Use of EE citation conventions outside of genealogy

I appreciate that EvidenceExplained (EE) is much more than a bunch of recipe citations, but my question is about the conventions used in its citation style.

I like the way that EE treats online publications on an equal footing with traditional publications; it's much more logical than the Chicago manual of style conventions.

I now find myself using the EE variant in a publication that has nothing to do with genealogy, simply because I like it better. My question is how to explain this to editors and publishers. Is there a summary page that explains the differences from what they may be used to, and the rationale? Is there a precedent for the use of the EE conventions outside of genealogy?


Submitted byEEon Sat, 02/01/2020 - 11:23

Tony, thanks for waiting until I returned to the office. Thanks, too, for your evaluation of the logic behind EE citations. A lot of teeth-gnashing went into that as Evidence Style was being developed—into both the logic of the formats and the streamlining of variations. Having a basic format that applies whether a source is physical or digital is essential, IMO, given the breadth of materials consulted by historical researchers and the endless ways those sources vary.

You ask: “Is there a precedent for the use of the EE conventions outside of genealogy?” Yes. Here in the US, EE is used by a number of universities and academic presses when researchers are working in the humanities, rather than scientific fields. As you know, in science, citations are almost always to the published work of others. They can be handled with a cryptic parenthetical reference keyed to a bibliography at the end of the paper. That simplicity is in great contrast to the work done in fields within the humanities.

You specifically mention treating “online publications on an equal footing with traditional publications”—as opposed to Chicago (or MLA, AP, and others). This centers upon the second issue I mentioned above: Streamlining. Logically, there is no reason why we should have one set of rules for books and articles published in print and another set of rules when they are published digitally. The basic elements that need to be cited are the same. Users should not have to remember one format and one set of punctuation rules for one media and different rules for the other.

Submitted byACProctoron Sun, 02/02/2020 - 07:45

No problem, Elizabeth. I know you're busy at the moment. I have a few specific questions:

1) Does the EE citation style have an official name? I saw that 'Evidence Style' was in quotes, above, but I'm not sure how to take that.

2) Is there a page I can point to that explains the rationale for having a distinct style (e.g. streamlining, or addressing unusual source types)?

3) Apart from putting the URL in the publisher details, and separating it from 'accessed' (etc.) with a colon (analogous to the colon following a place of publication), are there other differences that make this style distinct from CMoS?

Although my publication will be of a scientific nature, it will not be aimed specifically at academia or research journals. I therefore chose CMoS (or your variant) as I feel it is less cryptic and likely to be understood by a broader range of people. I also have many discursive endnotes and so it was more consistent to include my citations in there rather than inline.

P.S. I am not receiving email notifications for comments posted here. I remember that I used to have this problem before, but it still seems to exist.

Submitted byEEon Sun, 02/02/2020 - 10:57



Evidence Style.  (Without the italics, which Drupal added.) That one word, evidence, embodies the difference between EE and other style guides. When we Google for "Why do we cite sources?" The featured hit is this:

In short, two reasons:

  1. to show our readers that we have a source for our "information"—i.e., we didn't just make it up.
  2. to give credit.

EE argues that just having a source is meaningless. What matters is the quality of the evidence supplied by each source we used. From that focus we draw the name of the style: Evidence Style.


Have you seen the table at the bottom half of this site's home page? There, we compare EE to other manuals.


What are the differences between EE and CMOS?

  1. Standard format for all published works, whether in print or online.
  2. The layering concept for citing online images, usually delivered within the framework of a complex database.
  3. Emphasis on recording all information needed to evaluate the source. That entails clear identification of the type of material being cited, clear distinctions between originals and derivatives of whatever type.
  4. Principal focus on manuscript materials and complex sources not covered by other style guides.

EE’s purpose is not to reinvent the wheel. It follows the long-standing conventions set by Turabian and then Chicago,  the two guides that have guided humanities-based researchers for generations. Even the layering concept, using colons to separate the layers, follows the long-standing convention for citing manuscript materials in an archive, where material is organized by a hierarchy that drills upward from one level to another. As explained at 2.74:

The reason EE exists—the reason why it’s needed—is that the two citation chapters of CMOS (and comparable guides such as MLA and AP) focus primarily on published materials. Before EE, those who do research in historical manuscripts, created under an endless variety of circumstances and archived in contradictory ways, were left to muddle their way through thousands of types of records—often with no clear understanding of two critical things:

  1. what exactly they were using and the level of dependability that source represented; and
  2. what details they needed to capture in order to accurately identify the source and ensure that it could be located again.




Submitted byACProctoron Tue, 02/04/2020 - 11:38
Thanks for the response. I understand (and knew) all that you've written here, but I guess I was hoping for a specific page that I could link to. From your perspective, Evidence Explained is about all these things, and your citation style is simply a means to an end in achieving your goals. From my perspective, I need to justify the use of your particular citation style in another field, and summarise its main differences. So, we're probably looking at this from opposite ends of the telescope. I'll summarise these things in a general paragraph on stylistic matters for the publisher.