Ibid. – Meaning and Citation Examples

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Ibid.-Definition

Ibid. is commonly used in scholarly citations when referring consecutively to the same source. It generally appears in endnotes and footnotes, but there are further nuances depending on your chosen writing style. In this article, we’ll break down how and when to use ibid. and why it is useful.

Ibid. – In a Nutshell

  • Ibid. is a way of quickly and efficiently citing a source that has been used in the previous footnote/endnote.
  • It only refers to the previous citation. If you are referring back to a citation that isn’t consecutive, you must re-introduce the source within the footnote/endnote.
  • Include a page number at the end of ibid. if it has changed; omit it if it’s the same exact page number as the previous citation.
  • Ibid. isn’t applicable to reference styles that utilize in-text citations.
  • Not all style guides recommend ibid., even if it is still acceptable. Modern Chicago handbooks favor short notes instead.
  • Consistency is key when using any citation style.

Definition: Ibid.

Like many other citation devices, ibid. has its root in Latin. It’s an abbreviation of the word “ibīdem”, which means “in the same place”.1

It is used in academic notes, citations, and referencing when referring to the same source as the previously listed item. Instead of writing out the same reference in full for each consecutive citation, ibid. indicates that the source remains the same.

It can only be used when the source is exactly the same and should be avoided, for instance, when referring to different articles in the same edited volume.

How ibid. is used in academic writings

Ibid. is largely used in academic writing where references are listed as endnotes or footnotes. Common styles like Chicago style, Turabian, and MHRA all make some use of ibid. Here’s how it’s implemented:

  • Use it when referencing the same exact source consecutively.
  • If the page number being referenced is different from the prior citation, add a comma followed by the new page number. It will look something like this: “Ibid., 4”.
  • Where ibid. is used as a citation, it must always be listed with a period. This is because it is an abbreviation.
  • Ibid. is always capitalized when it appears at the beginning of a footnote.
  • Older references italicized ibid., but this has fallen out of fashion.
Ibid. how to use it

Ibid. in Chicago style

When you’re referencing the same source and page number in the Chicago style, use full notes for the first reference and “Ibid.” for the next. If the source remains the same but the page number changes, simply add the relevant page at the end of “Ibid.”, as such:

1 Ibid.

2 Ibid., 42.

3 Ibid., 68-70.

You can use ibid. multiple times in a row, so long as it follows its previous use. Think of it like an unbroken chain. Once you begin referencing a new source altogether, you break the chain and cannot use ibid. to refer back to that first citation. Instead, you must reintroduce the source as a short note, as such:

1 Charles Darwin, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (London: John Murray, 1859), 25.

2 Ibid., 53.

3 Francis Darwin, The Life and Letters of Charles Darwin (London: John Murray, 1888), 23.

4 Darwin, Origin of Species, 82.

5 Ibid., 93.

Using short notes instead of ibid.

Ibid. is one of several options for shortening citations when using Chicago style footnotes or endnotes. Another alternative is to use short notes. This is in comparison to a full note, which contains the full name, book title, publishing information, and page number. A short note, by contrast, contains only the following:

  • Last name
  • Shortened title if the original is longer than four words
  • Page number(s)

Whichever you use will depend on your department or professor’s preference. Many contemporary writers and Chicago style guides, including the recent 17th edition, have begun to discourage the use of ibid. in favor of short notes.2

The reason for this recent preference for short notes is to do with clarity and versatility. With short notes, you can consistently refer back throughout an article, creating notes that are easier to read within one glance.

Ibid., by contrast, can become dense and difficult to digest, particularly when an article or paper is consistently referring back to the source material.

Example of a full and short note for the same book in the Chicago style:

Full Note 1. Thomas Anderson Goudge, The Ascent of Life: A Philosophical Study of the Theory of Evolution (London: George Allen & Unwin, 1961), 25.
Short Note 2. Goudge, Ascent of Life, 25.

Is ibid. allowed in APA or MLA?

Neither APA style nor MLA makes use of ibid. This is because they both utilize in-text citations in parentheses, rather than footnotes. These references refer to a full list of sources arranged alphabetically at the end of the article.

Notes can still be used, but they are restricted to comments and explanations that aren’t accommodated in the paper’s main text.

As in-text references are already shortened enough within the actual text itself, there is no need to condense them further.

Example of an APA in-text citation:

He writes that “climate plays an important part in determining the average numbers of a species” (Darwin, 1859, p. 67).

Example of an MLA in-text citation:

Pointing out a general false view of rarity, he underscores that each species “is constantly suffering enormous destruction at some period of its life” (Darwin 67).

FAQs

Ibid. is short for “ibīdem”, or “in the same place” in Latin.

There is no specific limit to how many times you can use it in your writing. Just ensure you are using it correctly, right after a citation is repeated.

No, but it’s similar. In legal citation, id. is used to abbreviate “idem”, meaning “the same” and has its own stylistic rules.

No. The MLA style does not utilize ibid. as it advocates in-text references instead.3

Sources

1 Dictionaries. “Definition of ibid..” Oxford Learner’s Dictionaries. Accessed November 09, 2022. https://www.oxfordlearnersdictionaries.com/definition/english/ibid?q=Ibid.

2 Douglas College Library. “Chicago (17th ed.) Citation Style Guide: Shortened Citations / Ibid..” November 02, 2022. https://guides.douglascollege.ca/chicago/shortened-citations.

3 Doose, Susan. “Posts related to in-text citations.” MLA Style Center. Accessed November 09, 2022. https://style.mla.org/tag/in-text-citations/.