How to Wade into Evidence Explained

Help! wrote the student. “EE is a big pool to swim in! Is there a wading pool where I can just get my toes wet?” Should I start with one of the laminated QuickSheets?”

Yes and no. 

YES ...

EE itself goes from the wading pool to the deep end. The place to get your toes wet is called “Your QuickStart Guide.” It’s three gray leaves tipped into the front of the printed version, or pp. 9–11 in the ebook. 

There, we start you off with the most common citation in the history of history research: citing books. Then we show you how website citations use the same pattern.

Next, we show you the basic pattern for manuscript materials. Two basic patterns actually, because material in formal archives are cited differently from courthouse-type materials. Then (surprise!), we show you how to use that same format to cite these materials if they are online. 

In short, 4 basics:

  • Books
  • Websites (which follow the same format)
  • Manuscript materials
  • Manuscript materials online (images vs database entries)

Everything else in EE is just variations of these four things. Variations exist because records themselves have endless quirks and because cyberspace has created its own morass of problems. But if you’re grounded in these four basics, you’ll see the logic in everything else.

Oh, one more thing: Once you’ve read the QuickStart Guide, do read the first two chapters. As with every pool we swim in, it’s not enough to just wade from the shallow end to the deep without actually learning how to swim. The first two chapters are your swimming instructions.


The laminated QuickSheets are not a substitute for EE’s QuickStart Guide. Each cheat sheet focuses on a type of record and covers the main variations that exist for that type. They’re small and handy. They’re quick to scan through when you need models for common sources. But they don’t provide the basic foundation for *understanding* citations. For that, you need the QuickStart Guide—and Chapters 1–2.

HOW TO CITE: Elizabeth Shown Mills, "How to Wade into Evidence Explained," blog post, QuickTips: The Blog @ Evidence Explained ( : posted 23 June 2018).