Skip to Main Content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
Yale Library COVID-19 updates.

Guide to Using Special Collections at Yale University: Citation Guidelines


These guidelines are based on the 17th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS17), which is a standard used in much academic writing in the various fields within the Humanities. Members of the Yale community who are using a computer on campus or are logged in using the Yale VPN can access the CMOS17 online using this link to the Orbis record. These guidelines are focused on using footnotes or endnotes and a bibliography to cite sources used, and are based solely on the guidance contained in Chapter 14: Notes and Bibliography of CMOS17. If you need assistance with other common academic citation styles, such as MLA Style (Modern Language Association) or APA Style (American Psychological Association), please consult the Principles of Citing Sources resource maintained by Yale's Poorvu Center for Teaching and Learning.

The following information is meant to inform, not dictate, citation of special collections materials using CMOS17 guidelines. Maintaining a consistent style in citations within a single work (i.e., your intellectual output) is an important, over-arching goal in writing, especially if you find a need to introduce "logical and defensible variations on the style" into the citations given in your work (CMOS17, 14.4). Remember that the key factor is not slavish adherence to the citation style, but rather "provid[ing] sufficient information either to lead readers directly to the sources consulted or, for materials that may not be readily available, to enable readers to positively identify them, regardless of whether the sources are published or  unpublished, or in printed or electronic form" (CMOS17, 14.1).

The CMOS17 guidelines below are organized in two sections and provide Yale-related examples. The first section, "Bibliography vs. Footnotes/Endnotes," focuses on the basics of citations and uses published materials as examples. The second section, "Considerations for Citing Materials from Archival Collections and Online Sources," uses a wider array of examples, also primarily from Yale collections and licensed databases.

Note that when citing widely available publications, you typically do not cite the repository that holds the material. One exception to this is when the analysis or argument in your work engages copy-specific features of a publication, such as hand-written annotations on, or materials tipped into a particular copy of the publication by someone who owned or used the publication. In these cases it is important to cite the repository holding the specific copy containing features that are central to your scholarly output. For materials found in an archival collection, citation of the repository holding the collection and the specific location of the cited material within the collection is a key element of an adequate citation. For materials found online, whether on the open web or in locally licensed databases, providing a uniform identifier, such as a Uniform Resource Locator (URL) or Digital Object Identifier (DOI), that will lead readers of your work to the resource cited. This is covered in much greater detail in CMOS17, 14.6-14.18)


Chicago Manual of Style Citation Advice and Yale-Specific Examples

Bibliography vs. Footnotes/Endnotes ("Notes" in CMOS17, Chapter 14)

Notes (both foot and end) are typically numbered, corresponding to superscript numerical references in the text, and are styled similar to the text itself, with elements separated by commas or parentheses and names given in normal order. Bibliography citations are listed alphabetically, so the name of a first author is inverted (last name first) and elements are separated by periods. Bibliography entries do not typically include specific page references for a published work (exception: the page range of an article or chapter in a larger work should be included), or physical location information within an archival collection (e.g., boxes and folders); specific page references and specific item locations should be included in footnotes. Note that CMOS17 discourages the older-style use of 3 em-dashes (———) in lieu of an author's name in bibliographies where two or more works by the same author are cited; for the sake of clarity repeat the author's name in each bibliography citation and sort the entries alphabetically, with all single-authored references for that author preceding those involving more than one author (CMOS17, 15.67). See CMOS17, 14.20 for more on the basic structure of a note, and 14.21 for more on the basic structure of a bibliography entry.

Note style example: 1. Brooks Mather Kelley, Yale: A History (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974), 116-117.

Bibliography style example: Kelley, Brooks Mather. Yale: A History. New Haven: Yale University Press, 1974.

Most academic works include both a bibliography and either footnotes or endnotes. When this is the case, the full citation for a work referenced or quoted from should appear in the bibliography. A short form can be used in citations in the notes, because the notes do not need to duplicate the full citation in the bibliography (CMOS17, 14.19). Typically the short form includes the author's last name, a shortened title, and the page reference (CMOS17, 14.30). Only the last name of the author is used in the short form citation, unless additional initials are needed to distinguish between authors with the same last name; if there are two authors, use both last names; if there are three or more authors use the first author's last name followed by et al. (CMOS17, 14.32). Presentation of the title (e.g., in italics, in quotation marks) should mirror the presentation of the full title in the bibliography or prior note; if the full title is four words or less, use the entire title in the short form (CMOS17, 14.33). The short form citation used in the notes must include enough information so that a reader of your work can unambiguously identify the entry in the bibliography to which it corresponds. Note that CMOS17 discourages the use of the older-style Latin abbreviations ibid. and op. cit. in favor of the clarity of short-form citations.

Bibliography examples: 

Chauncey, Henry, Jr., John T. Hill, and Thomas Strong. May Day at Yale, 1970: Recollections: the Trial of Bobby Seale and the Black Panthers. Westport, CT: Perspecta Press, 2015.

Jeffers, Robinson. Granite & Cypress: Rubbings from the Rock. Santa Cruz: Lime Kiln Press, 1975.

Robin, Corey, and Michelle Stephens. "Against the Grain: Organizing TAs at Yale." Social Text 49, 14, no. 4 (Winter 1996): 43-73.

Note (short form) examples: 

1. Chauncey et al., May Day, 107. 

2. Robin and Stephens, "Against the Grain," 52.

3. Jeffers, Granite & Cypress, 15.

If you are not including a bibliography in your work, and are relying solely on notes for your citations, you must fully cite a work referenced or quoted from in the first note related to it. Subsequent notes referencing it can then use a short-form citation (CMOS17, 14.19).

Notes only (no bibliography) examples:

1. Martha Lund Smalley, ed., American Missionary Eyewitnesses to the Nanking Massacre, 1937-1938 (New Haven: Yale Divinity School Library, 1997), 23-24.

2. Smalley, American Missionary, 32.


Considerations for Citing Materials from Archival Collections and Online Sources


Preferred Citations for Yale Special Collections Repositories

Use the following form of each repository's name in formulating your citations to materials from Yale's special collections:

Arts Library Special Collections 

  • Special Collections, Robert B. Haas Family Arts Library, Yale University.

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library 

  • Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University.
  • Or in some cases credit a Beinecke collection before the library's citation - see the bottom of the Beinecke's "Copyright Questions" page for more information.

Divinity Special Collections

  • Special Collections, Yale Divinity School Library.

Law Library Rare Book Collection

  • Rare Book Collection, Lillian Goldman Law Library, Yale Law School.

Lewis Walpole Library

  • The Lewis Walpole Library, Yale University.

Manuscripts and Archives

  • Manuscripts and Archives, Yale University Library.

Medical Historical Library

  • Medical Historical Library, Harvey Cushing/John Hay Whitney Medical Library.

Music Library Special Collections

  • Irving S. Gilmore Music Library, Yale University.

Yale Center for British Art

  • Yale Center for British Art, Institutional Archives.
  • Yale Center for British Art, Rare Books and Manuscripts.

Useful CMOS17 Chapter 14 Ranges

See the following sections of CMOS17 for additional guidance on specific portions or types of citations.

  • For formatting of author names: Chapters 14.72 through 14.84.
  • For formatting of titles: Chapters 14.85-14.99.
  • For citing a book:
    • General guidance: Chapters 14.100 through 14.102.
    • With editors, translators, and other contributors: Chapters 14.103 through 14.105.
    • With chapter, edition, volume, or series information: Chapters 14.106 through 14.126.
    • Facts concerning publication: Chapters 14.127 through 14.146.
    • Citing ebooks: Chapters 14.159 through 14.163.