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Literature (including literature references or references mentioned) are references that clearly on references refer. They are an integral part of scientific texts . References are usually given in footnotes and / or summarized in a list of references or a bibliography .


Despite common principles, there is no generally applicable , uniform system for references and citation styles . The different styles differ not only according to the type of publication and subject area, even individual journals sometimes have their own specifications. The reference management program EndNote currently (as of September 2014) knows more than 5000 different formats, to which more can be added.

In Germany there is, among other things, the DIN 1505 title information for literature . At the international level there are the ISO 690 documentation standards ; Title information; Content, form and design and information and documentation - Title information - Part 2: Electronic documents or their parts .

Today, two groups of conventions have become generally accepted, the international citation style from the Anglo-Saxon region (it prefers the very simple rule of comma separation, but does not distinguish between the individual components) and the German tradition, which is essentially based on the basic rules of " Prussian Instructions ”and the rules for alphabetical cataloging (RAK). The latter have the advantage that you can distinguish the individual components of the title quotation from the punctuation. There are also numerous other variants. The individual components are explained below.


There is no generally applicable system in science for the citation in a book, a newspaper article or an essay in specialist literature. Usages can depend on the subject, on the university or on the country. These traditions are, however, strictly observed internally, because the aim is to make work easier for readers who want to use this information to prepare further work. If the information were given in motley colors, the readers of the bibliography would have to constantly check whether they were looking for something z. B. have already recorded it elsewhere or whether it just appears as something new because of a different name.

The references should therefore be useful for the respective purpose. In a daily newspaper , the reference to a book about horticulture will look different than when searching for it on the Internet or when it is about information in a dissertation . If there are several books by the same author, the references must also enable the different books or articles to be clearly distinguished.

Basic rule no. 1: For clear identification, for the purpose of retrieval, ordering in libraries, compiling literature lists, entering into databases, etc., the following minimum set of information is generally required. These should always be given. Additional information can, but does not necessarily have to be added:

(given here in the basic typographical form, the layout )

  • Author: Title. Place year of publication.


'Author' can mean very different things:

  • a single person who has published something:
    • z. For example: "Friedrich von Schiller:" or: "Schiller, Friedrich von:" The second form was traditionally used for literacy in index cards and lists. It is better suited for automatic sorting in word processing programs, but is no longer a mandatory requirement in IT today. If several references are listed one below the other, this form has another strength: the lines begin with a surname and since the surname is sorted, the human eye can orient itself more quickly to which letter the surname of the respective line begins. Otherwise, the first name (s) must (mentally) first be skipped in order to identify the sorting criterion . Because the length of the first names is so different that it may well be that the first name “runs” in the line above, while the last name has already started in the next line.

example 1

Friedrich von Schiller: Wilhelm Tell's apprenticeship years in St. Gallen.
Friedrich Gernot Eberhard Scholl: My name is Rauch.

Example 2

Schiller, Friedrich von: Wilhelm Tell's apprenticeship years in St. Gallen.
Scholl, Friedrich Gernot Eberhard: My name is Rauch.

In example 2 it is also clear where the first names begin or end because of the sequence. This would not be recognizable in example 1 with unfamiliar or foreign-language names. In this respect, practice in the local lexicon deviates from this goal of clarity.

  • a team of authors:
    • z. For example: "Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph B. Johnson, John Vlissides:" or: "Gamma, Erich / Helm, Richard / Johnson, Ralph B./Vlissides, John:" The actual order of the authors' information is in the Book title decisive. It must not be rearranged according to alphabet or the like.
    • The more recent spelling is: "Gamma Erich, Helm Richard, Johnson Ralph B., Vlissides John:". So without any separation between the name components - the order must be observed: Surname, first name (s), surname, first name (s), surname, first name (s), etc. That means, the next surname always follows after a comma.
    • In the spelling with the last name first, analogous to the above example 2: “Gamma, Erich; Helm, Richard; Johnson, Ralph B .; Vlissides, John ”. The advantages of Example 2 also come into play here. In practice, in this variant, the space in front of the descriptor "j" provided for in DIN 1502-2 is left out.
  • the editor of a publication in which different people have published something:
    • z. B .: "Amelie Soyka (Ed.):" Or: "Soyka, Amelie (Ed.):"
  • an institution as publisher:
    • z. B .: "Brockhaus-Verlag (Ed.):"
  • an unknown person who has published something:
    • usually this is marked with the letters NN (for non nominatur = no name) or with o. A. (no information), or older anonymous (anonymous).

Translators of foreign-language texts are, from a copyright point of view, their "German authors", so they must be named directly after the original authors with the addition (transl.) In the case of a complete bibliography. Certain important works in scientific literature are also differentiated precisely according to the translation. In many cases, translators with this addition are only named after the work title.

These names must correspond to the information in the book, essay, etc. in a strict title recording . The form should be standardized in bibliographies. If there are several names, the abbreviation of the first names (e.g. "E. Gamma") is sometimes helpful. It is important to ensure that the authors do not only differ by their first names (e.g. BE Berhard Richter , E. ugen Richter ). In the German tradition, especially according to the Prussian Instructions , there is always a colon at the end of the author's statement to indicate that the title begins after that. (The colon clearly identifies the author or authors and should therefore only appear once in the entire title.) Unlike in the Anglo-Saxon (also international) tradition, almost all components are separated by commas , just not the surnames and first names.

When naming the author (in the case of a publication), an academic degree or social title must never be given (exceptions can be historical book titles, which are quoted almost completely and unchanged.). In principle, this is left out of the literature. (A principle of today's dealings with one another in the scientific community ). On the other hand, the (former) aristocratic predicate you is handled differently from in the country way. Austria has the simplest solution for bibliographing: There are no more titles of nobility. In many sets of rules they are added to the last first name, while others put them before the first surname. That means, all persons marked with "from" appear there together in the last quarter of the alphabetical index after the names with U like Ubu, Unger, Ultra etc.

Does a book already have an author, e.g. B. for classics and sources, but has been newly edited by an editor, add the editor after the title, in the form ( sample ):

Herodotus : histories . Ed., Newly translated, improved, revised, commented and re-edited by Josef Feix. Publisher, location year. ISBN XXXXXXXX. Here, too, you should limit yourself to the bare essentials.


The title (headline) and any subtitles must be complete and separated and terminated by a period. ( Or, as an exception, with a question mark, if it was printed that way ). In general, the title and the citation as a whole are concluded by a period, so they are clearly recognizable. A comma is also used in international usage.

Deviating information on the book cover and the relevant page in the book represent a small problem. There are always deviations. Actually, the relevant page in the book is the sheet on which the publisher and possibly the citation of the respective national library are named. This page is also called front page .

  • z. B .:
Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides: Dance and dance and nothing but dance. Modern dancers from Josephine Baker to Mary Wigman.

Sometimes the (main) title is written in italics or bold:

  • z. B .:
Erich Gamma, Richard Helm, Ralph Johnson, John Vlissides: Dance and dance and nothing but dance . Modern dancers from Josephine Baker to Mary Wigman.

In general, the following rule also applies here: If the title is strictly scientific, e.g. B. Within a library or bibliography one should orientate oneself as closely as possible to the original, with a bibliography that is used for an overview, for reference, or for reference, one should make a standardization and reduction to the essentials. Subtitles can be omitted or reduced. In contrast to journals , series titles are not mandatory for monographs and can, but do not have to, be given. In each case the main title has primacy, the series title is secondary.


By specifying the place of publication , books can be found more easily in library directories (e.g. for remote lending) or in bibliographies because the author and his book are classified more precisely. What is meant is always the seat of the publisher who (has) published the work. The location therefore gives an indication of the possible publishers (for one subject there are usually not that many in one location). Its specification is therefore mandatory. The publisher's information, however, is not; although it is also recommended.

If several places are named for the publisher, it is sufficient to cite the first place name. The usual additions “u. a. "can be omitted in literature lists or directories. In historical studies, however, it is customary to list up to 3 places of publication in the bibliography.

In older books the location is often missing, then you write: o. O. (without location). If the printing location can be determined indirectly (name of the printer, letters used , watermarks, etc.), it is usually added in square brackets.

The place is not closed by a punctuation mark, the year of publication follows directly. In the international notation, a comma also follows here.


The year differentiates between several identical or similar publications by the authors and shows the degree of novelty. It can therefore also be a distinguishing feature and reference to the edition of a book. If the year is missing: no year (no year). If the year is determined (it is not in the imprint ), it is put in square brackets in a strictly scientific manner .

The year is the last basic component of the title recording and therefore it ends with a point. In the International Convention , a comma is also used here if further information follows, otherwise the punctuation mark is omitted. In some sets of rules, the year of publication directly follows the author's information and is put in brackets. When sorting, this has the advantage that this information is quickly recognized and a chronological order can easily be created.

Further information depending on the purpose

The publisher is usually separated by a colon after the place (the word “publisher” can be omitted in most cases). Specifying the publisher is optional, but specifying the location is mandatory.

The simplest way of specifying the edition is to put an exponent immediately before the year (e.g. 2 1996). Alternatively, it can be written out (e.g. 2nd edition) in front of the site. Such an indication is of course only useful from the 2nd edition, whereby the year of the first edition can be added.

More information depending on the purpose can be: Werkausgabe, Series, volume in pages, ISBN , details of illustrations or book presentation, location reporting in important library ( Sigel ); References to related topics, authors or other lists; Keywords for the index (subject catalog); Machine code that can be read automatically would also be conceivable .


Example of monographs:

  • Otfried Höffe, Immanuel Kant, Munich: Beck 2007.

Example of articles in edited volumes:

  • Hugo Bergmann, Martin Buber and the mysticism , in: Paul Arthur Schilpp and Maurice Friedman (eds.), Martin Buber , Stuttgart: Kohlhammer 1963, 265–274. 

Example of magazine articles:

  • Troels Engberg-Pedersen, More on Aristotelean Epagoge , in: Phronesis 24 (1979), 301-319, here 315.

Notes on websites

The exact URL is given, not just the start page, as well as the date and time of day of the call. For example:

If the authors of the web pages are unknown, the pages are sorted alphabetically by title. Here it would be “Boudicca”.

Bibliography for citations

When quoting, the following basic rules apply: The quotation must be precise; H. until the details of orthography and punctuation match the original. The only change is a grammatical adaptation of the quotation to the new sentence context without any labeling. But it must not change the meaning or sentence structure .

Shorter verbatim quotations are placed in double quotation marks directly in the text (preferably in italics according to the longer quotations). The bibliography (with page number) can be in brackets or in a footnote .

Often the abbreviated information is used in brackets or in the footnote, which refers to the exact, detailed information in the bibliography at the end:

  • z. E.g .: (Juchli, 1974, p. 371)
  • or: (Boudicca loc. cit.)

Longer quotations can be separated from the rest of the text as a separate, indented paragraph block in a smaller font size - without quotation marks, but usually in italics. Also then the source information in brackets or a footnote.

Which form of the note is used (e.g. footnotes ) depends on the usefulness considerations of the publisher, the editor or the author, also on the amount of citations, and in the case of examination papers also on the preference of the examiner. Anyone can put brackets in the running text. Whether written by hand, typewriter or PC, they remain unchanged where they are needed. Their disadvantage is that they interrupt the flow of reading while recording text. If comments are provided with footnotes or endnotes in scientific papers anyway, the citations are usually given in a shortened form. The exact bibliographic information can be found at the end of the work in the bibliography. Most word processing programs offer the option of automatically creating footnotes, and experienced users can often use this text program to compile the bibliography from the footnotes.

See also


  • Robert Dittrich: To the source of quotations. In: Copyright in the Information Age. Festschrift for Wilhelm Nordemann. Munich 2004, ISBN 3-406-51683-1 , pp. 617-624.
  • University of Chicago : The Chicago Manual of Style. Univ. of Chicago Press, Chicago 2003, 15th ed., ISBN 0-226-10403-6 , pp. 593-640.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. EndNote Output Styles. Thomson Reuters , September 1, 2014, accessed September 1, 2014 .