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English Literature: How to Read a Cited Reference

Resources for the study of Literature in English

How do you recognize publication type from a citation?

The key to reading a cited reference is to understand the type of publication being referenced.  In other words, is the reference citing an article published in a scholarly journal?  Is it citing a book? A chapter from a book? An essay published in an anthology?  A manuscript?  An unpublished letter or diary?  The boxes on this page will help you to identify publication type.

Once you've identified the type of item being cited, see the page on "How to Find Cited Material" to discover search strategies for finding the item you want.

Recognizing Books

A cited reference for a monograph--which is another way of saying a book on a single topic rather than a collection of essays--is generally the simplest citation you'll see and includes the author's name, the title of the book, the publisher's name and location, and the year of publication. It may also include page numbers that indicate the section of the book to which the citation is referring.  Here is a typical citation for a monograph:

Recognizing Other Material

Many times you will find a cited reference that you don't recognize.  It's not for an article, book or anthologized essay.  So how do you recognize its form?  First, keep in mind that you've already ruled out the most common forms found on this page.  Then look for additional clues within the citation. Here is an example of the clues you might find that will help you to recognize less common forms:

Recognizing Journal Articles

A cited reference to a journal article includes some key information that is not included in a citation for a book or any other type of material.  This information includes Volume, Number/Issue and Publication Date.  Here is a typical citation for a journal article:

Recognizing Book Chapters and Anthologized Essays

A cited reference for an essay published in an anthology or a book chapter includes much of the same information found in a reference for a monograph. However, there are a few key differences that will help you to identify this particular type of material, including more than one title (the title of the essay and the title of the book in which it was published), the name of the essay's author and often the name of the book's editor. Here is a typical citation for an essay published in an anthology: