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Theology and Religious Studies: Citing Your Sources

Chicaco Manual of Style Online

You can find the Chicago Manual of Style online through Copley Library's list of databases here.

Why do you need to cite?

Not sure why you need to bother with citations?  Plagiarism is stealing and is very serious.  Read about it at

Parts of a citation

Each citation, no matter what type of source you are citing, will contain some information about what it is, who created it, and when it was created.


For Books:

  • Author(s) or Editor(s)
  • Title (don't forget subtitles!)
  • Edition (if there is more than one)
  • Publication Date
  • Publisher
  • Place of Publication

For Articles:

  • Author(s)
  • Title of Article(don't forget subtitles!)
  • Title of Journal in which the article appears
  • Publication Date
  • Volume and Issue numbers
  • Page numbers

For Websites:

  • Author(s), Editor(s), or Organization responsible for content
  • Title of website or article 
  • Creation, publication, or revision date
  • Date accessed
  • URL (if a persistent URL is available, use it)

Special circumstances for THRS in MLA Style

From St. Thomas University:


(See Books above for series volume by individual author). In a larger work like a commentary with many essays on specific books or chapters, individual commentaries are often written by separate authors, and not the work's overall editor.  In these cases, the editor is NOT the author. In MLA style the editor need not be listed but, for clarity, many students add the general editor after the book title.


Option 1:
Weems, Renita J. "Song of Songs." The New Interpreter's Bible. Vol. 5. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997.

Option 2:
Weems, Renita J. "Song of Songs." The New Interpreter's Bible. Ed. Leander E. Keck. Vol. 5. Nashville: Abingdon Press, 1997.

See MLA Handbook 4.6.1 etc., for detailed full citation discussion, a list of all elements (in order), and punctuation rules. For endnotes or footnotes see MLA B.1. For the in-text citation option, see MLA 5. 


It is advisable simply to cite by chapter/verses with Scripture abbreviation, chapter/verse placed parenthetically in your text. Do not use an endnote. In the bibliography, list the version/translation of the Bible as given on the title page, making sure the version/translation is indicated even if not actually given on the title page proper. You can add it on your own When citing more than one Bible version in your paper, consult your instructor.

Follow Bible book title abbreviations as in MLA 6.7.1 or as recommended by your instructor

Within the text of your paper:

(Gen 22:10)
(1 Cor 13:5)

In your paper's bibliography (you must indicate the version):

The Holy Bible: New Revised Standard Version. New York: Oxford University, 1996.

Note: Some variations are common in church document citation, depending on audience and sources being cited, or the advice of the instructor.

In MLA style, honorific titles like "Pope," "Father" or "Cardinal" or "D.D." are not added after, or before, a name.

If a document is issued by a constituted church body or organization (rather than by an individual as ecclesiastical authority) use the title page information as far as practicable. Also cite the group's name from the title page, preferring an English version if given (this is often not the case in CLICnet records).

A published work that is issued under authority of the overall Church (like the Catechism, or Vatican II documents) -- not a specific group or person -- is cited ONLY by its title as determined from the title page or the advice of your instructor. That is to say, for example, there is no need to precede a citation with Catholic Church listed as "author." If in doubt, ask your instructor. See examples below.

It is important that a first citation be complete. Subsequently, many well known texts can be cited (in text of your paper, even if using endnotes) simply by customary Latin title (the first few words), if that practice will be clear to your readers.

In theology and church writings, citing the paragraph or section number of a work is regular practice.  This is often preferred over MLA style of page number citation in the actual edition consulted. Nonetheless, it is usually acceptable to use paper numbers from the publication. See MLA 5.4.8 on page numbers taken from copy. Your instructor may ask you to cite by paragraphs or section numbers alone and not page numbers. Always follow your instructor's requirements in every case. Be sure to ask if in doubt.  


John Paul II. Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae: On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life. Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 1995.

First endnote/footnote:

12. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter, Evangelium Vitae: On the Value and Inviolability of Human Life (Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 1995) 7; par. 13.

Subsequent reference:

If the actual copy you used does not include the Latin title on the title page, this Latin title can still be indicated by note or comment. 


13.  Evangelium Vitae 24; par. 4.
In-text: (Evangelium Vitae par. 4) or even  cited as (EV 4) if that would be clear to the reader.  

Other first use examples to use as models: 

Catechism of the Catholic Church: Revised in Accordance with the Official Latin Text Promulgated by Pope John Paul II. 2nd ed.
[Vatican City]: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 1997.  

Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. Letter to the Bishops of the Catholic Church on Some Aspects of Christian Meditation.
Washington: United States Catholic Conference, 1989.  

Tanner, Norman P., ed. Decrees of the Ecumenical Councils. 2 vols. London: Sheed & Ward; Washington: Georgetown University Press, 1990.  

MLA 4.6.10 provides one method for noting documents in a collection (like the Norman Tanner example above). Consult your instructor about other ways of citing individual documents that are published in larger collections.

Here is one example from Tanner:

13. Second Vatican Council, Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen
, Tanner 2 869-870; sec. 7.