• 4-minute read
  • 6th May 2018

5 Latin Terms in Referencing

Referencing sources in an academic paper can be tricky. It might even seem like you need to know Latin to understand what everything means! But while there are several Latin terms used in referencing, most are easy to understand once you know how they’re used. Here, then, we’re going to look at five common Latin terms used when citing sources.

1. Ibid. (In the Same Place)

‘Ibid.’ is short for ibidem, which means ‘in the same place’. It is used to prevent repetition when citing the same text twice in a row. For example:

1. Bryan Cobbler, Dancing with Bruce (Long Branch: Columbia Books, 1978), p. 31-33.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid., p. 45.

Here, for example, we have three citations of the same text. The full source information is given in the first one. In the second, we use ‘ibid.’ to cite the same source and pages as the first citation. And in the third, we used ‘ibid.’ to cite the same source again, but we give a new page number.

2. Loc. Cit. and Op. Cit. (More Repeat Citations)

Like ‘ibid.’, these Latin terms are also used for repeat citations in footnotes. ‘Loc cit.’ is short for loco citato, which means ‘in the place cited’. ‘Op. cit.’ stands for opere citato, which means ‘in the work cited’.

As these definitions suggest, ‘loc. cit.’ therefore refers to the same place in the same source as a previous citation, while ‘op. cit.’ is used to cite a different part of the same text. For instance:

1. Tommy Whitty, Life is a Riot (Barking: Charisma Inc., 1983), p. 25.
2. Loc. cit.
3. Bryan Cobbler, Dancing with Bruce (Long Branch: Columbia Books, 1978), p. 133.
4. Whitty, op. cit., p. 31.

As shown above, with non-consecutive citations, give the author’s surname first when using ‘loc. cit.’ or ‘op. cit.’ in a footnote. This will ensure clarity.

3. Et Al. (And Others)

Et Al. is short for et alia, which means ‘and others’. It is used when a text has too many authors to cite in one place (or for repeat citations of sources with more than two authors):

It was what he was built to do (Rowland et al., 1980).

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Here, for example, we name the first listed author and use ‘et al.’ to show that the co-authors have been left out of the citation. All authors should then be named in the reference list entry.

The exact rules for when to use ‘et al.’ depend on the system you’re using. APA, for instance, recommends using it for sources with three or more authors, but Chicago author–date referencing only uses ‘et al.’ for sources with more than four authors. This makes it vital to check your style guide!

4. Cf. (Compare With)

‘Cf.’ is short for conferatum, which is Latin for ‘compare’. It is therefore not used when citing a source, but instead when pointing the reader to a text to compare with the point being made:

Barrett’s approach differed from that of his ex-colleagues (cf. Waters & Gilmour, 1973).

Here, for instance, we use ‘cf.’ so that the reader can compare the approach of Barrett with that of Waters and Gilmour. Make sure only to use this term if you’re introducing a comparison!

5. Passim (Here, There and Everywhere)

Finally, we have ‘passim’. This was originally a Latin word meaning ‘here and there’ or ‘everywhere’. In referencing, though, it means that information can be found throughout the cited text:

The invasion turned Rome upside down (Harrington, 2000, passim).

In this case, for example, ‘passim’ means that the reader will find relevant information in various parts of the Harrington text. Generally, however, it is better to cite specific page numbers if possible.

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