Blog Citation Format

Steve (aka StePHen) Bainbridge notes that the Bluebook style guide used for legal scholarship uses a near-useless citation format for blogs: Blog Name, URL (Month Day, Year, Hour:Minutes CST).

It’s quite odd to me that blogs would be treated differently than any other online magazine in this regard. I’ve lately taken to italicizing blog names in that same way I would a magazine or newspaper’s online sites. It seems the most obvious choice. Indeed, I can’t think of a reason offhand for treating them differently. Certainly, it’s not quality, as even the lousiest local paper (and believe me, many are indescribably bad) are cited exactly the same way as the New York Times or The Atlantic Monthly.

My academic prejudice is towards the old-style Chicago Manual of Style citations, preferably using footnotes rather than end notes. I prefer to have as much information as possible about the author’s name, irrespective of whether it introduces any gender biases into my subconscious. I despise parenthetical citations, which not only disrupt the flow of the words but give too little information to easily verify that it actually says what it’s purported to say. I believe Lee Harvey Oswald acted alone. I believe there ought to be a constitutional amendment outlawing Astroturf and the designated hitter. But I digress.

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James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. Bithead says:

    So, a a simple link doesn’t do it, as a citation? After all, the style in question became the standard long before there was hypertext.

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    My general preference when referring to a blog by name is to italicize it as I would a magazine or newspaper. However, when I link to a post on a blog I tend to do no additional font specification. The display handling of the hyperlink anchor is sufficient in that case and would become confusing if more were done.

  3. Triumph says:

    I despise parenthetical citations, which not only disrupt the flow of the words but give too little information to easily verify that it actually says what it’s purported to say.

    This must be some subconscious reaction to reading all the exciting AJPS and APSR articles in grad school.

  4. James Joyner says:

    So, a a simple link doesn’t do it, as a citation? After all, the style in question became the standard long before there was hypertext.

    That’s fine for informal writing. That’s how TCS Daily handles online citation, for example. But in scholarly works, one wants to be able to, at a glance, see who is being cited, what the date was, etc. Having to click through the links takes much more time.

    And it’s not exactly easy to click the link from a dead tree journal, anyway. And the URL would be meaningless in most cases, especially for those blogs whose archiving style does not involve post titles but rather appends a number or some such.

  5. James Joyner says:

    This must be some subconscious reaction to reading all the exciting AJPS and APSR articles in grad school.

    Probably. Plus, I was taught Chicago (actually, Turabian) as an undergrad and prefer its detail.

    I didn’t enjoy having to actually TYPE footnotes, however, back in the days before word processing. Indeed, parenthetical cites came about, I’m sure, because of that difficulty. The computer has long since obviated that rationale, though.

  6. Triumph says:

    The computer has long since obviated that rationale, though.

    Especially with programs like “Endnote” which not only auto-formats to any of the major citation schemes, but it will also get the cite directly from a web-connected database so you NEVER have to type in a citation!

    It is really awesome software. Im not sure how it treats blogs, though.

  7. John Burgess says:

    The academic British preference is for parenthetical citations, as I learned from helping a British friend with her thesis. It has merits, but I prefer the Turabian as that’s what I was brung up on.

    I do think it important to cite the date on which an on-line resource was accessed, however, as links do break or otherwise change. At least one can use one of the ‘way back machines’ to check the citation as of the date.

    I tend to put blog names in quotation marks when I’m writing for paper or not hyperlinking to the site. I treat blogs more like magazines than books. I can shift that to italics if some sort of consensus evolves.

  8. James Joyner says:

    I tend to put blog names in quotation marks when I’m writing for paper or not hyperlinking to the site. I treat blogs more like magazines than books. I can shift that to italics if some sort of consensus evolves.

    A consensus seems to be forming to italicize book titles as well as periodical names, whether magazines, academic journals, or newspapers. There’s still some variation, though.

  9. John Burgess says:

    I know a lot of the grammar and punctuation rules I learned in schools–and when working as a professional copy-editor and typesetter–have gradually changed over the past 50 years. Because of that, I’m sensitive to the fact that how various classes of printed materials are punctuated are liable to change. Until they settle down a bit, though, I’ll stick with what I’m used to.

    But I have been waiting anxiously, for nearly an equal time, for elementary school science books to wake up to the fact that there are more than three states of matter! Even when I was a kid, plasma was known. Now, with the Bose-Einstein state, and I gather perhaps another one or two, I think we can take the risk of confusing kids until they learn it right. Why wait until university?

  10. Bithead says:

    That’s fine for informal writing. That’s how TCS Daily handles online citation, for example. But in scholarly works, one wants to be able to, at a glance, see who is being cited, what the date was, etc. Having to click through the links takes much more time.

    Interesting. Though, I have seen a hypertext version of that kind of citation, wherein the citation material (time, date, page, etc. ) ‘pops’ when you roll over the link. Seems an interesting compromise.

    and that strikes me as important, going forward, because…, while you point out, correctly, that…

    … it’s not exactly easy to click the link from a dead tree journal, anyway.

    … I don’t see that being a consideration, for much longer. The technology seems to have changed how we deal with such matters, already, in terms of how such writings are generated…. What has not caught up, is how such matters are read.

    What I’m suggesting, is that it probably won’t be long before some accommodation is given even in formal writings, to a technology that exists, today.

    Interestingly, the ones who are the first to get over that reluctance to deal with that particular issue, are the ones who are going to set the standards.