Question about dates in Parenthesis

Dear Editor,

I wanted to ask a question about why different QCM show dates in parenthesis, yet "similar items" are not.

Journal Articles show dates in parenthesis, QCM 779, 780, 781.

Magazine Articles show dates in parenthesis, QCM 782.

Newspaper Articles show dates in parenthesis, QCM 784

But Newspaper Articles, QCM 785, 786 are not.

I have read 2.70, 14.7 and 14.9, but I still don't understand why some dates are shown in parenthesis and others are not.

I guess my question is, does it really matter? i.e. if I show dates in parenthesis for a newspaper article. It is still giving/showing the print date.

Thank you in advance for your reply in due course. 

With Kind Regards





Submitted byEEon Tue, 08/03/2021 - 08:47

Robyn, good question!  The truth is, that difference is just an artifact enshrined by tradition in the citation world.  (CMOS, MLA, etc.) Dates of journals have always been placed in parentheses. Dates of newspapers have not.

I do not recall ever seeing an explanation of why, but one distinction is obvious. When citing journals, we also include volume numbers; when citing newspapers, we don't. The extra field in the journal citations "complicates" punctuation a bit. Perhaps the parentheses were then adopted for clarity.

Magazines and newsletters are a hybrid-of-sorts, falling between the extremes of journals and newspapers. CMOS and MLA recommend treating magazines and newsletters like newspapers because, we're told, magazine and newsletters do not carry volume numbers—or, if they do, they are nonessential.  Considering that most citations to magazines and newsletters by those who follow CMOS or MLA are to "popular" magazines such as Time, Newsweek, GQ, etc., that are easily located by date alone, that theory usually is valid.

However, the field of family history has many magazines and newsletters that do carry volume numbers and those volume numbers are often essential to relocation of the article.  For that reason, EE cites magazines and newsletters using the same format as journal articles. 

The bottom line is that one has only one rule to remember—well, one rule, but two parts:

  • When citing a newspaper, each element can be separated by a comma (except when we need to add the city or state, in which case that added info goes in parentheses or square brackets).
  • When citing all other periodicals, include the volume number and place the date in  parentheses followed by a colon.

Now, after reducing the difference to two bullet points, we can see another reason why, perhaps, citation guides for generations have not used parentheses around newspaper dates:

  • The city or state often has to be added to the name of the newspaper. It does not have to be added to journals, magazines, etc.
  • Using just one set of parentheses for newspapers produces "cleaner" results than putting two sets of data in parens.