Citing wartime military publications

Dear Editor;

As I often do, I've come across an useful wartime military publication (imaged online) that I find very difficult to cite. It isn't easily classified as a published or unpublished document. Being a wartime military document, it was "published" for use within the service, but not available to the general public. So, the military didn't identify it in the standard commercial way for a published book.

It has a main designation of, "Recognition Handbook of British Aircraft," but it also has other relevant information on the page that should somehow be part of the cited title (ie. Air Publication 1480A, Part 1, Sections A to D.) So; I suspect that the full cited title should be, "Air Publication 1480A – Recognition Handbook of British Aircraft: Part 1, Sections A to D."

It has an author, the British "Air Ministry," a publisher," W.P. Ltd.," and an initial publication date of "9/41." Unfortunately; there is no place of publication and I'm uncertain how one correctly addresses this.

To make it even more confusing; military publications are usually "living documents" with an initial publication date and they rely upon a set of revision notices and associated revised sheets to keep them current. So; a simple page number is not enough to accurately cite a specific page.

One accesses the manuals page as,, then the main document and its 4 sections have separate links. This is a further wrinkle since none of the actual "information" is in the main document. It just contains the revision notices.

Here is my best guess at how I could handle referencing a specific page in one of the sections.

As always; your suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


Source List Entry

Air Ministry. [British]. Air Publication 1480A – Recognition Handbook of British Aircraft: Part 1, Sections A to D. [initial publication] September 1941. [United Kingdom.] W.P. Limited.

First Reference Note

1. [British] Air Ministry, Air Publication 1480A – Recognition Handbook of British Aircraft: Part 1, Sections A to D ([United Kingdom:] W.P. Limited, 1941), section {section letter – section title}, sheet {sheet & revision}, {aircraft name}; imaged online as, Bomber Command History ( : accessed {dd month yyyy}) > {section letter – section title} > {image no.}.

Subsequent Note

11. [British] Air Ministry, Air Publication 1480A: Part 1, 1941, {section letter – appendix title}, {sheet & revision}, {aircraft name}.





Submitted byEEon Wed, 10/07/2020 - 09:21

You've done well, History-Hunter. No one should have any problem understanding your citation or using it to relocate the publication.

With regard to the lack of a publication place, the standard approach when an exact place is not stated is to use N.P. (meaning No Place is stated) in the field where the place of publication would normally appear. See EE 2.56 or 12.15.

One small syntax nit can be picked from the "bridge words" that transition the reader from layer 1 to layer 2. You use:

...; imaged online as, Bomber Command History ( :

EE would make that

imaged at Bomber Command History ( :

The reasoning is this: In normal discourse, we would not say "the document is imaged as Website So-and-So" because a document is almost never the whole website. We would say

  • the document is imaged at Website So-and-So.
  • the document is imaged in "Such-and-Such Collection," Website So-and-So. 

In any case, we would not use a comma between the preposition and its object (the name of the website or the name of the collection).

As an example of the use of "imaged as," see 5.19 or 9.9 where a whole document is imaged as "This Document Name," at Website So-and-So.

You'll also note that I omitted the word "online" after "imaged."  The rest of the citation, with its URL, clearly indicates that it's online and is universally understood today. The phrase "imaged online" was used in the first edition back in 2007 or the first QuickSheet in 2005, if I recall correctly, because many people at that time were not yet online and unfamiliar with URLs. But it was dropped with the second edition of EE in 2009.

Submitted byHistory-Hunteron Thu, 10/08/2020 - 09:29

Thank you. Given the somewhat unusual nature of the publication, I'm surprised I managed as well as I did. I appreciate your clearing up the three points. Hope this example helps others.