Citations (Evidence Style)

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One citation style used by genealogical and historical researchers is Evidence Style, developed by Elizabeth Shown Mills.[1] It is an extension of the notes/bibliography system from The Chicago Manual of Style.[2] The Chicago Manual of Style gives many examples of citations for different published sources. It provides little guidance for the many different types of manuscript sources used by genealogists and the many different ways archives organize those sources. It provides almost no information regarding derivative sources.[3] Evidence Style follows Chicago's general framework but adapts and extends it, with many examples of various manuscript sources, archival arrangements, and derivatives. Evidence Style helps genealogists capture all the information that is necessary to relocate a source, evaluate its quality, and, optimally, find the original from which it was derived.

The Basics[edit | edit source]

Contrary to the terminology used by Personal Ancestral File (PAF) and some other genealogy programs, both Evidence and Chicago Styles, define a source as a document, register, publication, film, artifact, website, or person that supplies information. A citation is the entire textual reference to the source.[4]

In Evidence and Chicago Styles, there are four types of citations:

  1. Source list. (Chicago calls this a bibliography.) Each citation—called a source list entry—is punctuated as if it were a paragraph and each citation element were a sentence. Published works are sorted by the last name of the author. To effectively organize the source list, Evidence Style allows considerable latitude in the arrangement of unpublished works. Examples in this article illustrate ordering unpublished works geographically. However, elements of the source list entry can be reordered to reflect other organization schemes when appropriate. One source list entry will often underpin multiple reference notes. Therefore, the source list entry excludes the more detailed citation elements present in the notes. For example, page numbers for books and manuscript volumes would be present in notes but not the source list entry.[5]
  2. First reference note. Both Evidence and Chicago allows either footnotes or endnotes and use the term reference notes, or simply notes to speak of both. Each note is punctuated as if it were a sentence containing a list of citation elements. As with any list, commas are the basic punctuation used to separate the elements. If commas within elements make the list ambiguous, then semicolons are used to separate the elements. Parentheses typically surround publication data (place, publisher and date). In Evidence Style, this convention is applied to both print works and online works.[6]
  3. Subsequent note. In the final draft of a narrative, after the first reference to a source, it is not necessary to duplicate a complete citation in subsequent notes. In fact, abbreviating subsequent citations in a published work makes notes more understandable and signals source reuse. The abbreviated style of subsequent notes should be applied only at the time of publication, because the order of notes can change as a manuscript is revised. You should always enter complete citations in genealogical records. If you never develop a manuscript for publication, then you can safely ignore the "subsequent note" format.[7]
  4. Source label. This is the citation that should appear in the margin, on the front of all photocopies and prints of original records; it should also accompany all transcriptions and abstracts. Evidence Style does not dictate whether the researcher format a label as a Source List Entry or a Reference Note. Suffice it to say, the citation should be complete in case the page is shared independently of other documents.[8]

Examples[edit | edit source]

Some examples are shown with each citation element labeled. Don't forget to include the punctuation at the end of each element. Some examples are shown as they normally appear, except for indenting. The numbers 1 and 11 are illustrative only and are used for the first reference note and subsequent reference note, respectively.

Published Works[edit | edit source]

Simple Book[9][edit | edit source]

Source List
Creator (Author) Mills, Elizabeth Shown.
Title Evidence Explained:
Subtitle Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace.
Place of publication Baltimore:
Publisher Genealogical Publishing Company,
Year of publication 2007.
First Reference Note
Creator (Author) Elizabeth Shown Mills,
Title Evidence Explained:
Subtitle Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace
Place of publication (Baltimore:
Publisher Genealogical Publishing Company,
Year of publication 2007),
Page 42.

Multiple authors[10]
[edit | edit source]

Source List Clemensson Per and Kjell Andersson. Your Swedish Roots: A Step by Step Handbook. Provo, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 2004.
First Reference Note 1. Per Clemensson and Kjell Andersson, Your Swedish Roots: A Step by Step Handbook (Provo, Utah: Ancestry Publishing, 2004), 115.
Subsequent Note 11. Clemensson and Andersson, Your Swedish Roots, 115.

Editor instead of author[edit | edit source]

Source List insert source list example
First Reference Note 2. insert 1st ref note example
Subsequent Note 12. insert subsequent note example

Revised edition[11][edit | edit source]

Source List Leary, Helen F. M., editor. North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History. Second edition. Raleigh:[12] North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996.
First Reference Note 3. Helen F. M. Leary, editor, North Carolina Research: Genealogy and Local History, 2d ed. (Raleigh:[12] North Carolina Genealogical Society, 1996), 3-16.
Subsequent Note 13. Leary, North Carolina Research, 3-16.

Journal article[13][edit | edit source]

This example is online. For a paper source, leave off the elements starting with "online archives." No change is required for the short note.

Source List Waters, Henry F. Waters. "Genealogical Gleanings in England." The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 49 (January 1895). Online archives. Google Books. 2010.
First Reference Note 4. Henry F. Waters, "Genealogical Gleanings in England," The New England Historical and Genealogical Register 49 (January 1895): 136; online archives, Google Books ( accessed 4 January 2010).
Subsequent Note 14. Waters, "Genealogical Gleanings in England," 136.

FamilySearch Sources[edit | edit source]

Historical Books[edit | edit source]

Source List
Raymond, Samuel,
Creator's role[14] compiler.
Title Genealogies of the Raymond families of New England, 1630-1 to 1886:
Subtitle[15] With a Historical Sketch of Some of the Raymonds of Early Times.
Place of publication New York:
Publisher J. J. Little and Co.,
Date (of publication) 1886.
Item type or format Digital images.
Creator FamilySearch and Brigham Young University.
Title Family History Archives.
Place of publication
Date (of access) 2009.
First Reference Note
Creator Samuel Raymond,
Creator's role[17] compiler,
Title Genealogies of the Raymond families of New England, 1630-1 to 1886:
Subtitle[18] With a Historical Sketch of Some of the Raymonds of Early Times,
Place of publication (New York:
Publisher J. J. Little and Co.,
Year of publication 1886),
Page 143
Item type or format
digital images,
Creator FamilySearch and Brigham Young University,
Title Family History Archives
Place of publication (
Date (of access) accessed 10 September 2009),
Notes (optional)
reference URL is Also for broken links Add in its place the following replacing the 76851 with the IE number you found in the permanent link on the digital image page: [The history and genealogy of the families of Mary Catherine Adams (1920- ) and Lionel Raymon Brothers (1904-1991) FamilySearch Digital Library].

FamilySearch Family Tree[edit | edit source]

FamilySearch, "The Family Tree," database, FamilySearch ( : accessed 10 March 2017), Margaret Quintin Shaw (9WSK-R66), Memories.

Record Search Collection[edit | edit source]

insert example here

Citation Principles[edit | edit source]

It can be difficult to construct a citation when no matching example is given unless you know the underlying citation principles. Users of Evidence Style can find, in Evidence Explained, a synopsis of all principles common to historical research and writing as well as guidance on issues peculiar to specific types of records.

Differences from Chicago Manual of Style[edit | edit source]

Differences between Evidence Style and Chicago Style may be considered acceptable alternatives, improved practice, or minor deviations.The major difference in the two guides is this:

Evidence Style is designed for researchers to use at input stage; therefore, it helps users capture all information about a source that may be needed to subsequently identify it and to evaluate the reliability of that source. Chicago Style reflect parameters designed by a publishing house for editors and writers seeking publication; therefore, it focuses upon the output stage at which citations are pared to the minimum required to relocate a source.

Other minor differences include the following:

  • Evidence Style italicizes series titles if, in common usage, it "is considered a formal title for [the] set of materials." (Example: the series Pennsylvania Archives, which is composed of many different volumes carrying widely different titles.[19] Chicago, which never italicizes a series title, does not address this issue.[20]
  • "Evidence Style identifies [periodical] issues by their dates rather than issue numbers, because unrecognized typing errors are more common with numbers than with words."[21] Chicago allows either, but recognizes that "although not all these elements may be required to locate an article, furnishing them all provides a hedge against possible error in one or another of them."[22]
  • Evidence Style is more cautious in the use of abbreviations. Because historical researchers use records across wide time frames;in which place-name abbreviations change, because family historians use records for many countries whose proper abbreviations may not be widely known, and because "abbreviations rarely save a significant amount of space, the thoughtful writer avoids all but the truly obvious ones."[23] In general, Evidence Style spells out the names of states and references to political jurisdictions ("county," "parish," etc.) in the first citation to a source, but allows abbreviations in shortened subsequent citations to the same source.[24] Both Evidence and Chicago agree that (in Chicago's words), "If the city of publication may be unknown to readers or may be confused with another city of the same name, ... the state, province, or (sometimes) country is added." However, Chicago recommends that the state, province, or country name be abbreviated.[25]
  • Evidence Style allows an optional space after the colon separating volume and page numbers.[26] CMS, on the other hand, specifies that no space be present. "But when parenthetical information intervenes,"[27] such as "12 (Winter): 345" then a space after the colon is required for clarity.
  • Websites are cited analogously to print publications.

[edit | edit source]

  1. See Elizabeth Shown Mills, Evidence Explained: Citing History Sources from Artifacts to Cyberspace, 3d ed. (Baltimore, Maryland: Genealogical Publishing, 2015).
  2. The Chicago Manual of Style, 16th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010).
  3. The "quoted in" section on p. 764 of the 16th ed. is the sole example.
  4. Mills, Evidence Explained, 820 ("citation") and 828 ("primary source"). Also note this quote from p. 42: "The term citation is not synonymous with the term source, and the two should not be used interchangeably."
  5. Mills, Evidence Explained, 43, 60-1, 67-71.
  6. Mills, Evidence Explained, 43, 46, 60, 77, 86-7.
  7. Mills, Evidence Explained, 46, 62, 64-6.
  8. Mills, Evidence Explained, 43, 66-7.
  9. Mills, Evidence Explained, 646.
  10. Mills, Evidence Explained, 669-70.
  11. Mills, Evidence Explained, 649.
  12. 12.0 12.1 The state was excluded here because it is present in the title and publisher's name. See Mills, Evidence Explained, 806-7. See pp. 221-2 for another instance where state name can be excluded.
  13. Mills, Evidence Explained, 779-780, 791-8.
  14. Mills, Evidence Explained, 666.
  15. Mills, Evidence Explained, 80; in this example the subtitle was truncated so ellipses are not necessary.
  16. 16.0 16.1 QuickSheet, Citing Online Historical Resources, Evidence! Style 1st rev. ed., 4 page pamphlet (Baltimore: Genealogical Publishing Co., 2007), 2.
  17. Mills, Evidence Explained, 666.
  18. Mills, Evidence Explained, 80; in this example the subtitle was truncated so ellipses are not necessary.
  19. Mills, Evidence Explained, 716.
  20. CMS 15th ed., 669.
  21. Mills, Evidence Explained, 794.
  22. CMS 15th ed., 690.
  23. Mills, Evidence Explained, 71.
  24. See "Cooperstown, New York" on p. 98 of Evidence Explained.
  25. Chicago Manual of Style 15th ed., 672.
  26. Mills, Evidence Explained, 77.
  27. CMS 15th ed., 692.