Citation guidelines for BHO

Why you should cite British History Online

We think it is good scholarship and your responsibility to be open and honest about the resources that you consulted in your research. Researchers from all over the world rely on BHO’s accurately transcribed texts, yet many don't acknowledge this in the bibliographies to their publications. We know that you might instinctively cite the original printed source rather than the digitised text you consulted on our site, but it’s simple: if you use BHO, you should cite BHO. Here's why:

  1. BHO creates new editions of texts. Although most of our texts are transcriptions of printed volumes and we haven’t changed the body of the text itself, we’ve still made some drastic changes to the text throughout the digitisation process. We’ve modified metadata; added XML (extensible markup language) tagging; modernised characters (for example, the long s character (ſ) has been converted to the modern short s); changed formatting; moved plates and figures to different spots; replaced page numbers with URLs; and renumbered footnotes. Although the main text remains the same, these changes all represent editorial decisions we have made in order to produce a digital version of the text that is easy to read on a web interface and adjusts to the strengths and weaknesses of the new medium. The process of transforming a printed volume into a digital text is a radical one and shouldn’t be hidden.
  2. Correct citations allow readers to find the texts you actually consulted. Most of the texts on BHO are from large multi-volume series, the print versions of which can be difficult to access. If you used BHO for your research, you probably did so because we made those texts available and searchable. Citing BHO allows your readers to retrace your steps and find the same accessible edition of the text you used in your research.
  3. Even texts transcribed with an accuracy rate of 99.999% occasionally have errors. Citing BHO and the date that a particular text was consulted means that any potential errors can be traced back to us.
  4. Citations show that BHO has value. Scanning, transcribing, correcting and uploading a text to our database is an investment of time, effort and money, as is maintaining the architecture behind our website in order to make those texts discoverable and accessible. When you cite BHO, you are giving credit where credit is due; you are not only acknowledging the time and effort of the team behind BHO, but you are also providing proof that our resource is being consulted and relied upon for historical research. BHO has a mandate to support the learning, teaching and research of users across the world. Your citations help us prove that we are doing just that.
  5. We've made it easy! Follow our instructions below for quick, easy and clear citations.

How to cite British History Online

We provide examples in several suggested styles below, but users are free to use whichever citation style they prefer.

Citing the entire website:

BHO's house style:

British History Online, Version 5.0 <> [accessed 19 April 2016].

MLA (7th edition):

British History Online. Version 5.0. Institute of Historical Research. Web. 19 April 2016. <>.


British History Online, Version 5.0. Accessed 19 April 2016.

Citing a volume/section/image plate/map sheet:

All volumes, sections, image plates and map sheets have a citation feature at the top of the page that generates an automatic citation in our house style, MLA or Chicago. For example, a generated citation from Francis Blomefield's An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 3, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part 1 in BHO's house style:

Francis Blomefield, An Essay Towards A Topographical History of the County of Norfolk: Volume 3, the History of the City and County of Norwich, Part I (London, 1806), British History Online <> [accessed 19 April 2016].

Citing this page:

In BHO's house style:

"Citation guidelines for BHO," British History Online, Version 5.0 <> [accessed 19 April 2016].

Understanding our URL structure:

Publications on BHO are broken up into sections, which might follow chapters or other divisions from the original volumes, but will typically not follow page numbers. Since page numbers are an arbitrary division of printed texts that are not necessary in digital versions of these texts, we have not reproduced them. Instead, we have created user-friendly URLs that are designed to enable a user to find exactly the section being referred to. For example:

A section with a page range:

A section with a page range

A section with an alternative range (like a dictionary range):

A section with an alternative range

An image plate:

An image plate

A map sheet:

A map sheet

Citing a paragraph:

It is true that referring to book sections may or may not be as detailed as referring to a single page so we have added a feature that allows users to cite a single paragraph. When hovering over any particular paragraph of text, a faint pilcrow (¶) will appear to the left of the text. Clicking on that pilcrow will add the paragraph ID to the address bar in the browser, as below. This new URL now points exactly to that paragraph. A reader would be able to follow that URL in a citation and be directed to the very paragraph referred to.

A paragraph

Further reading on digital citation:

Jonathan Blaney and Judith Siefring, "A Culture of non-citation: Assessing the digital impact of British History Online and the Early English Books Online Text Creation Partnership" in DHQ (2016)

Jonathan Blaney, "The Problem of Citation in the Digital Humanities" (2014)

Heather Froelich, "Suggested Ways of Citing Digitized Early Modern Editions" (2015)

Sam Kaislaniemi, "How should you cite a book viewed in EEBO?" (2014)