Editorial Manual | Footnotes and other references

I. Introduction

Footnotes and text notes (references given in parentheses within the text) are used:

  • To identify direct and indirect quotations, sources used in preparing a text and items such as reports, treaties, conventions and plans of action specifically mentioned in the text
  • To substantiate statements made in the text
  • To provide cross references to information contained in another part of the text
  • To present explanatory or supplementary information that is not appropriate within the body of the text

Reference lists and bibliographies are used primarily in publications and occasionally in documents to replace or supplement footnotes and text notes.

For instructions on the use and style of footnotes in tables, see TablesFor guidelines on the style used for references in legal texts, including documents of the International Law Commission, consult the Codification Division of the Office of Legal Affairs.

Authors have the primary responsibility for providing complete and accurate references to document their sources. Editors are responsible for:

  • Ensuring that references conform to United Nations style
  • Ensuring that references are as complete and accurate as possible
  • Providing additional references when necessary
  • Deleting unnecessary references

References are provided for the items listed under General instructions on footnotes and text notes/When to use footnotes and text notes. For specific instructions on the elements included in footnotes and text notes, see United Nations sources and Outside sources.

Authors should cite only sources that are strictly relevant and necessary. Commonly known or easily verifiable facts do not require a source note (see also Excessive referencing).