Clarification requested re: "Newspaper Articles (Online Images)"

Dear Editor;

Would you clarify a small issue for me regarding the ordering of information for newspaper articles?

I tend to have many reference to a newspaper of a particular name. So; I prefer to emphasize the newspaper, rather than the article title. In a previous post, you addressed a case in which there was no author. However; I do have some cases that have an author and want to place it in the appropriate position.

If I use the example from Section 14.22, "Newspaper Articles (Online Images)," would I maintain the position of the author, relative to the title, and make it look like this? (Note: I understand that it is normal to remove the word, "The," from a newspaper's name.)

Source List Entry

Pennsylvania. Indiana. Indiana Democrat, 1930–36.

First Reference Note

1. Indiana (Pennsylvania) Democrat, 3 June 1936, p. 3, cols. 5–7, William C. Utley, “Vigilantes War on Rural Crime”; image copy, ( : accessed 1 April 2015), Historical Newspaper Collection.

Subsequent Note

11. Indiana (Pennsylvania) Democrat, 3 June 1936, p. 3, cols. 5–7.

One last question... It seems that the name of the collection should be in quotes. Is there a reason why this is not done in this case?


Submitted byEEon Tue, 08/03/2021 - 17:31


Every style guide for historical research would start that citation with the identification of the author, then the title of the article, then the title of the newspaper in which it appears.  If you feel that your need justifies relegating the author to the tail end of the newspaper's citation, then EE would suggest that you at least identify William C. Utley as "author," rather than leaving readers to assume he was one of the vigilantes or criminals who were the subject of the article.  (That field is not one in which readers expect a personal name to be an author's name.)

The shift of focus also presents a problem in the Subsequent Note. That short cite has the name of the paper, the date, and the page column numbers; but it does not give your reader a clue as to what newspaper article to look for on that page--or a clue as to how your citation supports what you are discussing in your text. The conventional practice is to cite the exact article in the short cite, rather than the whole newspaper and the date.

Re the name of the collection and whether it should be in quotation marks: If this were a manuscript collection in an archive, quotation marks would not be used. But when we cite a named collection at a website (as with an article in a book or journal), we copy the collection title exactly and put it into quotation marks.  But, here again, that second layer of your citation has the horse at the tail end of the cart. The title of a named collection or article goes at the beginning of the citation, before the title of the website.

In this case, Ancestry has a "category" called "Newspapers & Publications" but it is not a named collection. Using the search box in Ancestry's card catalog, when I typed in "Historical Newspaper Collection," I got nothing. I had to query the card catalog for the name of the newspaper to find it. The name of the collection you actually used is different. It also has its own URL to which one can go directly without having to search for a link to the collection in the catalog.

EE would suggest this ...

First Reference Note:
          1.  William C. Utley, "Vigilantes War on Rural Crime," Indiana (Pennsylvania) Democrat, 3 June 1936, p. 3, cols. 5–7; image copy, "The Indiana Democrat (Indiana, Pennsylvania)," Ancestry ( : accessed 1 April 2015).

Subsequent Note:
    11. Utley, "Vigilantes War on Rural Crime, col. 6.

     [or whichever specific column has the specific information to which you are appending the citation.]

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Tue, 08/03/2021 - 18:36

I am now thoroughly confused by your response....

I was trying to follow the examples and feedback you provided me in for citing newspapers and to figure out what one does with the author in such situations.

In EE posting of Thu, 06/10/2021 - 14:58 you provided the following example of a suitable citation per your QuickSheet.

In the meanwhile, our QuickSheet: Citing Ancestry Databases & Images (2019) offers an example comparable to your situation. Following that pattern would give us this:

Ottawa  (Ontario) Journal, 6 March 1958, cols. 1–2, “Deaths: Murison, Thomas Baird”; imaged in “Ontario, Canada, The Ottawa Journal (Birth, Marriage and Death Notices), 1885–1980,” database with images, Ancestry ( : accessed 10 June 2021). 

In EE posting of Thu, 06/10/2021 - 20:28, in response to one of my questions you stated the following (in which I have bolded the relevant part):

2) Question 2 (last sentence of the para.): Typically, when we cite an article in a larger publication—an article in a journal, an authored chapter in an edited book, a database at a website, etc.—the smaller title comes before the title of the larger standalone publication—with the article/chapter/database title in quotation marks and the title of the standalone publication italicized.  In the case of newspapers, in this era of computerized citations, the rule may be modified to put the specific article at the end. This usually happens when the researcher takes many items from a newspaper and prefers for the newspaper's title to be the lead element in the reference note and the source-list entry.  In either case, it is a case of the proverbial six-of-one and a half-dozen-of-the-other.

Notice that the newspaper's title, in the suggested citation of 06/10/2021 - 14:58, is the lead element and the specific article is at the end. This seems to be in line with your subsequent clarification.

The object of my current post was solely to illustrate the question, "If there were an author to an article in this form, where would it go?" Trying to recast the EE book citation in format you proposed seemed to be the best approach.

Are you saying that one cannot use the previously suggested format, if there is an author?

Submitted byEEon Wed, 08/04/2021 - 09:54

Let me try the explanation this way, History-Hunter:

  • If the item in the newspaper is an item for which no author is named, then the item might be relegated to the end. All elements of the citation are then in logical sequence--all headed in the same direction. Newspaper title > date > page > specific article on that page. You are starting with the largest item and drilling down to the smallest.
  • If the item in the newspaper is an authored item, then no citation style recommends relegating the author to the end of the citation. The author is the origin of the information you are citing. Where there is an author, we always start the citation with the identity of the author. However, the pattern would not be Author > Newspaper title > date > page > specific article on that page because the author is not the author of the newspaper. The author is the author of that specific article.

That latter point leads us to EE's Velcro Principle: Things that belong together should stick together.  Therefore, we would not put the author at the start of the citation and the article written by that author at the end of the citation.

The example you raised in node/1905 was not an authored article. It was a generic death notice, one of many, with no author identified for that individual death notice.

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Wed, 08/04/2021 - 13:21

Thank you. Your explanation makes sense.

I guess what was confusing is that the alternative form, while possible, is not really a pragmatic choice in my efforts to train myself to cite in a consistent style throughout my genealogical documents.

At the risk of restating the obvious...

The EE book is a reference work and therefor shows a wide range of possibilities, but can't really address what citation format choices fit together to yield the appearance of a consistent writing style. It's like my learning to program from a computer language manual. I can pick up a new language that way, only because I already understand the principles involved from years of programming and developing programming languages.

What is likely needed is a good end-to-end example family history.

At the moment, I don't think I've ever seen any good example of a family history that correctly and consistently utilize EE citations for its references and source list. While the EE book does try to explain the principles involved, prior to diving into the reference material, I think a lot of family historians would benefit from seeing a full-up example of those principles in a form to which they can relate.

If you know of an example of an available, well-written, EE-compliant, family history, please announce it. I think there are a lot of us out there that would benefit from seeing an example of the goal for which we are all striving.


Submitted byEEon Thu, 08/05/2021 - 09:48

H-H, the basic issue here is that history research does not conform to the "consistency" that's possible in computer languages. History research is a total immersion in INconsistency. Record creation has been inconsistent across places in the same time frame—and across time in the same places. Record survival is inconsistent and always has been. The language used by humans to create documents is infinitely inconsistent—as are the choices made by archivists who organize and label documents. Accuracy is highly inconsistent from one record to the other, even when they are the "same type" of record. And now that historical records are being delivered by IT, there has been no consistency in the schemes used by IT to deliver those records.

Even if I or someone could cite you a "well-written, EE-compliant, family history" it would not fill your need for a set of "choices that fit together to yield the appearance of a consistent writing style." It would fail because that one book would be unique to the set of records, people, and locations of that family. Your own family would introduce a thousand variants that call for evaluation and judgment—i.e., those "choices" that create "inconsistency."

To help you in making those choices, given that you want examples of citations within the framework of written historical research, are you in the habit of studying each new issue of the National Genealogical Society Quarterly?

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Thu, 08/05/2021 - 12:34

Dear editor;

I do understand your point of view and appreciate that original works are exactly that...original. So their citation structure doesn't usually tend to be regular.

Thank you for the suggestion to read the NGS Quarterly issues. I try to read whatever publications are within my budget, as I've found that I learn best by example and experimentation.

I suppose that I should note that in my citations, to the extent possible, I try to cite each type of information in a consistent way throughout my document. I also try to adopt a consistent ordering of any layers, again, to the the extent possible. That helps to alleviate some confusion when reading my documents. You've seen by my posts and have likely noticed that I'm exploring options to find a "style" that works best for me.

In the case of online sites hosting multiple collections; I can usually find some level of detail at which the overall citation has a fairly consistent structure. This is largely because such sites are typically organized to facilitate computerized data management (but I've seen some, like the Medway City Archives and the Library and Archives Canada, that are definitely not). So; I've been exploring the use of a modicum of high-level templating in which I relegate some of the more "unique" elements to a small number of fields over which I have complete control. That approach is showing a great deal of promise and is helping to make my citations have a slightly more regular look and feel. That said; I ALWAYS do my first-cut citations manually, in my Research Notes, since that forces me to examine the information more closely and allows me to record any relevant observations.