How to Cite Sources in Your ManuscriptNonfiction authors know the importance of citing sources in their work. But sometimes it can get confusing figuring out how to correctly quote and give credit to your sources within your text without losing your flow of thought. When it comes to citing sources in your manuscript, there are some general style guidelines to follow. If you’re working with a major publisher, ask them for their style guide. They’ll also most likely have a staff proofreader who may be helping you with this aspect.

Scholarly writers, or those in the academic realm, follow specific style guides (APA or MLA are two examples), and while you could certainly pick up an APA or MLA handbook to make sure you’re following citation guidelines as closely as possible, you can also follow some guidelines that are common to pretty much every style guide out there.

If you’re self-publishing, you need to follow your own guidelines, or find a reputable source to use. We recommend Chicago Manual of Style (

Some Basics to Follow:

  • Titles of books and reports are typically italicized in in-text citations.
  • Put titles of articles in quotation marks.
  • Be sure to include the author’s (or authors’) first/last name(s), source title, and publication year.
  • If your work is more scholarly in nature, include the page number(s) on which your quoted text appears.

Following are several formatting options. Whichever style you choose, be sure to use it consistently throughout your manuscript.

Option 1: Simple In-Text Citation

With this format, simply state the author and date, or author, publication name and publication date, in parentheses directly after the quote. There are no endnotes for these citations, but we still recommend including a complete list of cited works at the end of your book.


“If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you” (Natalie Goldberg, Writing Down the Bones: Freeing the Writer Within, 2nd edition, Shambhala 2005).

This can get rather cumbersome, so if your text includes a lot of citations, we recommend option 2:

Option 2: Endnotes

Endnotes, which are sources cited at the end of the chapter or book, are a more efficient way to cite your sources. To utilize this option, place superscripted numbers (in chronological order) after a quote, followed by a Notes page that you’ll put at the end of the book. Here’s an example of how it would appear in the text:

“If you are not afraid of the voices inside you, you will not fear the critics outside you.”1                  

Then, for each of your sources, insert an entry that will appear in your “Notes” section at the end of the chapter or book. Entries would look similar to those in the in-text version, and at a minimum should include the author, publication name, and publication date.

Make sure the order of the sources on the Notes page follows the order the sources appear in the book.

Here’s a link to some info on creating endnotes:

For a more in-depth look at how to cite specific types of publications, visit
Citation Machine: Website where you can plug in the book details and it will come up with a citation for you:

Amberly Finarelli has worked in the publishing and writing world for the past 10+ years as a literary agent, manuscript evaluator, copy editor, proofreader, and writer. She currently produces content for the Nonfiction Authors Association’s blog in addition to running her own editorial business. You can reach her at

If you like this blog post, you’ll love the recordings from our previous Nonfiction Writers Conference events. Check it out!