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NOTES AND REFERENCES Additions to works of scholarship and science such as supplementary points of information and details of the sources to which writers have referred. There is no sharp distinction between the two categories: notes can consist of or contain references, and references may be annotated. Notes, however, are often more substantial than references (for example, in monographs), and tend to be either footnotes (at the bottom of a page) or endnotes (at the end of a chapter or entire work). Sidenotes, set in a margin, also sometimes occur. Scholarly notes are usually signalled by superscript numbers at appropriate points in a text, but such symbols as asterisks and obelisks may be used instead for footnotes. References, on the other hand, tend to be listed in appendices whose titles and locations are usually given on the contents page of the work in question. The advantage of footnotes to the reader is ease of reference; the disadvantage to both reader and typesetter is that long notes are likely to run over to the lower part of the next page. The advantage of endnotes, especially for the printer and publisher, is that they are all arranged sequentially in one place, regardless of the length of individual notes. The disadvantage for the reader is that they are at a distance from the various parts of the text to which they relate, but this disadvantage may be lessened if the notes are so organized as to provide a linked set of supporting comments on the text. For texts which authors and publishers wish to keep free of superscript symbols, endnotes are keyed to such points of reference as page numbers or repeat identifying phrases from the text. All such addenda are generally kept as brief as possible, but endnotes can sometimes be in effect supplementary essays. Endnotes, bibliographies, lists of works referred to, and the like, are usually set in a smaller type-size than the main text. Footnotes, the compactness of which is especially desirable, may be set even smaller, several sizes down from the text type. Generally, the bulk of any set of notes and references is taken up by citations of the authors, titles, dates, etc., of publications. These may be presented in either of two ways: in note form, often in a reference list, such as ‘See K. Wales, A Dictionary of Stylistics, 1989’; or in bibliographical form, such as ‘Wales, K. 1989. A Dictionary of Stylistics. Harlow: Longman’. See ACADEMIC USAGE, ASTERISK, BIBLIOGRAPHY, WRITING.


To save space, but also as a legacy from the days when Latin was the language of pan-European scholarship, authors and editors have tended to use, in texts and notes, Latin terms of reference, usually in abbreviated form and often printed in italic. The most common traditional usages are:

c., ca. Short for circa ‘around’: indicating an approximate date or figure, as in ‘ Chaucer was born c.1340’ and ‘c.3 m’ (for ‘around three million’).

cf. Short for confer ‘compare’: inviting the reader to compare an entry, topic, or work with one or more others, as in ‘cf. Havelock, Preface to Plato’, ‘cf. analogy, metaphor, simile’.

e.g. Short for exempli gratia ‘for the sake of example’: preceding an example of the point being discussed.

et al. Short for et alii (masculine), et aliae (feminine), et alia (neuter), ‘and others’: coming after the first of a list of names whose other elements the writer does not wish to provide or repeat: ‘ R. Quirk et al., A Comprehensive Grammar of the English Language.’

etc. Short for et cetera ‘and so on’: used widely, both formally and casually, for more of the same: ‘books, magazines, newspapers, etc.’

fl. Short for floruit ‘flourished’: indicating the period in which someone lived, usually because actual life dates are not known: ‘Gautama the Buddha, fl. 6th century BC’.

ibid. Short for ibidem ‘in the same place’: referring the reader to a publication mentioned in an immediately preceding note: Ibid. p. 330.

id., ead. Short for idem ‘the same man’, eadem ‘the same woman’: used after the first reference in notes that have more than one reference to works by the same author, to save repeating the author's name.

i.e. Short for id est ‘that is’: used in running text to gloss or clarify a statement just made: ‘… the work of an ovate i.e. a minor druid’.

loc. cit., l.c. Short for loco citato ‘in the place cited’: used in notes to indicate a passage already cited: ‘Urdang, loc. cit.

NB or N.B. Short for nota bene ‘note well’: used to call attention to something the writer considers important: ‘NB difficulties in dating such texts’.

op. cit. Short for opere citato ‘in the work cited’: used in notes to indicate reference to a publication already cited: ‘Urdang, op. cit., p. 18’.

passim ‘here and there’: used to inform the reader that the topic under discussion is treated in various parts of a cited publication: ‘Chap. 5, passim’ (that is, throughout Chapter 5), ‘Chap. 5 et passim’ (throughout Chapter 5 and elsewhere).

q.v. Short for quod vide ‘which see’: once a common device to indicate in passing that something is treated fully elsewhere, in its proper place: ‘In 1792, the Jacobins under Georges Danton (q.v.) seized power’ (that is, see the entry Danton). Plural qq.v.

sic ‘thus’: used parenthetically by writers and editors, especially in square brackets, to distance themselves from a dubious or erroneous usage, but also sometimes to draw attention to it, perhaps highlighting it in order to mock it: ‘… but they did not recieve [sic] the letter’.

viz. Short for videlicet ‘it is permitted to see’ (understood as ‘namely’, ‘to wit’): a reference in apposition that specifies examples or identifies a person or thing, as in ‘The Magi, viz. Melchior, Caspar, and Balthazar’.