Thursday, November 07, 2013


For my sins, today, I was flung into the world of the Chicago Manual of Style, their referencing system and academic bibliographies (is there any other sort?). Academic bibliographies throw up all sorts of wonders: the occasional little pile up of quote marks, with the title of a referenced work referencing the quote of another work - or the author of a non-referenced work being referenced due to a reference to them in a referenced work (if that makes sense), making you wonder whether to reference them or if there are already too many references (yes). The best bits, of course, are where the author of the work that the bibliography is attached to gracefully descends from their authorial heights to reference themselves, in the third person, in the same bibliography: don't we all want to do that, really?

Funnily enough, the very first reference that I had to file away in the bibliography was a real puzzler. It almost drove me insane, and I'm still not sure I tackled it in the correct way. It posed a very particular problem:

How, precisely, does one go about referencing a defunct UK law in the Chicago referencing system? The law in question was a very important law, and led to a very significant circumstance that was mentioned in the work to which the bibliography was appended. It really ought to be mentioned. But how?

Pondering on this, I got a little crazy. Then I got frightened: would I be able to even get past the first reference? Then I got an itchy head. Then I got distracted by a picture of a cat on facebook. Then I got the handy idea of asking everyone else about it. Then I got distracted by all the answers or should that be then I got answered by all the distractions that people came up with. Then I got down a copy of The Chicago Manual of Style, edition 14, that,bizarrely, happened to be on my desk (no, I don't know how it got there, either). Then I got up and got a biscuit. Then I got back in my chair and checked my email. Then I decided: I would reference it in any damn way that I felt like.

But how exactly did I feel like referencing a law again? Not very much, thank you. In the end, I opted for writing the name of the law down in the bibliography, somewhere in the middle. I think I mentioned 'parliament' too, to note that that is where it originated from and give it a lovely sense of variety, adding a homely touch to an otherwise plain computer screen. You're welcome.

Then I got up and got five more biscuits. Gosh, doing bibliographies is hard work.


thewaysheworetime said...

Did you ask any lawyers? They'd be the ones to know, surely.

TimT said...

I put up a general cry for help on facebook. Lawyers will have seen it! I think the poor academics and legal academics are all buried in exam marking at the moment though.

Email: timhtrain - at -

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