date of publication, and the command number, always found on the cover in brackets (reproduce exactly the shape of the brackets and the content within).
(a) Volume form. The papers are in a standard size and bound together in volumes. Each paper has its own separate, printed, page numbers, but there is also continuous pagination throughout the volume, usually written in manuscript at the top of the page. This is the format in the copyright libraries, such as the National Library of Scotland, and the microfiche collection in GUL.

A reference to a (fictitious) paper should look like this:

PP 1934 (354) XVIII, Report to the Board of Trade on Fair-Isle jumper production, pp. 44-67.

  • 1934 is the publication date

  • (354) is the command number

  • XVIII is the volume number

  • pp. 44-67 are the page numbers

(b) HMSO publications, as sold to the public. These are the same papers, but in non-standard sizes, and not bound together in volumes. Their printed page numbers may be quite different from the pages of the volume series. These papers are found on the open shelves in the University of Glasgow, and in the Mitchell Library.

If you were using the unbound Command papers, your reference would read:
PP, Report to the Board of Trade on Fair-Isle jumper production, HMSO 1934 (354) — and printed page number.
(c) You may also find, in a number of libraries, modern reprints of 19th-century Parliamentary papers, published by the Irish University Press. These are in volume form, but papers in them are collected together according to subject, e.g. factory legislation.

5.5. Unpublished theses

Unpublished theses are not primary sources, but since you are more likely to use them if you are preparing a dissertation than an essay, they are discussed here. References to unpublished theses take the form Author, ‘Title of thesis’ (degree, university, year), page number preceded by ‘p.’ An abbreviated form, as for articles and books, is be used in subsequent references.
10 Callum G. Brown, ‘Religion and the Development of an Urban Society 1780-1914’ (unpublished PhD thesis, University of Glasgow, 1981), p. 42.

11 Brown, ‘Religion’, p. 89.

5.6. Oral History

You must obtain ethical permission from the College before doing oral history interviews, so you should always consult your supervisor before beginning an oral project. Whenever you obtain oral information, you must find out in advance whether your informant wishes to remain anonymous, and respect this scrupulously. All interviewees must sign a consent form, indicating that they know what use you intend to make of their information, and where it will ultimately be stored. Tapes, written reports, etc., should be coded as 'Mr A.S.', 'Mrs J.T.' , unless permission is given to use the subjects’ names. Your ethical procedures must be submitted to your subject for approval before you can proceed with oral history: please leave plenty of time to do this.

Oral information should also have footnotes, giving full name of the informant if this has been agreed, e.g. 'Information from Mr A.S. Taylor', or if anonymity is necessary, 'Information from Mrs T.' If possible, include the date of the interview.
See the Arts or Social Sciences ethics guidelines, as appropriate, for more guidance: http://www.gla.ac.uk/faculties/arts/research/ethics/ or http://www.gla.ac.uk/faculties/lbss/research/ethics/

1. Mock Essay with Footnotes
The following extract from a mock essay shows how to cite sources.
(1) A quotation from a book, indicated by inverted commas. Note how the quotation (which is only part of the original sentence) is introduced.

(2) An example of the kind of detailed evidence whose source might help the reader assess it. (As often happens, the sentence also paraphrases Hay’s article, so a footnote is doubly necessary.)

John Brewer and John Styles argue that ‘the notion of “the rule of law” was central to seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Englishmen’s understanding of what was both special and laudable about their political system’.1 This did not prevent the criminal law from being the focus for conflict between rich and poor. Propertied Englishmen were protected by a growing amount of legislation punishing thieves with death. A recent study found that the number of capital statutes rose from 50 to over 200 between 1680 and 1800.2 Some historians have argued that the poor made heroes of smugglers, poachers and others who broke the law. Highwaymen were romanticized as gentlemen of the road, according to Roy Porter, and smugglers were admired because excise-men were hated.3

(3) Although a few words have been changed from Porter’s sentence, the source of this paraphrase should be acknowledged. (The original reads ‘Highwaymen were romanticized, with a hidden irony, as "gentlemen of the road", smugglers fêted because excise-men were hated …’.)

1. John Brewer and John Styles, eds, An Ungovernable People (London: Hutchinson,1980), p. 14.

2. Douglas Hay, ‘Property, Authority and the Criminal Law’, in Albion’s Fatal Tree (New York: Pantheon, 1975), p. 18.

3. Roy Porter, English Society in the Eighteenth Century (Harmondsworth: Penguin, 1982), pp. 114-15.

Title page

Student no.

Title of Dissertation

Supervisor’s Name

Submitted for MA (Soc Sci) with Honours

Economic and Social History

University of Glasgow

January 2011


1. introduction

Text text text text text. Text text text text text text text. Text text text text text text. Text text text text text text. Text text text text text text text text.1

Text text text text text text text. Text text text text text text text. Text text text text text text text. Text text text text text text text text. Text text text


1. Ralf Dahrendorf, Society and Democracy in Germany (New York: Norton, 1979), p. 11.
Table of contents

1. Introduction 1

2. The story unfolds 5
3. Hither and yon 10
4. Conclusion 15
Bibliography 18

Note: This example is merely illustrative. The number and length of chapters will vary.



Primary Sources
PP 1934 (354) XVIII, Report to the Board of Trade on Fair-Isle jumper production
Secondary Sources
Dahrendorf, Ralf, Society and Democracy in Germany (New York: Norton, 1979)

Kershaw, Ian, Hitler, 1889-1936: Hubris (London: Penguin, 1998)

Sonenscher, Michael, ‘Journeymen, the Courts and the French Trades 1781-1791’, Past & Present 114 (1987), 77-109

Swift, Roger, ‘Urban Policing in Early Victorian England, 1835-86: A Reappraisal’, History 73 (1988), 211-37


1 The MHRA recommends that square brackets be used around an ellipsis, so ‘[…]’, but you may omit the brackets. MHRA Style Guide (London, Modern Humanities Research Association, 2002), p. 22.

2 J. Earle, Micro-cosmographie (London, 1628), p. 28, reprinted in English Reprints, ed. E. Arber (London, 1869).

3 Dissertations should re-start each sequence at the beginning of each chapter, so Table 1.1, 1.2, 2.1, …, and the same for figures.

4 MHRA Style Guide esp. chapters 9 and 10. The Guide also includes detailed discussions of spelling, abbreviations, and punctuation. You may safely ignore ch. 1, ‘Preparing Material for Publication’.

5 Word-processing software will insert the next available number and start the footnote for you, so you do not need to keep track of the numbers yourself.

6 Microsoft Word 2000 will select paragraphs in alphabetical order, using Table/Sort.

7 For more details, see MHRA Style Guide, chapter 12.

8 An abstract is a short (100-300 word) summary, intended to tell the potential reader enough about the argument, methodology and context to know whether it is worth reading the rest of the dissertation. Journal articles also often have abstracts at the start, and these can provide examples of how to write abstracts.

9 The binding can be done at the Glasgow University Print Unit, James Watt (South) Building, University Avenue, Glasgow G12 8QQ, Tel. 0141-330-4261, email: print.enquiries@gla.ac.uk.

10 In Microsoft Word, insert a section break to change the header and footer. View the footer (or header), insert the page number, and choose Format Page Number to select arabic or roman numerals, and to re-start page numbering at 1 or another number.

11 This is achieved most easily by placing each chapter in a separate file.


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