How to reference historical sources

The Wallace Monument
© History Skills

Referencing systems are the best way to avoid plagiarism.


Plagiarism is the act of presenting another person's words, research, or ideas as if they were your own. Any part of your work that is plagiarised cannot contribute to your mark.


Therefore, the more of your essay that is plagiarised, the harder it is for you to get good marks for your work.

There is nothing wrong with using the ideas of other writers, but it is necessary to show when you have done so through an academic referencing system.


Different schools used different systems of referencing. This guide uses the APA Referencing System. Take the time to learn the requirements of the system.


The more you practice, the more it will become ‘second nature’ to you.


There are three ways you can reference sources:


Whenever you use a direct or indirect quote in a sentence, you need to indicate what source the information came from. You do this with in-text referencing.

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Many primary sources are not in written form and trying to describe them in an essay is difficult. This can often occur when you are referring to a particular building or artefact. In these cases, providing an image of the source is helpful for the reader.

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A list of all cited source materials, known as a bibliography, must be included at the end of your essay. A History bibliography is divided into two sections: primary sources and secondary sources. Each of these sections need to be in alphabetical order.

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