Everybody Loves Referencing

You’ve checked the spelling, grammar, and punctuation. You’ve made sure the language is appropriate and flows smoothly. Now comes your favourite bit of academic proofreading. Perhaps you’d like to dress up and pour yourself a glass of wine (alcohol-free, of course: don’t drink and proofread!) before you settle down to the positive treat that is the referencing.

What? You don’t love proofreading references? You don’t smile fondly every time you see a citation that needs work? Or let out a whoop of joy when faced with an obscure, complicated referencing style? What on earth is wrong with you?

For the rest of us, the normies who are content as long as we have a gingerbread latte, some pizza, and OSCOLA footnotes to enjoy, here are some of referencing’s most adorable foibles.

Just chilling with a latte and a PDF of the MLA Style Manual.

I Didn’t Mean THAT Harvard

One thing we adore about checking references is the way everything we know can go out the window at the drop of a style guide. Many referencing ‘systems’ with the same name vary between institutions. For example, while many organisations claim to use ‘Harvard’ referencing, this is just an umbrella term covering various styles of author–date citation.

In addition, some style guides change their advice between editions. For instance, the 16th edition of the Chicago Manual of Style recommended using ibid. for repeat references, while the 17th edition suggests using a shortened version of the first citation instead.

When faced with an academic document, therefore, it is worth checking which version of a referencing style the client is using. Otherwise you risk making unnecessary edits.

Referencing Style: Essay

We just beam with pleasure when we ask for a client’s referencing style and get an answer that gives us no clue whatsoever. It makes us feel like detectives.

When this happens, your first port of call should be to contact the client and politely explain what you mean, giving examples. This is often enough to glean the information you need. Alternatively, the client may have to get in touch with their university to ascertain which referencing style they need to use.

If all else fails, ensure sources are referenced clearly and consistently, then leave a comment for the client to remind them to check their references and citations are correct.

Wizard Boy and the Thinker’s Rock

You’re a magician, Henry.

It’s always exciting to see a title or author name and just know it’s been copied down or remembered incorrectly. Moreover, some clients may appear to have a mental block regarding consistent spelling. Perhaps an author is sometimes Robert and sometimes Roberts. Perhaps the name of a text alternates between The Title, A Title and just Title.

You can always check this yourself and make changes if you are sure you have the correct version of the source in question. However, if you are at all unsure, you should leave a comment for the client asking them to check. They can then amend the word or words in question themselves, saving you from making incorrect corrections.