I found this paper online and would like to cite it. I've looked up the rules for citing conference papers, but this is not a conference paper. It's also not a book and not a website and not an essay. It looks like this image may have the correct format, but I can't tell exactly what information is what.

How do I cite any paper? (MLA is preferred, but multiple citation styles would be ideal.)

  • 7
    You type the title in google and find this, from where you take the proper journal citation.
    – user68958
    Dec 11, 2018 at 20:20
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    I threw the title in google scholar and clicked on the "cite" button -> "Harrison, John, Josef Urban, and Freek Wiedijk. "History of Interactive Theorem Proving." Computational Logic. Vol. 9. 2014." Dec 11, 2018 at 20:26
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    Several people have found a published source for this paper, but if the online paper were the only available version, I'd cite it as "[Authors' names], [Title of paper], (date if known), available at [URL] (accessed on [date])." People who use some official bibliographic style can, I hope, incorporate the same information in that style. Jun 9, 2019 at 21:45
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    Worth noting that if the paper really isn’t published in any other form, then the answer is field-dependent. In some fields (e.g. pure maths) it’s quite normal to cite preprints, public-but-not-formally-published work, personal communications, and so on. In other fields (e.g. many experimental fields, I’m told) it’s considered very bad practice to cite anything except peer-reviewed publications, and many journals don’t allow such citations at all in their articles.
    – PLL
    Jun 9, 2019 at 22:43
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    @Fábio Dias nice approach, but never rely on Google Scholar's cite button. The citation you mention is incomplete at best.
    – henning
    Jun 10, 2019 at 14:09

2 Answers 2


The first step is figuring out if it has been published in some form elsewhere. Recognize that people often put some draft version on their personal website to make the full text available, especially if they're not allowed to host the published version.

In this case inspecting the URL gives some hints*. Consider omitting the "joerg.pdf" part, and go to John Harrison's Complete publications list, which further links to this page. Both these pages can tell you that this document is a chapter in a handbook:

History of Interactive Theorem Proving

John Harrison, Josef Urban and Freek Wiedijk.

In Jörg Siekmann (ed), Handbook of the History of Logic, vol. 9: Computational Logic, Elsevier, pp. 135-214 (2014).

(The last link even provides a citation in bibtex form, but it uses the InProceedings form. I would probably use the InCollection style instead. Elsevier seem to agree.)

In MLA, book chapter references can be written

Last, First M. "Section Title." Book/Anthology. Ed. First M. Last. City: Publisher, Year Published. Page(s).

For this document, you'd have something like

Harrison, J., Urban, J., and Wiedijk, F. "History of Interactive Theorem Proving." Handbook of the History of Logic, vol. 9: Computational Logic, edited by Siekmann, J. Elsevier, 2014, 135--214.

*In cases when the URL doesn't reveal anything, consider searching for the title and authors in a search engine. This can often lead you to a more official version.


Use Google Scholar with the title in the search box to find:

Harrison, John, Josef Urban, and Freek Wiedijk. "History of Interactive Theorem Proving." Computational Logic. Vol. 9. 2014.

  • 2
    That's a good method, but an imperfect result. It shouldn't be Vol. 9 of Computational Logic, but Vol 9 of Handbook of the History of Logic, where the volume in question happens to be named Computational Logic.
    – Anyon
    Dec 12, 2018 at 0:43
  • @Anyon none of the google entries refer to a Handbook of the History of Logic... :( ? :( Dec 12, 2018 at 0:47
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    I think Google Scholar must have some error in their database. If I search for it in Google Scholar, and click through to the Google Books link, it's clear from the cover picture and the "About this book" section that they've only identified the volume title, and not the series title. If I search for just the title of the document on regular Google, I do find the link to ResearchGate corey979 linked in a comment, which indeed references the Handbook.
    – Anyon
    Dec 12, 2018 at 0:54
  • Google Scholar can't be relied upon for citations. This is an example why. The citation looks like an incomplete citation of a journal article while it should be a book chapter.
    – henning
    Jun 10, 2019 at 14:11

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