Standard Documentation Formats
Written by Margaret Procter, Writing Support   
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Standard Documentation Formats
MLA System: Parenthetical Author-Page References (humanities)
Numbered Note
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Different disciplines use their own systems to set out information about sources. Here are samples of common systems, showing the kinds of information needed and some details of punctuation, typeface, and indentation. The examples also demonstrate ways of introducing citations and commenting on sources. 

For more detailed advice, consult the manuals mentioned below with each system. Most general writing handbooks have not yet updated their advice to reflect changes in the MLA and APA systems. 

(NOTE: The appearance of the examples may be altered by your browser. If in doubt about matters such as line spacing or indentation, check the manuals mentioned. Note also that many of the examples cited are fictional.)

Traditional Endnotes or Footnotes with Superscript Numbers (humanities)

Some humanities and science disciplines use systems with small raised numbers matching footnotes or endnotes, followed by a bibliography, because they do not interrupt the flow of the text. Though the format appears troublesome, your word processor can create the notes automatically for you: e.g., in Word, click on the tab for References, and select Insert Footnote or Insert Endnote. (Readers usually prefer footnotes.) Established scholars also use notes for digressions on tangential points, but in student work that might seem pretentious.

The example below follows the Note-Bibliography system set out in the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, and its student version, Turabian's Manual for Writers, 7th edition. Our examples use superscript note numbers rather than regular-font numbers for the notes; either is acceptable. For display on this webpage, we use endnotes, and put them under the heading "Notes." (Footnotes would appear at the bottom of each page after a short dashed line.) Here are some further remarks on particularities of this system:

  • When you refer to a source the second time, you can shorten the note by using only the author's last name and the page number (e.g., Smith, 435). That's easier for both you and your reader than the old-fashioned system of Latin abbreviations (formerly italicized) such as "Op. cit." ("in the same work") and "Ibid." ("in the same place"), which are rarely used now. If you are using two books by the same author, include a shortened form of the book title to clarify which book you mean.
  • Notes are indented like paragraphs in the essay (indent the first line, not the subsequent ones). Notes should be single-spaced, but with a blank line between notes. Bibliography entries are given in hanging-indent form (first line flush with the left margin, subsequent lines indented) and are also single-spaced with a blank line between entries.
  • In listing a webpage as a source, include the date you read the page as well as the URL. That information lets your reader judge whether he or she is seeing the same version of the webpage that you did. See also the section on Electronic Sources.
  • In this system, you still use parentheses within your prose to give page or line numbers for texts you refer to repeatedly (e.g. historical documents or works of literature). Use a note for the first such reference so the reader knows which edition you're using, and state that all subsequent references will be to this edition.

For more detailed advice on formatting in this style, consult the Notes-Bibliography chapters of the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition (Z253 C45 2003); this authoritative reference work on all matters related to editing is now available online in full to U of T students and faculty.


When Hamlet protests to his mother, "Leave wringing of your hands" (3.4.34),1 he is naming a universally recognizable gesture. As Smith says, similar broad physical movements are "still the most direct way of indicating inner turmoil."2 Zubar confirms their continuing usefulness in contemporary productions of other sixteenth-century plays.3 Renaissance audiences would have recognized hand-wringing as a signal for inner distress,4 specifically for a condition that the Elizabethan author Reynolds named "ague of the spirits."5 Poor sight lines in Elizabethan theatres also required highly visible body movements.6 In her most recent book, Brown attempts to show that such gestures are related to stylized movements from religious ceremonies.7 She argues that acting methods responded to both the physical conditions of the theatres and the audience's cultural expectations.8


1 William Shakespeare, Hamlet, in Norton Introduction to Literature, 12th ed., ed. Kelly J. Mays (New York: W.W. Norton, 2016), 1402. Subsequent parenthetical citations will refer to this edition.

2 John Smith, "Renovating Hamlet for Contemporary Audiences," UTQ 78 (Summer 2009): 964.

3 Alisa Zubar, "Acting Now," Termagant Society Online,; accessed August 16, 2016.

4 Joan Brown, The Renaissance Stage (Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008), 111.

5 Peter Reynolds, The Player's Chapbooke, 1587; quoted in Aline Mahieu, Acting Shakespeare (Toronto: Shaw, 2009), 69.

6 Smith, 964.

7 Joan Brown, Ritual and Drama in the Elizabethan Age (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2014), 90.

8 Brown, Ritual, 14.


Brown, Joan. The Renaissance Stage. Toronto: University of Toronto Press, 2008.

-------. Ritual and Drama in the Elizabethan Age. Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2014.

Mahieu, Aline. Acting Shakespeare. Toronto: Shaw, 2009.

Shakespeare, William. Hamlet. In The Norton Introduction to Literature, 12th ed., ed. Kelly J. Mays. 941-1033. New York: W.W. Norton, 2001.

Smith, John. "Renovating Hamlet for Contemporary Audiences." UTQ 78 (Summer 2009): 960-69.

Zubar, Alisa. "Acting Now." Termagant Society Online. (accessed August 16, 2016).