Writing Guidelines

Notes on Style

These notes are designed as a very brief guide to style. They should answer questions about the presentation and make-up of an undergraduate history essay.

This document is not concerned with the substantive issues of writing a history paper, but only with matters of design and format and the proper arrangement of the notes and the bibliography.

Page and Type Format

Essays should:

  • be typed & double-spaced
  • use 12-point font with a serif (e.g. Times New Roman, Verdana, Georgia, Trebuchet MS, Liberation Serif)
  • have 1 inch margins at the top and bottom of the page
  • have 1 inch margins on the left and right
  • have pages numbered

Your professor may have specific requirements. Always refer to the assignment outline and syllabus.

Parts of the Paper

Title Page

  • centre the title on the page

Lower left-hand corner

  • student's name

Lower right-hand corner

  • course name
  • course number
  • instructor’s name
  • graduate assistant’s name (if appropriate)
  • date

Body of the Paper

This is the text of the essay with footnotes in the footer at the bottom of the page or as endnotes after the last page of the text.

Normally the text will be based on an outline that divides it into:

  • the introduction
  • the main body
  • the conclusion

It is not necessary to mark them with subheadings.


The bibliography lists the sources used in the preparation of the essay. It does not necessarily contain every work examined, but only those that have been found relevant and all those from which quotations or citations have been used in the essay, whether paraphrased or quoted directly.

The works are listed alphabetically, according to the author’s (or editor’s) last name.

If there is no author or editor, list according to the first important word of the title.

If two works by the same author are listed consecutively do not repeat the author’s name. The second entry begins with a continuous line of eight underscores and a period.

Quotations & Punctuation

All quotations must correspond exactly to the original wording, spelling and interior punctuation.

If material within a quoted sentence or paragraph is omitted, indicate the omission by three spaced periods(...).

For direct quotations, use double quotation marks in pairs (“...”).

For quotations within quotations, use the single quotation marks, i.e. apostrophes, in pairs (‘...’).


If you are quoting from Chartier’s “Text, Printings, Readings” article (cited below), reproduce his words accurately inside double quotation marks. If you want to include his quotation from an article by Stoddard, put Chartier’s words in double quotation marks (“...”) and Stoddard’s in single quotation marks (‘...’).

Punctuation of quotations

Periods and commas are to be placed within the quotation marks; colons and semicolons, outside the quotation marks.

Arrangements of Quotations

For quoted passages of four typed lines or less: incorporate the quotation in the body of the essay, and enclose it within double quotation marks.”

For quoted passages of more than four typed lines:

  • indent (1.5 cm from both left-and right-hand margin)
  • single-space
  • do not use quotation marks
  • This form is sometimes called a blocked quotation.


(May be footnotes or endnotes)

Notes have three main uses:

  1. to cite the authority for a statement in the body of the paper: All material directly quoted, as well as all paraphrases, summaries of other authors, and all basic ideas, theories, or points of view borrowed from the work of another author must be acknowledge; not to do so would be a breach of honesty and accuracy
  2. to make incidental comments upon, to amplify, or to qualify textual discussion; to provide a place for material which the writer thinks worthwhile to include but which would disrupt the flow of thought if introduced into the text
  3. to make cross-references within the essay or to refer to an appendix

Numbering and positioning the notes:

  • Number notes consecutively through the essay. Elevate the number slightly above the line, e.g....2
  • Footnotes appear at the foot of each page
  • Endnotes appear on a separate sheet between text and bibliography

Inserting Footnotes & Endnotes Using a Word Processor

To insert a footnote using a word processor (like MS Word or OpenOffice):

  • place your cursor in the body text where you would like to insert the footnote
  • click Insert > Reference > Footnote/endnote. In some word processors this feature is found under References > Insert Footnote/endnote.
  • type the footnote information according to proper format for your source
  • click Ok.
  • Your footnote should appear at the bottom of the page.  If footnotes are moved, added, or deleted, the numbers will adjust accordingly.

Sample Citations

These examples show the form as it should appear in both notes and bibliography.

1. Book (ie. a monograph)


1 Martha Vicinus, Independent Women: Work and Community for Single Women, 1850-1920 (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985), 121.

For second and subsequent citations, cite the author and title in abbreviated form, for example:

7 Vicinus, Independent Women, 240.

For the bibliography, the form is similar: however the author’s surname comes first, there is no page reference, and the publication information does not appear in parentheses. For example:


Vicinus, Martha. Independent Women: Work and Community for Single Women, 1850-1920. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1985.

2. Article in a Periodical


4 Bruce G. Trigger, “The Historian’s Indian: Native Americans in Canadian Historical Writing from Charlevoix to the Present,” Canadian Historical Review 67, no. 3 (1986): 316.

Later citations:

          9 Trigger, “Historian’s Indian,” 318.

Bibliography (note that the pagination for the whole article is shown):

Trigger, Bruce G. “The Historian’s Indian: Native Americans in Canadian Historical Writing from Charlevoix to the Present.” Canadian Historical Review 67, no. 3 (1986): 315-42.


3. Article or Essay in a Book of Collected Essays


8 Roger Chartier, “Texts, Printing, Readings,” in The New Cultural History, ed. Lynn Hunt (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989), 154.

Later citations:

          9 Chartier, “Texts,” 158.

Bibliography (show the pagination of the whole chapter):

Chartier, Roger. “Texts, Printing, Readings.” In The New Cultural History, edited by Lynn Hunt, 154-75. Berkeley: University of California Press, 1989.

4. A Medieval Author, in a translated text


12 Geoffrey of Monmouth, The History of the Kings of Britain, trans. Lewis Thorpe (Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin Books, 1966), 52.

Later citations:

          9 Geoffrey of Monmouth, History, 45.


Geoffrey of Monmouth. The History of the Kings of Britain. Translated by Lewis Thorpe. Harmondsworth, Eng.: Penguin Books, 1966.

5. Indirect quote


6 Dorothy Sayers, Gaudy Night (1935) as quoted in Vicinus, Independent Women, 121.

6. A Citation from an Electronic Source


5 Geoffrey Chaucer, The Canterbury Tales, English Poetry Full-Text Database, rel. 2 [CD-ROM] (Cambridge: Chadwyck-Healey, 1993).

7. A Citation from the Internet (be sure to indicate the date of access, since web sites can change from day to day


10 William J. Mitchel, City of Bits: Space, Place, and the Infobahn [book on-line] (Cambridge, Mass.: MIT Press, 1995, accessed 29 September 1995); available from http://www.mitpress.mit.edu:80/City_of_Bits/Pulling_Glass/index.html: Internet.

You may wish to use parenthetical citations in the text (Trigger, 315) rather than footnotes/endnotes. Consult your instructor about whether this usage is acceptable.

  • For further advice on writing a history essay, consult your instructor.
  • For information of citing other sources (newspapers, magazines, film, interviews, other online media, etc.) consult your professor or a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style.
  • You may also wish to read Jules R. Benjamin, A Student’s Guide to History Eighth Edition (New York: Bedford/St. Martin’s Press, 2000). 
  • You should also make yourself familiar with the University of Windsor Policy on Plagiarism.
  • The Writing Support Desk also offers help with writing, including free writing support for undergraduates and graduates, including those students whose first language is not English, individualized writing assessments based on previously graded work or a recommended writing sample, weekly writing tutorials for small groups, and peer writing support.