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Demystifying Primary Sources for Historical Research

Citing Primary Sources: Title

  • What is the source called?
  • Is there more than one title?
  • If the source is published online, what is the title of the web site or the digital collection?

For a primary source published in an edited collection, there will be two titles: one for the source (in quotation marks) and the second one for the collection (in italics).

In case of articles in a newspaper or a journal, there will be more than a single title (one for the article itself, in quotation marks, and the second title for the periodical in which it was published, set in italics).

If you are citing a source that you located online, take note of the electronic collection or web site in which it is published. Do not use angle brackets to enclose the URL in the citation, keeping the punctuation as you found it.

For unpublished primary sources, begin with a word that described the document. For instance, if you are citing a letter use the word “correspondence” or “letter” (depending on the style of citation you are using) followed by the name of the sender and the recipient.


Footnote or endnote:
John Norman Harris, Letter to L. Delaporte,

Priscilla M. Roberts, ed., World War II: The Essential Reference Guide

Harris, Norman John. Letter to L. Delaporte.

Roberts, Priscilla M., ed., World War II: The Essential Reference Guide.

created by: Agatha Barc & Colin Deinhardt | updated: 9 February 2018