What Does Ibid. Mean? | Definition & Uses

Citation updated on  March 14, 2024 3 min read

Ibid.” is a term used in academic writing to cite a source that has already been cited in the text. It’s used to direct the reader to the previous footnote or endnote, where the full citation can be found.

“Ibid.” is the abbreviated form of “ibidem,” a Latin term meaning “in the same place.”

Examples: Ibid. in Chicago-style footnote
1. J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit (London: HarperCollins, 2009), 15.
2. Ibid.

How to use ibid.

“Ibid.” is used after a particular source has already been used in your text and you’ve provided a complete citation in your footnotes or endnotes.

There are a few important points to keep in mind when using “ibid.”:

  • Use “ibid.” to refer to the previous footnote or endnote only.
  • Include the period at the end of “ibid.” as it is an abbreviation.
  • Do not use “ibid.” if the previous footnote or endnote has multiple citations because it will be unclear which source it refers to.
  • Check the acceptability of using “ibid.” for a given style guide as some style guides do not use the abbreviation (e.g., MLA, APA).

Ibid. in Chicago-style citations

The Chicago Manual of Style previously allowed the use of “ibid.” However, as of the 17th edition of the guide, use of “ibid.” is discouraged. The current advice instead favors the use of short notes.

Chicago rules allow the use of either footnotes or endnotes, and if you decide to use “ibid.” in your writing, the term will simply replace the citation when citing the same page of the previously cited source.

If you are citing the same source but a different page number, “ibid.” is followed by a comma and the page number being cited.

Examples: Ibid. in Chicago-style footnote
1. Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Chicago: VolumeOne Publishing, 1998), 96.
2. Ibid.
3. Ibid., 102.

“Ibid.” should only be used to refer to the source that was used in the previous footnote or endnote; it should not be used if other sources have been cited in between.

Examples: Ibid. when using multiple sources
1. Lewis Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland (Chicago: VolumeOne Publishing, 1998), 96.
2. Ibid.
3. Frank L. Baum, The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (Chicago: G.M. Hill Co., 1900), 99.
4. Ibid.
5. Carroll, Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, 110.
6. Ibid., 112.

Short notes instead of ibid.

If you decide to use short notes instead of “ibid.,” your footnotes or endnotes will contain abbreviated versions of the complete citations.

The Chicago Manual of Style indicates a preference for the use of short notes instead of “ibid.” Short notes can be used for all citations after a full source citation is first used, rather than only if the same source is being cited consecutively.

Short notes include the key information from the full citation, including the author’s last name, the title (shortened if more than four words), and the page number.

Examples: Short notes in Chicago style
1. Thomas Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow (New York: Viking Press, 1973), 33.
2. Pynchon, Gravity’s Rainbow, 38.

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How do I use ibid. in my writing?

“Ibid.” is included only in footnotes or endnotes and should not be used as an in-text citation. Additionally, not all style guides (e.g., APA, MLA) permit the use of “ibid.”

Once you have included the full citation for a source, “ibid.” can be used to refer back to that source in the next citation. It cannot be used if there are other intervening citations.

Can I use ibid. in Chicago style?

Chicago style still permits the use of “ibid.,” but the use of short notes is preferred. In either case, the choice to use “ibid.” or short notes should be consistent.

Can I use ibid. in APA Style?

APA Style, like MLA style, does not permit the use of “ibid.” Both MLA and APA Style use in-text parenthetical citations, and footnotes are used only to add further information, not for citations.


Alexandra Rongione

Alexandra has a master’s degree in literature and cultural studies. She has taught English as a foreign language for a range of levels and ages and has also worked as a literacy tutor.

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