Citation, please!

If he’d burnt her omelet we’d need an egg-citation.

Standardization is a feature of civilization. The great empires standardized measurement, money, laws, highways, armies…everybody knew how long a mile is or how much a candybar costs. Remember how Charlemagne wanted to standardize music? Printed books standardize information. When you’re in school, reading a textbook, info in your book shows up on the same page in the textbook the kid next to you is reading. That isn’t true of handwritten books. Uniformity allows books to have numbered pages so we can find that information later.

That means if you’re a scholar, a scientist, or just some shmo writing a history blog, you can cite a piece of information. If I write, “In ad 878 the king of England was a not-so-good baker—he let an old peasant lady’s cakes burn,” I can cite that story in a history book so you know I’m not making it up. I’d give you the title of a book, its author, and the exact page so you can find the story. Anyone with a copy of that book will find that info. Printing made it possible to build on a body of knowledge, like history or science.

Cite: to quote by way of example, authority, or proof
A good old-fashioned citation looks like this: The Vikings, Frank R. Donovan, American Heritage Publishing, page 43
In this blog format, it’s convenient to cite by linking. Remember, though, that information on the web can be changed or deleted easily.

Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Reading & Writing.

Don’t forget: I wrote another Western Civ User’s Guide! Back to the beginning of The Western Civ User’s Guide to Time & Space.

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