Last two or three weeks (as usual on this time of year), there was number of students looking for help on how to cite the sources for their first memo. For their benefit, I decided to reiterate my last year’s not-totally-unsolicited advice on the matter.
- Ask a librarian for a help. We will not do or check your footnotes, but we will walk you through the maze of the Red Book (no offence meant) to make sure that the next time you will be comfortable to use it by yourself. Do not be shy to come several times if you need more help, and please, please do not come 5 minutes before your paper is due – in this case, we can only commiserate with you.
- When your TL gives you a piece of paper, a pdf, or a photocopy of something, ask what this is, and from where it is coming (book, website, encyclopaedia, etc.). You will save some precious minutes (or hours) later when you are pressed for time and have to finish your work by a deadline. It is quite unpleasant to discover suddenly that the TL’s piece of paper is a book chapter, and you have no slightest idea about the book title and/ or author.
- Do not wait until the last minute to make your footnotes. If you ‘cite while you write’, you will have your paper AND your footnotes ready, except for the final proofing, when you finish writing the last paragraph. If you leave all your footnotes to be done after you finish the paper, you will end up frantically trying to figure out where this or that quotation is coming from, or what all the supra(s) and idem(s) mean. Everybody works differently, but try at least once…
- Add some common sense and reasoning to the Red Book. Do not expect it to contain a correct form of footnote for every possible source. Red Book will not necessarily have an answer to your particular question. When you have something to cite, think about what rule fits the best the type of source that you have in hand.
Read carefully the section to apply the rule, do not scan and skim the text.
- In short, to cite a source, proceed as follows:
- READ General Rules section (optional after you know it by heart)
- determine what it is that you have to cite
- find the chapter corresponding to the type of your source (Jurisprudence for cases, Secondary Sources for books and journal articles, etc.)
- find the section corresponding to the particular source that you have
- READ this section
- apply the rule to cite the source making analogies if necessary
- repeat as needed:)