View Full Version : Another question about citing sources

09-18-2007, 02:13 AM
Let's say one source says: "Joe Smith was a barber in New York," the second source says "Joe Smith was a barber on the Bowery in New York in the early 20th Century," and the third says, "Joe Smith was a barber at Luigi's Barber Emporium at 1750 Bowery in New York from 1901 to 1906, when he switched to become a singing barber at Phil's on Broadway."

Can I use all the facts collected by the third author without attribution or do I have to say, "As Jones said on P. 32 of his terrific "The Barbers of New York," Joe Smith started out at Luigi's...."

My feeling is, these are facts I'm getting from Jones, not opinions, and, as facts, I should be able to use them, shouldn't I?

09-18-2007, 05:15 PM
You can do it several ways, actually -- and much of it depends on the tone of your book and writing preferences!

First, you certainly can do it the way you said. Perfectly acceptable.

You can also do it this way: "Smith cut the mops in his chair at Luigi's in the Bowery in the early 1900s" -- and then endnote it. In the endnotes, you can put "Jones, 32. See also Berrios, 144 and Moya, 284." to soak up your other two sources, since you've kinda blended them all together. That covers you on providing attribution in the endnotes, without cluttering your text with all the references.

Of course, it depends on the nature of the work you're writing. But even some magazines (say, American History) like to endnote articles, rather than having the page numbers included in the text. But for a more academic journal, with a more academic approach, it's probably a push.

09-19-2007, 07:08 AM
Actually, I was kind of hoping for a purely popular approach, where I can take credit for most of the facts and just list a bibliography at the end.

09-19-2007, 05:08 PM
Endnote away!

09-19-2007, 06:39 PM
I'm confused about permissions and citing. I read nonfiction books all the time where facts like dates, etc. aren't specifically cited. When do you have to cite them? If you cite it, do you have to get permission to do so? Basically, I'm trying to figure out:

1. When do you have to cite (i.e., endnote/footnote)?
2. When do you have to get permission?

09-19-2007, 07:08 PM
Like almost anything, it depends.

I always endnote when I quote anything directly (I know, I know . . . that one gets a no duh.) If you're quoting someone else's words, or a letter, or journal, or paper, you can either put the full reference in the endnote or, if you're quoting it a lot, put it in a bibliography and endnote accordingly. Generally, you don't need permission just to quote someone -- but that's also why you endnote them and put the refernece in the biblio, so readers will know those aren't your words. Generally, you won't need permission to quote someone else's work, provided you give them proper credit.

Now, to get to the guts of where, I think, popmuze was coming from--that is, using various sources to pull facts that you'll use in a descriptive paragraph--again, it will vary.

You probably don't, for example, need to quote a reference to simply state that the Civil War took place between 1860 and 1864. That's common knowledge. And I would argue that you really don't need to endnote if you're just writing something like, "In 1830, Jacob Martin moved from London to Liverpool."

But if you write, "In 1830, Jacob Martin moved from London to Liverpool, clattering into the city on a stormy Friday night that locals would forever refer to as the Gales of the Gallows," then you're going to have to give me some of your sources. How did you know if was a stormy Friday? Where did you find that Gales of the Gallows thing? In that case, you can endnote the sentence, and then your endnote will look something like this:

4. Edward Mins, A History of Liverpool (London: Oxford Press, 1890), 167-68. See also Thompson, 14 and Hardy, 344.

That allows you to endnote multiple sources, and you just pulled in information from all three of those sources in a seamless manner in your text. The main thing is to ensure that any reader who reads that sentence and says, "Waitaminute, how in the hell did he know it was raining?" can at least see that you've done some work, and can go look it up, if he's so inclined.

Your editor will also likely tell you when (s)he needs a specific source cited in the text. Perhaps you've said something that seems factually incorrect, but really isn't; it's just an obscure fact, so you should note it so readers won't be scratching their heads.

Citing your sources doesn't mean you can't write in a colorful narrative style, or express your own opinion and views on something. But as soon as you use someone else's words to support what you're saying, you need to let readers know you're dipping into your research.

As for permissions, my only experience has been in the use of photos. So I can't attest to what needs to be done to reprint, say, song lyrics or poems.

I know, I know: clear as mud, right? Hope I've helped somewhat.