How do I find a journal abbreviation?

Thanks to our Saturday librarian Marg Baltzer for this helpful post! – HC

The citation style that I have to use abbreviates the name of the journal. Where can I find the correct abbreviation for the journals that I cite in my paper?

There are four main sources you can use to determine the correct abbreviation. If one source does not list the abbreviation you are looking for, try the next one on the list! (If you are off campus, make sure you login first)

If you try all four sources and still can’t find your abbreviated journal title, don’t make it up! Some journal titles aren’t abbreviated, including some that are just one word titles. Talk with your professor to know how you should proceed!

  1. Ulrich’s Periodical Directory. When you login to Ulrich’s all you need to do is search for the journal name, click on the title and then scroll down to, and click on ‘additional title details’. It may or may not have the abbreviation listed.
  2. Web of Science. In Web of Science, click on the arrow right beside ‘basic search’
    Basic search arrowFrom the drop down list, choose ‘cited reference search’. Under the second search box you will see “view abbreviation list”. From this page, you can navigate to the required journal title
  3. NLM Catalog. On the search page of the National Library of Medicine (PubMed), find and click on ‘Journals in NCBI Databases”. Enter your journal title and the results will give you the correct abbreviation.
    4. Journal Seek. In JournalSeek , simply enter your journal title and if the journal is in their database, the search results will give you the correct abbreviation

How do I cite court decisions or case law?

This question came to me from students in Psychology 3313, but I’ve tried to make my answers as general as possible! – HC

Citing legal information can feel like a really un-fun treasure hunt: our APA citation guide, for example, refers you to the Publication Manual, which refers you to Appendix 7.1 which refers to you to the Bluebook. Then when you look at the Bluebook the examples are American. Annoying.

So, first thing’s first:

  1. What country is your court decision/case from? If it’s American use the Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation. If it’s Canadian, use the Canadian Guide to Uniform Legal Citation instead. Either way, these resources are located in the library’s reference section.  If it’s from outside Canada or the US I would suggest asking a librarian or emailing the Law Library’s reference desk.
  2. Build your citation. If you find the books difficult to understand (e.g. if you’re inexperienced with legal terminology, like me), I recommend checking out one of the following helpful resources for actually creating your citation. These guides are helpful as they break down the instructions in the Canadian Guide and the Bluebook.

Canadian guides:

    1. Queen’s University Library – Guide to Canadian Legal Citation
    2. Carlton University Library – Citing Legal Sources (see p. 2 “Citing Jurisprudence”)

American guides:

    1. Cornell University – Introduction to Basic Legal Citation (browse menu on the left)
    2. Georgetown – Citing Cases

If you’d like some additional assistance from a librarian, feel free to contact the Law Library (or come visit us, of course!)

Social media citations: Twitter, YouTube, Facebook and more

With citation style guides only updated every few years, many students have trouble finding citation examples for recent technological innovations like Twitter or Facebook.  While you won’t always find the example that you need, some of the Associations responsible for popular style guides (such as the American Psychological Association or the Modern Language Association) are starting to post frequently-asked questions to their websites.

Here are a few places to get you started in those random but hard-to-find references.  As more are released, we’ll make sure to update this post!

  1. Twitter
    1. APA:
    2. MLA:
    3. Chicago:
  2. You Tube:
    1. APA:
    2. Chicago:
  3. Facebook
    1. APA:
    2. Chicago:

If you can’t find precise formatting for the type of citation you need, make sure to consult a library staff member for assistance.

Where can I get help with citing and formatting my paper in APA?

Last updated November 17, 2014. This post now includes sites for formatting your paper!

Citation and Referencing

  • The ultimate guide is the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (6th ed.).  Not only does it provide citation help, but it also outlines how you should organize and format your assignments.
  • The library has put together a cheat-sheet for the most common types of references (in all of the formats that your professors require, not just APA).  You can find it on our website at:
  • If you can’t find the precise example you need, make sure to check the APA Style blog, located at:  Here’s what the blog is all about, from their own words: “The APA Style Blog is the official companion to the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition. It’s run by a group of experts who work with APA Style every day.”   Some of the helpful posts include: Twitter, Facebook, and YouTube!
  • The OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue is the next best choice (for APA and many other styles)
  • Further resources about learning APA style, such as tutorials, are available on their website:

Formatting your paper

  • Again, the Publication Manual is the first place to look
  • The APA Style Blog also helps with formatting your papers, including those running headers
  • The OWL (Online Writing Lab) at Purdue is an awesome site for all things APA and even includes sample papers! Yay!

There are a lot of other citation resources available to you, so make sure to use a critical eye before trusting them.  When in doubt, only go with the APA-affiliated resources since they’re the experts.  The Beryl Ivey Library takes care when creating the Citation Guides for our students, but even we’re known to make mistakes!

If a journal is available in print and online, does it count as a web resource for my assignment?

This question came up when a professor assigned a limitation on the number of electronic or web-based resources her students could use in their bibliography. It’s referring to the fact that many journals are both printed and made available via the web.  Often the two versions look identical, as the online version is a scanned PDF of the print journal.

My blanket answer is: ask your prof.  They may have specific reasons for assigning you resource limitations – usually because they want you to learn something new.  One of Brescia’s Religious Studies professors, for example, wants students to explore print journals specifically for an assignment, so finding the same journal online would be beyond the point.

In general, though, professors want you to use journal articles for your assignments, because they’re credible and academic.  Usually profs will place a limitation on the number of websites they want you to use, because these resources are less reliable.

Glance over your assignment instructions again and if you still aren’t sure, a quick email to your professor will give you an answer.

How do you cite a government document?

I’m not going to lie, I think this is the hardest type of citation (at least for me).   As a result, I rely on a few resources to get me through – I’ve included the links at the bottom of this post.  If you’re looking for Stats Can help, they have a great resource on their website.

Government publications follow the same basic pattern as anything else, so try to find the following:

  1. Issuing agency (and any sub groups listed)
  2. Title of document
  3. Personal author (if applicable)
  4. Agency report number
  5. Medium (for anything other than print)
  6. Series (if applicable)
  7. Place of publication
  8. Publisher
  9. Date of publication
  10. Notes (sometimes needed for web resources – i.e. access date)

If you are citing legislation (i.e. a Bill that has been passed) you will need the Parliament Number and Session Number.  This information will come up if you find the Bill online through a government website.

Here are a few citation examples (APA style):

General government docume – online:

  • Canada. Library of Parliament. Parliamentary Information and Research Service. (2000). Aboriginal title: The Supreme Court of Canada decision in Delgamuukw v. British Columbia. (BP-459E). Ottawa: Public Works and Government Services Canada. Retrieved from


Here are the resources I use when citing government information:

When all else fails, send the library staff an email or come visit us at the desk!

Canada. Parliament. House of Commons. Debates, 36th Parliament, 1st Session, vol. 135, issue 121A, June 18, 1998. (Online). Available: (via WWW) [July 30, 2004].

Can I use popular periodicals (like magazines) in my essay?

This one-hundred-percent depends on your professor.  If you haven’t asked them yet, or if you haven’t read your assignment instructions, do that first before reading any further.

If you would prefer to take my advice, my answer to this question would be: no.  If you have any doubt whether it’s appropriate, it’s better to play it safe.

What is a “popular periodical” some of you may ask?  These would be things like popular magazines (Macleans, Time, People), trade magazines (Foodservice and Hospitality) or newspapers.  Academic periodicals include journal articles.

Consider your assignment, too: if you’re writing a thesis-based research essay, citing from US weekly probably isn’t the best idea.  But for some assignments – i.e. especially for MOS students – it’s advisable to look at trade magazines.

So, make sure to ask your prof!