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Style Guide

Foreign Bodies HI3H7 Dissertation and Long Essay Style Guide

As you all know, the Department of History has a style guide that covers most of the questions you will have about how to format summative work like long essays and dissertations. I’ve pasted the link here:

 Please check this advice first, and follow these guidelines for every type of source that they cover.

Please remember that for this module, you will need to submit your summative work in hard-copy, 12 pt font, and double spaced, to my office AS WELL AS TO TABULA. If your print credit for this additional cost has not yet come through, please notify me.

Note that the time at which your essay is received by Tabula will count as the official time submitted. Try not to submit your work in the last hour before the official deadline -- in previous years, high volume of traffic at this time has caused Tabula slow-downs and glitches, which might prevent you from meeting the deadline if you leave it to the very last minute!

Common Errors

There are a few things that go wrong VERY OFTEN in student essays that I just want to draw your attention to here. Beware of these more tricky points:

First (and the place where I find mistakes most often!): How do I cite chapters in an edited collection correctly?

Here it is essential that your citation includes the information for the specific essay you read as well as the volume as a whole. So you need to include the author’s name, article title, and inclusive page number range for each chapter of the book from which you draw (and the specific page number for anything you quote) as well as the editors’ names, title of the edited volume, and publication data of the edited volume the first time you cite the essay. Note that for subsequent references to the same edited volume, even if to a DIFFERENT chapter in it, you can use the short form information (editors’ names and short title) for the whole edited volume.

First reference:

Jane Seymour, ‘Not rights but reciprocal responsibility: the rhetoric of state health provision in early twentieth century Britain’, in Alex Mold and David Reubi (eds), Assembling Health Rights in Global Context: Genealogies and Anthropologies (Abingdon: Routledge, 2013), pp. 23–41.


Charles Webster, 'Government Policy on School Meals and Welfare Foods, 1939-1970’, in David F. Smith, ed., Nutrition in Britain: Science, Scientists and Politics in the Twentieth Century (London: Routledge, 1997) pp. 190-213.


Subsequent references:

Webster, ‘Government Policy on School Meals’, p. 191.

A.N. Other, ‘Some Other Full Title’, in Smith, ed., Nutrition in Britain, pp. 214-230.



Second (and also a very common site for inadvertent errors -- these can be costly as they can easily shade into poor scholarship or even plagiarism): what do you do when you are quoting a primary source that you have found QUOTED in a secondary source you have read?

Here, you MUST include full information about BOTH sources in your first footnote. So you need to include the author, title, publication information, and date of publication for the primary source and then explicitly note that it was quoted in the secondary work, cited as normal, including a page number for the page on which you found the quote. For example, in a recent article, I quoted from an archival document held by the California State Archive that I found quoted in an article published by another scholar in the New Yorker magazine, which I accessed online. This is what the footnote looked like:


California State Archives, C134, Leone Baxter and Clem Whitaker, ‘Plan of Campaign’ c. 1949, quoted in Jill Lepore, ‘The Lie Factory’, New Yorker, 25 September 2012, accessed at, 9 December 2018.


You will see that I have only a collection number (not a piece number) for the source, AND that since I read the article online, it had no page numbers. This is ok: if the information does not exist in the source in which YOU read the primary source that you want to quote, you need not (and indeed should not) make it up! If Lepore had included the piece number, not just the document title, and if the online New Yorker had included page numbers, I would have put both of those pieces of information into my footnote.


What if I am using a primary source that exists as a physical book/pamphlet/manuscript but that I accessed via a digital repository online (this will definitely come up for many of you)?

Here, you cite it just the way you would if you had read the original in hard-copy, not online BUT you add to your first footnote a reference to the digital collection you used. You should use just the home page for the collection or sub-collection you used, rather than the (very lengthy!) full address for the exact page of the document. The reason it is important to do this is both that this will allow your readers to find and look at the original themselves, AND because it will assure your readers that you have indeed accessed the original document, and are not quoting from a section of it that you yourself found in a secondary source (see above). So in a recent article, I quoted from a Medical Officer of Health report digitised by the Wellcome Library as part of their digital archive ‘London’s Pulse: Medical Officer of Health Reports, 1848-1972’. I cited it as below:


J. A. Scott, Report of the County Medical Officer of Health for London County Council and Principal School Medical Officer, 1956, pp. 107-108 at 107, digital resource, Wellcome Library, ‘London’s Pulse: Medical Officer of Health Reports 1848-1972’ and accessed on 19 February 2018 [hereafter, ‘London’s Pulse’]


The next time I cited a different report from this collection, the footnote looked like this:

Andrew M. Forrest, Borough of Leyton Health Report for the Year 1951, p.102. London’s Pulse.

Subsequent citations from that same report looked like this:

Forrest, Borough of Leyton Health Report 1951, p. 103.


Finally, in your bibliography, include a citation for that digital repository, comprising its name and URL, and the latest date that you accessed it.


What about the digital newspaper collections? I am going to use those throughout my dissertation/essay!

In your footnotes, just cite the newspaper or magazine exactly as if you had read it in the original hard copy BUT in your Bibliography, you should cite each of the historical newspaper databases that you used.

Journalist's name (if there is a named author), 'Article Title', Newspaper Title, (Day Month Year), p. page number if available.


Citing Archival and other Primary Sources

Since we do so much work with primary sources in this module, you may find that there are some kinds of sources for which the History Department advice is insufficient. I have used student questions from past years to pull together advice for you on how to cite the more quirky or unusual sources you may use both in your footnotes and in your bibliographies.


How do I cite digitised primary sources from physical paper archives?

I’ve addressed this above, but generically, you can work to this format:


Name of the Archive [abbreviation of the Archive Name that you can then use in all subsequent footnotes], File or reference number, Author/Creator of the piece of material if this is known, 'Name of the piece of material' if there is one, Date the piece of material was created.


The National Archives, London [TNA] MH148/37 A. E. Troop, ‘Commonwealth Immigrants Act, 1962, Refusal of Admission Report’, 12 September 1963. Accessed at 2 January 2018.


You will see both here and above that I have put in the main home page of the archive, not the very long specific address of the individual file -- that is because the main home page will be the most stable referent, and then a scholar who wanted to find the document could 'drill down'.


How do I cite material from digital-only archives?

If the material is in a digital archive that has no physical home, then do this:


Name of content creator where one is listed, 'title of the content' (use the name of the page if there is no explicit title. If there is no page title and the content is a picture, give a short description of the picture, e.g. ‘Photo of migrant being sprayed with powder’), Date the content was originally produced (if known; approximate if there is no date, e.g. 'n.d. but circa 1946'), website homepage where you discovered it, and date you accessed it. See below:


Department of Health, ‘Choosing Health? A Consultation on Action to Improve People’s Health, HM Government, 3 March 2004, accessed at
29 March 2018.


Geo. Salter & Co. Ltd., ‘The Modern Way is to Weigh Every Day’, 1960, various publications,

(accessed 31 July 2013).



If I am referencing a specific passage from a legal act, for instance, the Aliens Act 1905, or Commonwealth Immigrants Act 1962, how do I reference these? I've found them on Proquest but do I just need to write 'Aliens Act, 1905' or something else? (actual student question)

You should cite the full title of the primary legislation and the place you accessed it (e.g. a government website, or online Hansards, or the Parliamentary Papers database):


National Health Service and Community Care Act 1990 (London: The Stationery Office, 1990), p. 14, accessed at, 12 March 2018.



How should I cite material from parliamentary debates as published in Hansards? (actual student question)

This is a tough one, and there are lots of different formats out there. I prefer to give as much information as possible, so my style includes the name of the speaker (if I am quoting a speaker), the name of the debate, the date of the debate, the volume number, the column numbers covered by the whole debate, and if I am quoting, the column number of the quote I have used. If you are just talking about the whole debate, you can leave out the speaker’s name, but do include the full range of column numbers covered by the printed debate. Remember to include a reference to the relevant digital database in your bibliography.


First reference

Henry Hopkins, ‘Colonial Immigrants’, Hansard House of Commons [HC] Debates 05 November 1954 vol. 532 cc821-32 at 827-8.


Note that you should identify whether debates are House of Commons or House of Lords, but you can abbreviate these two items after the first time of use as HC or HL, provided you note (as I have above) that you will be doing this in a bracket.


Subsequent citation:

Hopkins, ‘Colonial Immigrants’, cc. 827.


John Smith, ‘Name of Debate’, HC Debates, date of debate, vol. number, cc. range, at number.


How do I cite a newspaper that I have retrieved digitally from a library’s archive? (actual student question)

As with all the big historical newspaper digital databases, you can cite the newspaper just as you would if you had accessed it physically, BUT noting only in the first footnote reference that you accessed them via the particular library’s newspaper collections (e.g. the British Library’s).

[Journalist's name], [article title], Newspaper Title, [article date], page number if available, accessed via the British Library digital newspapers database [URL if available].



How do I cite materials from the Modern Records Centre? (actual –frequent! --student question)


Modern Records Centre, University of Warwick [MRC], file reference number, author of document, document title or description, document date, page numbers if applicable.


How do I cite a film/television series/episode in a television series/newsbroadcast?

This is another one of those tricky ones, where there is not yet a fully standard format: I follow the model:

Name of Director, ‘Title of TV Programme’, Channel number/Name, date of broadcast, source of broadcast that I accessed, date accessed if a website.

James Burke, ‘Something for nothing: a birthday celebration’, BBC 1, 27 June, 1968. at 07.14-07.34, accessed 01/02/2016.


For a TV series, I use much the same approach:

Director of Episode, ‘Episode Title’, Title of TV Series, Channel number/Name, date of broadcast, source of accessed episode, date accessed if a website (e.g. YouTube).


Films follow another relatively similar model:

Film Director, Name of Film, Place of Production: Production Company, year of release.

How do I cite my own oral history interview? (And should I submit a copy with the dissertation?) (actual student question):

You should cite the interview as below:

, interviewed by author, [date of interview].


If you have recorded the interview, you may also cite the location on the recording (usually by hour, minute and second) of the material you are describing or citing. If you have transcribed the interviews, you may alternatively cite the page of the transcript.


You do NOT need to include your interviews/transcripts with the dissertation, but you should keep them and be ready to make them available (along with the consent forms) if they are requested during the marking process. You may -- if you wish and if your interviewees have consented to this – include the interview transcripts as an Appendix to your dissertation if you feel this is NECESSARY. Discuss this with me first, if only to save paper!


How do I cite Twitter? (actual student question):

This is a new one, so I am adapting the model generated by the Institute of Education accessed here on 14 January 2019:

In-text citation:

Stephen Fry, ‘Tweeted messages of support’, 13 January 2012, accessed 18 December 2012.

Reference list:

[Tweep’s Name, last name first], [‘Brief Descriptor of the tweet’], [date of tweet]. Available at (Accessed 18 December 2012).



How do I refer to material I have put into an appendix that I am including with my dissertation (actual student question):

In the text, put '(see Appendix, Figure/Table 1)' (or whatever figure/table number it is) where you want to discuss the image/data. Then generate a word document for the Appendix, and stick each picture in it. Either above or below each image/table, compose a caption that includes the figure number, and the reference material for each image/table.



Citations for Secondary Sources

Most of these will be covered in the Warwick Style Guide – see link above. One question I do get more and more often is about how to cite journal articles, e-books, or e-chapters that you have found online. I prefer that you cite them exactly as you would if you read them on paper, BUT that you include a citation to each of the relevant databases (e.g. JSTOR, Project MUSE, Sage online, etc.) in your bibliography as described below.


Other formatting questions:


Should I include a table of contents?

Feel free to include one if it doesn't add too much to your word count (remembering that titles and subtitles inside the dissertation also count towards your word count), but it is a 'luxury', so cut it if you need the space.

What do I need to change to make a footnote citation into a bibliographic reference? (Actual Student Question)

For our purposes, this is pretty simple and straightforward. Take your footnote citation as it stands, reverse the author's first and last name, and paste it into your bibliography (in the correct section, if you have distinct sections -- discussed below). Once your bibliography is complete, sort the list of references in each section into alphabetical order by author's last name.


How should I structure my Bibliography?

All bibliographies should include separate sections for ‘Primary Sources’ and ‘Secondary Sources’. Dissertation bibliographies will need some additional sections:


  1. Primary Digital Databases (this is is where you will gather together all those databases, Library and archive digital resources, online exhibition webpages, and the like, that you have used, including their main URL).
  2. Periodical Press: if you use lots of newspapers and magazines, it will be efficient to list all the newspapers titles in a subsection right at the top of your Primary Sources section, which will mean you can then leave out references to each individual article in the rest of the primary sources section of your bibliography (you will already have provided the full reference in the footnotes, anyway)
  3. Secondary Digital Databases: this can go at the top of your Secondary Sources Section, listing the main databases from which you have drawn secondary source articles and the like. This means you can then cite all the secondary sources you have access digitally just as if you read them in hard-copy, without including all the URLS and such bumph. Remember, too, that authors’ first and last names are reversed in the Bibliography, and that items should appear in alphabetical order by author’s last name or by first word of the corporate author’s name [e.g. ‘Department of Health’ would appear under D]. If there is no author, you alphabetise by book or article title.
  4. You MAY wish to divide your Secondary Sources section into subsections, e.g. ‘articles and chapters’ and ‘monographs’. This is optional.


What can go in an Appendix? Should I have one?

You can use Appendices to include images to which you refer in the dissertation; for tables of data you have gathered; maps, if you need them; long sections of transcribed oral interviews, other primary texts or screenshots from webpages IF YOU NEED THEM for analysis – but ask me first if you want to do this; it is rarely necessary!


If you have a pictures appendix, remember that every image needs a caption including as much of the following information as possible:

Artist name, title of image (or brief description if there is no title), date produced or published, place where you found it (name of Museum/Library/Archive/ website URL and date, etc.). You can include a small amount of other text in the caption – a line of analysis or explanation of why the image is included.