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Just to be clear, I'm not talking about scholarly work of the sort that might be published by a university press. I'm talking about work by people like Goodwin, McCullough, or Larson. These kinds of books usually don't have in text citations. References will come at the end of the book, usually marked by a book page and phrase.

I realize once the writer has a contract the publisher will probably specify all this. However, I would like to format my work from the very beginning, e.g., sample chapters for proposal, so that I only need to make minimal formatting changes later.

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There are many different formats depending on the type of work being cited, and the standard being used. Common standards are the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA). MLA style is widely used when writing about history and literature. APA is widely used when writing about science and technical subjects (not just psychology).

Here's a reference for MLA style: http://www2.liu.edu/cwis/cwp/library/workshop/citmla.htm

Here's a reference for APA style: http://www.umuc.edu/library/libhow/apa_examples.cfm

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Thanks for responding, Jay; I appreciate it. Just to clarify, your answer is about referencing. I'm asking about in text citations. In APA, for example, citations are typically author,year, in parentheses, e.g., "(Jay, 2012)". I think nonfiction books often use Chicago style referencing, but I don't know whether the text the author submits to the publisher includes Chicago style citations, since I think they include superscripts and publishers usually don't want manuscripts with "fancy" formatting ... Does that make sense? – Al C Jan 25 '13 at 18:07
Very late follow up: APA style involves in-line citations like your example. MLA style calls for footnotes, I don't think there's a provision for such in-line citations in MLA. Yes, it's true that publishers generally want very simple formatting, I presume because getting the text from the form submitted by the author into their typesetting system is not always clean and direct, and any formatting may cause more trouble than it helps. When I used to write for magazines, they would typically have a style sheet that said how they wanted such things. ... – Jay Mar 27 '13 at 13:31
I'd seek direction from the specific publisher rather than generic suggestions, as their requirements vary. If you're sending out cold query letters and don't want to reformat for each publisher, any format that is reasonably readable should be adequate. If the publisher is interested, they can ask you to resubmit in a format they like better. I've done that a couple of times. – Jay Mar 27 '13 at 13:35

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