United Nations Editorial Manual Online
Footnotes and other references
III. United Nations sources
A. Masthead documents
The instructions and examples given below apply to sources cited in footnotes and text notes. For instructions on sources given in reference lists and bibliographies, see Reference lists and bibliographies.
Elements in the reference
United Nations masthead documents are identified by:
When the exact title of a document must be given (e.g. when the title contains a colon), it is enclosed in quotation marks and the first word, proper nouns and adjectives and recognized geographical names are capitalized. Descriptive titles are not enclosed in quotation marks and the first word of the title is not capitalized.
Documents cited in text notes. In documents, supplements and publications, the symbol of the masthead document being cited is given in parentheses in the text, normally after the full title or description. When a title or description is shortened, the symbol should be placed so as to avoid any possible ambiguity, as shown below in the third example.
Documents cited in footnotes. In resolutions and decisions, document symbols are given in footnotes. The indicator should be placed after the full title or description of the report or other item being cited unless the reference would be ambiguous. The indicator should always be positioned so as to leave no doubt about the subject of the reference.
Note: When the title of the report cited is the same as the title of the resolution in which the reference appears, the descriptive title is shortened to "the report of the Secretary-General". Several reports on the subject of the resolution may be referred to collectively as "the relevant reports of the Secretary-General".
Documents issued under a double symbol
Documents issued for two intergovernmental bodies (e.g. the General Assembly and the Security Council) have a double symbol (e.g. A/55/305-S/2000/809). Both symbols, joined by a hyphen, are included in a footnote or text note.
There are exceptions to this practice. In the annual report of the Security Council to the General Assembly and the Repertoire of the Practice of the Security Council, for example, only the Security Council symbol of the source document (the "S/" part of the double symbol) is cited. In the previous example, only "S/2000/809" would be cited.
Addenda and corrigenda
In a reference to a document as a whole, all addenda (Add.) issued to the document should be included, as well as any corrigenda (Corr.) issued in the language of the text in which the reference appears. In an English text, for example, only the corrigenda to the English source document are cited; in a French text, only the corrigenda issued in French are cited.
In a reference to a specific part of a document, the addenda are included only if they relate directly to the part cited. All corrigenda issued in the language of the text should be included in the reference whether or not they relate specifically to the part cited.
The symbol of each corrigendum or addendum should normally be written out in full. If there are a number of symbols in the text and doing so would overly clutter it, the symbols may be included in a footnote rather than in a text note. Footnotes that include long series of addenda or corrigenda may also be cited as follows if including the full symbols would result in too lengthy a list: S/2017/10, S/2017/10/Corr.1 and S/2017/10/Add.1–52. See also Statements and oral reports made before a United Nations body below, for the similar treatment of summary records and verbatim records in references.
In the first example given below, the addenda are included because the report is being cited as a whole. In the second example, the addenda are omitted because they do not relate specifically to the section cited.
Note: A report and its addendum or addenda are referred to as the "report" (singular) unless they have different titles.
When the reference is to an addendum alone, the document symbol of the parent document should not be included. Corrigenda are not normally cited alone.
Documents with several addenda and corrigenda. A reference to a document with several addenda and corrigenda should indicate clearly, through the order, which corrigenda belong to each element.
* * *
Note: In a reference with several addenda and corrigenda, use "and" before the final symbol only.
References to items contained in a source document
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. When the item does not correspond to the whole of the final element cited (e.g. to the entire section of the report cited), the reference should be introduced by "See". In the following example, the footnote begins with "See" because the reference is to the conclusions and recommendations that make up part of section III, not to the section as a whole.
Several sources in one footnote
Documents issued for the same body. In a footnote containing two or more document symbols, the symbols of documents issued for the same body are normally listed in chronological and numerical order, the earliest session and lowest document (serial) number first.
Documents issued for different bodies. When documents issued for different bodies are cited in the same footnote, the symbols are normally listed alphabetically (e.g. A/ documents, E/ documents, S/ documents), chronologically and numerically, the earliest session and lowest document (serial) number first. The documents of a parent body precede those of a subsidiary body (e.g. all the A/ documents are grouped and listed before the A/C.5/ documents). Within each group, documents given limited distribution (those in which the document number is preceded by an "L") are listed after documents given general distribution.
Supplements and masthead documents cited in same footnote. When a supplement to the Official Records is cited in the same footnote as a masthead document, the supplement is normally listed first (see United Nations sources/Reports issued as supplements to the Official Records). The references in the footnote are separated by a semi-colon.
Exceptions to the normal order of listing. The normal order of listing may be changed when documents or elements contained therein are mentioned in a different order in the text.
Elements in the reference
The reports of intergovernmental bodies required to report to the General Assembly or the Economic and Social Council are issued as supplements in the Official Records series.
In resolutions and decisions, a supplement is cited in a footnote containing the following elements:
The title of the report (e.g. Report of the Committee for Programme and Coordination) is not included in the footnote.
In documents and publications, supplements may be cited by giving the document symbol in a text note after the descriptive title of the report.
Supplements to the Official Records of the Economic and Social Council. The reports of subsidiary bodies of the Economic and Social Council are issued as supplements with two symbols (a Council symbol and a symbol of the subsidiary body) but only the Council symbol is given as a reference in other documentation, as shown in the preceding example.
Addenda to supplements
In references to supplements to which one or more addenda have been issued, the word "addendum" or "addenda" is included when the main report and the addendum or addenda have the same supplement number (Supplement No. 21). When an addendum is denoted by a number and a letter (Supplement No. 5A), thereby distinguishing it from the main report (Supplement No. 5), the word "addendum" is omitted from the footnote.
References to items contained in a supplement
References to items contained in a supplement should normally indicate the chapter and section or paragraphs in which the item can be found. When the item is part of the final element cited (e.g. part of a section or paragraph) but does not correspond to the whole element, the reference should begin with "See". In the following example, the first reference is to one item (the declaration) contained in chapter I, section A, not to the section as a whole; the second reference, introduced by "see also", is not to the decision as a whole but only to the declaration contained in the decision.
Elements in the reference
Most United Nations publications are issued with a sales number. They are cited in a footnote containing the elements listed below. A footnote will not necessarily contain every element listed, but the information should be presented in the order indicated.
Title given in the text. When the title of a publication is given in the text, it is omitted from the footnote and the sales number is not enclosed in parentheses (see footnote 6 below). When a publication has not yet been issued, "forthcoming" replaces the sales number (see footnote 7).
Publications of United Nations programmes and regional commissions. Publications of United Nations programmes and regional commissions are sometimes published externally without a United Nations sales number. In such cases, the place of publication, publisher and year of publication are given in place of a sales number and the programme or regional commission is shown as author (see footnote 8). Offices and departments of the United Nations Secretariat are not given as authors.
Publications of the specialized agencies. Publications issued by the specialized agencies never have a United Nations sales number and are treated as outside sources (see Outside sources/Books and publications).
Publications issued with a symbol and sales number
In references to publications issued with both a document symbol and a sales number, the symbol is omitted. In the following example, the publication was issued with a sales number and the symbols E/2007/50/Rev.1 and ST/ESA/314 but neither symbol is included in the footnote.
Note: Publications are occasionally issued with a sales number in some language versions and a symbol in others. When there is no sales number for the language version being referenced, the symbol should be used in the reference.
Articles and chapters in a publication
Articles and chapters attributed to individual authors. United Nations publications, in particular those issued as periodicals, may include articles or chapters attributed to individual authors. The following elements are included in a footnote reference:
Chapters not attributed to authors. When chapters are not attributed to individual authors, the chapter number is given at the end of the footnote. The title of the chapter is not normally given.
Yearbooks of the International Law Commission
The records of the International Law Commission are published in yearbooks issued as United Nations sales publications. References made within a yearbook to previous issues should not include the sales number. The sales number is given in all other documents and publications. In some cases, the sales number includes a part number.
When a publication has been issued in one or more languages but not in the language of the text in which the reference appears, the title and sales number of a published language version can be given in the footnote reference. An appropriate explanation should be provided in the footnote. A translation of the title can be given in parentheses after the title of the published language version. The translated title is not italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. For additional information, see General instructions on footnotes and text notes/Points of style/Titles and subtitles/Works not translated.
Most reports of United Nations conferences are issued as publications with a sales number but some are issued only with a symbol, which is given in place of a sales number in a reference. Conference reports are cited in a footnote containing the following elements:
The place and date of the conference are included in the title when they are shown on the cover or title page of the report.
Resolutions and decisions adopted by intergovernmental bodies are identified as described in Resolutions and other formal decisions of United Nations organs/System of identification.
Resolutions and decisions of the major organs
When numbered resolutions and decisions adopted by the General Assembly, Security Council or Economic and Social Council are mentioned in a text, no reference is made to the supplement in the Official Records series in which they are printed.
Decisions without numbers. Decisions of the General Assembly were not numbered until the thirty-first session, in 1976. Decisions of the Economic and Social Council were not numbered until the fifty-sixth session, in 1974. A complete reference should be provided for a decision that is not numbered. The reference should normally specify the section of the supplement containing the decision but the page number may be given when the supplement does not contain sections.
Statements by the President of the Security Council. Statements by the President of the Security Council are decisions of the Council. They are issued as masthead documents and cited by document symbol (S/PRST/__/__) in a report. In resolutions other than Security Council resolutions, a reference to the Resolutions and Decisions of the Security Council is added after the document symbol.
Resolutions and decisions cited in footnotes and text notes. When a resolution or decision or an item therein is mentioned in the text without the resolution or decision number, the number may be provided in a footnote or text note. The date of adoption is omitted from the reference. When a resolution or decision is cited in another resolution issued by the same body, the issuing body is not specified in the footnote.
Resolutions and decisions of subsidiary bodies and United Nations conferences
The first time that a resolution or decision adopted by a subsidiary body of the General Assembly or Economic and Social Council or by a United Nations conference is mentioned in the text, a reference may be given to the supplement or conference report in which the resolution or decision is printed. The same applies to items contained in or annexed to such resolutions and decisions, such as a declaration or plan of action.
Note: "See" is used to introduce the reference in the first example, indicating that the resolution mentioned is only one of many items contained in the text note. "See" is not used in the second example because the Plan of Implementation corresponds to the entire annex cited in the footnote.
Statements and oral reports made before certain United Nations bodies are issued in a summary record (SR) or verbatim record (PV) for each meeting.
Statements and oral reports cited in a document
When statements and oral reports made at a meeting are mentioned in a report, the following information should be given in the text:
The symbol of the summary record or verbatim record is usually given in a footnote (see examples below). The titles of speakers are omitted from a general reference to statements made in the course of the proceedings, as shown in the second example.
Series of summary records or verbatim records should normally be written out in full in a footnote:
However, footnotes that span several sessions and contain references to series of summary records or verbatim records may be cited as follows if including the full symbols would result in too lengthy a list: A/70/PV.1–80 and A/71/PV.1–59. See also Masthead documents above, for the similar treatment of addenda and corrigenda in references.
Statements and oral reports cited in a resolution
In the final version of a resolution or decision, a reference to a statement or an oral report should be given in a footnote containing the full symbol of the summary record or verbatim record.
However, as in the case of statements and oral reports cited in a document, footnotes that span several sessions and contain references to series of summary records or verbatim records may be cited as follows if including the full symbols would result in too lengthy a list:
2 See A/70/PV.1–80 and A/71/PV.1–59.
When treaties, conventions, protocols and other items published in the United Nations or League of Nations Treaty Series are cited in a footnote, which is always the case for United Nations resolutions, the following elements are included:
In reports, it is sufficient to provide the title of the instrument, without providing a reference.
Note: Not all treaties, protocols and conventions are published in the Treaty Series. They may be contained in a document, publication or resolution.
Advisory opinions, judgments and orders of the International Court of Justice should be cited in the style stipulated by the Court itself at the beginning of its report. For a link to reports of the Court, see Sources of information: online.
If no citation style is specified, the guidelines set out below may be followed.
Advisory opinions. Advisory opinions of the International Court of Justice issued in the I.C.J. Reports series should be cited in a footnote containing the following elements:
In resolutions, when the advisory opinion has been reproduced in a United Nations masthead document, that document alone should be cited.
Judgments and orders. The following elements are included in references to judgments and orders of the Court:
Conference room papers, designated by "CRP" in the symbol (e.g. E/2006/CRP.4), are not normally cited because they are not available to most readers. Exceptions are made for conference room papers on which an intergovernmental body takes action or bases its discussion. Major documents issued only in the form of a conference room paper, such as the draft reports of certain intergovernmental bodies, may also be cited when necessary. Such documents are cited in the same way as masthead documents.
Conference room papers containing negotiated texts or working drafts should not be cited if the texts are to be issued in final form as masthead documents or incorporated into a report issued with an official symbol or sales number, such as the report of a United Nations conference.Note: Conference room papers are sometimes included in a list of documents considered by an intergovernmental body in a report on its proceedings.
Restricted documents, designated by an "R" in the symbol (E/CN.6/2008/R.__), are not cited because they normally contain confidential information and are not available to most readers.
Material not issued under a document symbol
References to material on a website that has not been issued under an official document symbol may include the following:
If the website or the material is no longer available through the URL provided, the editor should, in consultation with the author, update the reference.
Information from an online database is cited in a footnote containing the following elements:
Other information, such as a table number or specific links, may be included when appropriate. If the website or the information is no longer available through the URL provided, the editor should, in consultation with the author, update the reference.
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