Bibliographical information needed for OED citations

For the Oxford English Dictionary, bibliographical accuracy is of the greatest importance. We are requesting that the following standard be followed for all citations, books and periodicals alike. Although the format might look like a lot of work, it helps us maintain the highest possible standards of accuracy. If you have any questions, or if you would like to submit a quotation, please e-mail Malcolm Farmer for general SF and SF Fandom questions, or Jeff Prucher for SF Criticism.

Types of Sources and Electronic Resources

Please note that the OED is only able to include quotes from dateable printed sources, typically books and magazines, but also physical copies of movie scripts, dated programs from cons, fanzines, unpublished papers, etc. However, Web pages, E-books, Usenet posts, movies themselves, and similar sources can not be quoted directly. Web pages may have useful historical information that will allow us to track down print examples, or a prominent use in a movie may lead us to the script, a novelization, or the like, but we ask in general that you do not send in examples from this kind of source.

Facsimile versions of physical texts can, however, be cited directly, just as we could accept quotations from microfilmed or photocopied sources without checking a physical original. Such versions include scans of fanzines posted on fan web sites, page images from newspapers as found in such commercial databases as ProQuest or Newspaperarchive, or scanned page images from Amazon's Search Inside the Book feature. When citing from such a source, it is important that you check bibliographical details as thoroughly as for a print source, if not more so. Some databases use internal page-numbering schemes that do not correspond to the actual page numbers printed on the page; others may use some canonical bibliographical description (e.g. for the first edition), rather than the actual bibliography of the scanned edition. It is important when using such sources that you check these elements carefully: look at the actual copyright page for publisher and publication date, look at the page numbers in the facsimile rather than the version reported by the database, etc. Also, please give details of what source you used: a direct URL if possible, or a description of the search strategy employed. This will help us check your source if necessary. Remember, these sources are acceptable, we just need to know about it.

General Requirements

Several examples are given at the end of this page.

1. Include the word itself and some of the surrounding text to give us a context for how the word is being used. Please use at least one complete sentence, and more if necessary. When in doubt, include more rather than less; we can remove extraneous material. And please don't leave anything out from the place where you start quoting to the place where you finish.

1a. Type everything the way it appears: duplicate words ("He bit the the neutronium tablet"), misspellings, irregular punctuation. Do not "correct" anything in the original text. Make a note to let us know it's the author's mistake, not yours; [sic] works well for that. (In the unlikely case of citing something that itself has "[sic]" in it, please indicate this.)

1b. If a word is italicized, in bold type, or underlined, please use <i>(text goes here)</i> for italics, <b>(text goes here)</b> for bold, and <u>(text goes here)</u> for underlining. We promise: this is the only HTML we'll ask you to do.

1c. If a section of text is in CAPS, please type it in CAPS. If a letter is a drop cap (those oversized letters that begin a line and spread out over two or more), you can safely key it as a regular capital letter.

1d. If there is anything else irregular or noteworthy about the formatting, just write a description.

2. The location of the word. This includes column numbers: "page 6, column 2," for instance, or "p. 6/2" is OK. If the source doesn't have columns, "p. 6" is fine.

3. The author's name as shown on the cover or title page. If you know this name is a pseudonym, please indicate this.

4. Your name and e-mail address, so we can get in touch if there are any questions, and credit you on the Science Fiction Citations page.


Books have their own bibliographical requirements. These are in addition to the General Requirements given above.

1. The full title as shown on the title page.

2. The publisher, and date, of the original. (This is often given at the beginning of the book. If you don't have all this information, that's okay; the word and the citation can still be valuable. Just tell us whatever you can about the publishing history, and the reference researchers can take it from there.)

3. The publisher, and date, of the copy you read, if this differs from the original. If you read the first edition, please indicate this.

3a. If the copy you read is revised, please make a note: **Revised Edition**. The difference between a revision and a reprint isn't always clear. The rule of thumb is that a change to the text is a revision, and a change to the appearance is not. If in doubt, just supply both dates and one of the researchers can probably figure it out.

3b. Please indicate where your copy was printed: England, the USA, Canada, Australia, etc.

4. The ISBN number (these started appearing in 1968).

5. The location of the word: part number, chapter number, page number, and column number if the pages have more than one column. If the chapters have names but not numbers, please indicate this so we can track a quotation down in a different edition.

5a. If the sentence, or the quotation, begins on one page and ends on the next, we need the page on which the word actually appears, not the page where you start quoting.


Periodicals have their own bibliographical requirements. Again, these are in addition to the General Requirements given at the beginning of this page.

1. The full title of the periodical as it appears on the copy you read. Many magazines and pulps have changed their names in various ways throughout the course of their histories, and we need to get the name as it appeared in the copy in question, not the usual or canonical name used for reference purposes. For example, the magazine often known simply as Astounding has been called Astounding Stories, Astounding Science Fiction, and Astounding Science-Fiction (see that hyphen?), among others. When you report citations, please include the full title of the issue you used..

2. The date of the issue you read.

3. The publisher of the magazine. This is important; most science fiction magazines have gone through several changes of ownership.

3a. Please indicate whether the magazine is American, British, Canadian, etc.

4. The title of the story. The OED usually does not include the titles of magazine articles, and they probably won't appear in the OED, but it is helpful for research.

5. The location of the word: page and column number.

5a. If the quotation begins on one page (or column) and ends on a different one, we need the page (or column) on which the word actually appears (or begins, if the word itself is split across a page or column boundary), not the page where you start quoting.

5b. If the magazine doesn't have columns (most of them do), just mention "no columns."

Here are a couple of examples of citations that have been contributed by readers like you. The formats used here are very helpful, and, as you can see, there isn't a lot of necessary information; it only looks like a lot when written up.


First, here's a book. This one is a good example of a fun citation; it was one of the first instances of "off-world" being used as an adjective. Also note the way the HTML markings are used.

Andre Norton (real name Alice Norton), "Postmarked the Stars." Copyright 1969. Copy read: Magnet Books (UK), 1980.

p. 10
He was Dane Thorson, acting cargo master of the <i>Queen</i> because Van Ryke, his superior, was off-world and would join them only at the end of this voyage.

Now, here's a magazine. This is an interesting early use of a nickname for "mutant."

Robert A. Heinlein, "Universe." Astounding Science Fiction, May 1941. Street and Smith Publications (USA).

p. 16, column 2
There is even some question as to the original meaning of the word "mutie." Certainly they number among their ancestors the mutineers who escaped death at the time of the rebellion. But they also have in their blood the blood of many of the mutants who were born during the dark age. You understand, of course, that during that period our present wise rule of inspecting each infant for the mark of sin and returning to the Converter any who are found to be mutations was not in force.

p. 17, column 2
Since the muties are the seed of sin, why do we make no effort to wipe them out?

Here is an example of a more complicated citation. In this example, the reader found an early use of "alien" in an anthology which credited the magazine Wonder Stories but not the original publisher.

"Philip Barshovsky" (real name M. M. Kaplan), "One Prehistoric Night." Wonder Stories, November 1934. Publisher not known.
Copy read: The History of the Science Fiction Magazine, Part One 1926-1935, edited by Michael Ashley. Published by New English Library (UK) 1977.

alien (adj)
p. 176
Work went on also on the outside of the alien metal monster.

The Oxford English Dictionary and the Science Fiction Citation group thank you for your help. Again, if there are any questions, or to submit a quotation, please e-mail Malcolm Farmer for general SF and SF Fandom questions, or Jeff Prucher for SF Criticism.