United Nations Editorial Manual Online
Footnotes and other references
II. General instructions on footnotes and text notes
Footnotes. In resolutions and decisions, all sources are cited in footnotes. In masthead documents, sales publications and reports issued as supplements to the Official Records, footnotes are used to cite:
Text notes. In masthead documents, publications and supplements to the Official Records, text notes are used to cite:
Footnotes, text notes or references directly in the text. In masthead documents, publications and supplements, references to newspaper articles, public statements, interviews, personal communications and material on a website may be given in footnotes, text notes or directly in the text, as appropriate.
Footnotes to items in the text are placed at the bottom of the page. Endnotes are not used. Footnotes to figures and tables are placed directly below the figure or table (see Tables/Notes to tables). Footnotes to items in a boxed text contained in a document or publication are normally placed within the box.
Footnotes indicated by asterisks and other symbols are placed above footnotes indicated by numbers and lower-case letters when they appear at the bottom of the same page. For additional information, see Footnote indicators/ Footnotes indicated by lower-case letters and Footnotes indicated by asterisks and other symbols.Footnotes in boxed summaries. Footnotes are not given for items in a boxed summary at the beginning of a document if the items can be referenced in the main body of the text. When it is necessary to include a footnote to an item in a boxed summary, the footnote is indicated by a lower-case letter and placed within the box.
Authors should cite only sources that are strictly relevant and necessary. Commonly known or easily verifiable facts do not require a source note.
Once an item has been referenced, whether in a footnote or text note, the reference is repeated only when necessary for the sake of clarity or to change a specific element in the reference, such as a section or paragraph number. In resolutions, an item is referenced the first time it is mentioned in the preamble and the first time it is mentioned in the operative part. When it is necessary to repeat a reference, the footnote indicator may be repeated in certain cases without repeating the footnote itself. For further information, see Repeated references.
General references to sources. To acknowledge sources used extensively in preparing a document or publication and avoid multiple footnotes or text notes, a general reference can be given in a single footnote or at an appropriate place in the text.
Combined footnotes or text notes. The number of footnotes or text notes can sometimes be reduced by combining them, provided that no ambiguity results.
Author-date and keyed references. In publications, the number of footnotes can be reduced by using the author-date system or keyed references. For further information, see Reference lists and bibliographies/ Author-date system and Keyed references.
Basic guidelines are provided in this section for citing sources accessed on the Internet. For instructions on citing specific types of electronic source material and examples, including references to Internet sources, CD-ROMs and e-books, see United Nations sources and Outside sources.
Citing Internet sources
Style. Internet sources are identified by a uniform resource locator (URL), an electronic address, which is written in standard (roman) font, not italics, and without angle brackets (< >). The URL is not underlined in hard copy. In an electronic text, URL links will normally be underlined automatically.
Prefixes. URL prefixes (protocols), such as “http” and “ftp”, are always followed by a colon and two forward slashes ( http:// and ftp://). The prefix “http” may be omitted from a reference when the URL contains “www” (e.g. www.unhcr.org). In all other cases, the prefix must be included to ensure that the URL will work (e.g. http://millenniumassessment.org).
References to material posted on a website. The URL should enable readers to find the source material easily. A reference to a website’s home or search page is often sufficient. When the source cannot easily be located from that page, a complete URL directing readers to the specific page or document on the website should be given.
In resolutions and decisions of United Nations bodies, references to material posted on a website are always given in a footnote and the URL is introduced by the words “Available from”. In documents and publications, the URL may be given in a text note introduced by “available from” or “see”.
References to a website as a whole. When readers are referred to a website as a whole for information or when a website is specifically mentioned in a document or publication, the URL can be given either directly in the text or in parentheses after the name of the website. “See” is omitted.
In resolutions and decisions of United Nations bodies, the URL for a website is always given in a footnote but the words “Available from” are omitted.
Updating Internet references
Internet sources are often subject to change. The reference will need to be updated if the source has been moved to another site. Authors should verify the URL for each Internet source immediately before submitting their documents and publications for editing. Editors will check and update the sources to the extent possible.
When citing Internet material that is likely to be revised, in particular time-sensitive information that may be updated, authors should provide the date on which they retrieved the information. The date is given in parentheses at the end of the footnote: (accessed 1 July 2009).
Editors should test the URL provided for a source to make sure that it is correct. If it is not, they should find a website that contains the identical material and substitute the new URL in the reference, giving a new access date when necessary.
When the material cannot be found on another site, the outdated URL should be deleted. Editors should check with the author or consulting official when the deletion may require a change in the content of the text.
Sources available in print and electronic form
When an outside source is available in both print and electronic form, authors should normally cite the version they actually used since the print and electronic versions may not be identical. Electronic sources that also exist in print are cited in the same way as the print version with the addition of an Internet address or an indication of the electronic medium (e.g. CD-ROM or e-book). When the publication dates of the print and electronic versions differ, the date of the version used should be given in the reference.
Special instructions apply to material issued by the United Nations in print and electronic form (see General instructions on footnotes and text notes/Electronic sources/United Nations sources available online). For documents and publications issued by organizations in consultative or observer status with the United Nations, online references may be cited when the print version is not available.
Material available on the Official Document System website. United Nations masthead documents and supplements to the Official Records are issued in print and on the Official Document System (ODS) website (http://ods.un.org). They should always be cited as described under United Nations sources. As the print version, not the electronic version, is considered definitive, the ODS website should not be included in any references.
Material not available on the Official Document System website. Most United Nations sales publications are issued in print but not on the ODS website. They are normally identified by their sales number (see United Nations sources/Sales publications). When an office or department of the United Nations Secretariat makes an electronic version of a print publication available on its own website, the URL may be added to the reference as an aid to readers. The reference to the electronic version is optional.
A URL should be given when referencing online databases and other material posted by offices or departments of the United Nations Secretariat on their own websites and not issued in print under an official document symbol. Such material includes background reports, statements and meeting summaries.
A URL may also be given for material issued by an outside organization and made available on a Secretariat website, such as regional agreements and programmes of action, when the material is not available in print. For examples, see United Nations sources/ Material on the website of an office or department.
Guidelines on Internet publishing. For guidelines on Internet publishing in the United Nations and on publishing in an electronic format, see administrative instructions ST/AI/2001/5 and ST/AI/189/Add.28.
The names of authors are normally given as they appear on the work cited. The form used (full first and middle names or initials and last name) should match that on the title page of the book or on the article cited. When a work has more than three authors, only the first author is listed, followed by “and others”.
Organization as author and publisher. When an organization is both author and publisher (no separate publisher is indicated on the title page of the book or publication), the name is normally given in the author’s place and omitted from the publishing data. The name of the organization is spelled out, not abbreviated, unless the abbreviation has been defined in the text or a list of abbreviations at the beginning of the text.
Titles and subtitles
When a work has a title and subtitle, both are normally included in footnotes. Titles and subtitles are separated by a colon. A second subtitle is separated by a dash.
Titles of books, publications, periodicals and newspapers are italicized. Titles of articles, internal documents, unpublished works and most research reports are set in standard (roman) font and enclosed in quotation marks. The titles of databases, websites and most series (not the Official Records series or the Treaty Series) are set in standard font without quotation marks.
Works not translated. The title of a work that has not been translated into the language of the document in which the reference appears is normally given in the language of publication. Titles of Arabic, Chinese and Russian works are transliterated when they appear in texts issued in other languages.
Titles of works in another language should not be underlined. They are set out in the normal way (e.g. the title of a book or periodical is italicized and the title of an article is enclosed in quotation marks). A translation of the title may be given in parentheses after the title of the published language version when necessary. The translated title is not italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. For additional information, see United Nations sources/ Sales publications/ Publications not issued in all languages.
Titles and subtitles of books, publications, periodicals, newspapers, series, databases and websites are capitalized. Initial capital letters are used for all words except articles, conjunctions and prepositions unless they are the first or last word in the title or subtitle.
In references to any other sources, including masthead documents, articles in a book or periodical, material on a website and unpublished works, only the first word of the title (but not the subtitle), proper nouns and adjectives and recognized geographical names are capitalized.
References to specific elements in a source
References used to substantiate statements or identify items mentioned in a text should be as specific as possible, indicating the relevant paragraphs or chapter and section, annex, appendix, table or figure in the source.
Page numbers can be given when there is no alternative, as in a reference for a source that does not contain numbered sections or paragraphs. Page numbers are always used in references to advisory opinions, judgments and orders of the International Court of Justice.
Use of “see”
When the statement or item being referenced does not correspond to the whole of the final element cited (e.g. to the entire section of the report), the reference should be introduced by “See”. Examples are given throughout these instructions. “See” is not used when the reference is to a page number.
The words listed below designating parts of a work are abbreviated as shown when they are used in footnotes and other references. They should never be abbreviated when they occur in a sentence or when used without a numeral.
The following should never be abbreviated:
In legal texts, the abbreviations “art.” and “arts.” may be used for “article” and “articles”.
References to page and paragraph numbers in the plural are given as shown:
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