At one point or another, most copyeditors have to deal with citations. They might be footnotes or endnotes, bibliographies, or references, but our job generally is to clean them up. We make sure all the necessary details are there, sometimes with the help of resources like BibMe (see our October–November 2014 newsletter for a review). We also ensure citations follow the style manual assigned to the project, often by flipping through pages and pages of citations.
What happens, though, when the source is something your style manual doesn’t exactly cover?
Check the Manual
Your first step is to check your style manual for a similar citation you can tweak. Let’s say your author cites an anonymous report published by a corporation that you can download from a website. Such a report is a standalone work, like a book or a journal; it’s not a part of a larger work. If you’re using The Chicago Manual of Style, you can use a book citation (14.68–14.169). When the author’s name is unknown, you simply omit that information, starting the citation with the title (14.79). And when the work can be found online, Chicago recommends including the URL or DOI (14.4). So our endnote or footnote citation might look like this:
- 2013/2014 Global Fraud Report (Kroll/Economist IntelligenceUnit, 2014), http://fraud.kroll.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/GlobalFraudReport_2013-14_WEB.pdf.
The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), on the other hand, identifies the publishing corporation, government agency, association, or other group as the author. Here’s our sample, in bibliography format:
Kroll, Economist Intelligence Unit. (2014). 2013/2014 global fraud report. Retrieved from http://fraud.kroll.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/10/GlobalFraudReport_2013-14_WEB.pdf
Depending on your style manual, you may have lots of citation styles to choose from. Choose the one (or more) that most closely relates to the source you need to cite.
If your own style manual doesn’t cover a specific reference type, check another manual. While you may have to reformat the citation, you’ll discover what information other publication professionals think is necessary for the readers.
If nothing in the style manual is close enough to the source you have, you may have to write your own citation style. I’ll go over how to do that next week.