Citing Page Numbers For Quotations In The Text

There is some debate in the literature about the necessity for citing in the text the page numbers of a quotation, table or figure from another article when giving a reference to it. Generally speaking, this is done more frequently in papers in the arts than it is in the sciences, and studies have shown that many science journals are lax in this respect (e.g. Donovan, 2006; Henige, 2006). Clearly the level of detail required for an in-text reference is a matter of debate, but the actual page numbers can be very helpful for readers if they want to check up on what was actually said or shown.

Sometimes it is not possible for writers to include the page numbers of a specific quotation because they are working from a prepublication electronic text and it is simpler to refer the reader to the final printed publication than to the unique resource location (URL) for the preliminary or alternative version. (This explains why there is no page number for the quotation from Robillard cited above!) Nevertheless, the moral of the tale, however tedious, is that it is best to include information rather than leave it out. Someone, somewhere, will want to check it.

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