We recognize that while citations are extremely important for establishing the academic credibility of your work, preparing citations isn’t necessarily the most fun and creative part of writing your own textbook.
We recommend gathering publication information as you find each source. Even if you choose not to format your reference list as you go, you still want all the pertinent details on-hand when you are ready to do the final styling. This will save you the hassle of needing to make a return trip to the library or struggling to find the same source months later.
To ease the burden of gathering the publication information as you work, we have a few practical tips.
- Start by creating a master list, organized by the types of sources you will include. For example, you might have sections for books, peer-reviewed journals, magazine articles, web-based resources, and newspaper articles. Do this even if you haven’t settled on your sources yet.
- Each time you add/find a new source, list complete information about that source in the appropriate section. This way, you can build your bibliography or reference list a little at a time.
As you write, there are different strategies that make noting down the right sources a quick and easy process.
- If you’re referring to a source, but not directly quoting, make a quick note in parentheses with general information (i.e., Smith book). Then, when you finish the chapter, you can go back and add in the relevant information from your master list of sources.
- If you’re researching and find a quote you think you will want to use, but you’re not sure exactly where, start a separate document for quotes and block quotes. Add each one as you locate it, including the page number (i.e., Smith book, p. 7). Then, when you’re ready to use the quote, you can copy and paste it into your manuscript and you’ll know where you found it.
- Another strategy is to use color. For example, highlight information from books in blue, and information from journals in yellow. This gives you a quick visual reference and enables you to do complete citations for all the books at one time and all the journals at once while referring back to your master list.
- We also recommend doing the full correct citations for each chapter once you’ve finished writing it. Information will be fresh in your mind and doing the citations for a single chapter is much less daunting and time-consuming than adding and/or checking all the citations in the entire manuscript. This strategy prevents citation fatigue, which can lead to errors.
One last tip: When in doubt, plan to have a citation. It’s much easier to delete a citation you don’t need than to track down all the source information for something that requires a citation, but you can’t remember exactly where you found it.