How does ibid work in footnotes?


So I'm writing an essay, using footnotes for the first time. I was told that if I use the same source twice on the same page, then I should write "ibid", but this was not very clear. I was left with multiple questions (apologies if this ends up a duplicate, it seems like the type of question which might've already been asked but I can't find it):


  • Where does the ibid go? In the superscript in text or on the footnote? In what combination?

  • How is it clear what the ibid is referring to? Say I have 4 footnotes, the fourth being an ibid, how is it clear whether the ibid refers to the 1st, 2nd, or 3rd footnote?

  • I've seen something about putting the page number of a journal - what about for websites, and videos? How does that work?


1 Answer 1


“Ibid” is short for the Latin “ibidem” meaning “in the same place.” It is used when referencing the same work as the immediately preceding reference and appears in the same place the reference usually would. For instance (assuming the below are a list of footnotes on the same page):

  1. Isaac Newton, Principia Mathematica, p. 67. <— this should usually be a full reference, unless the full reference was already made in a previous footnote (which need not be in the same page)
  2. ibid. <— same work, same page
  3. ibid., p. 98 <— still refers to Principia
  4. Gottfried Leibniz, Explication de l'Arithmétique Binaire, p. 4
  5. ibid., p. 8 <— Now refers to the Leibniz text
  6. Newton, op. cit., p. 83 <— another short hand; “op. cit.” is an abbreviation of the Latin phrase “opus citatum” meaning “the work cited” and like “ibid.” refers to the most recently referenced work, with the difference being it refers to the most recently mentioned work of the named author.

How this works with non-dead-tree media is highly dependent on the citation style you are using and probably not that well codified since “ibid” is fairly rare these days. But a decent approximation would be to replace the page number in the above examples with whatever you would use to locate the specific reference normally. For web pages, there might very well be nothing following the “ibid”. For video, you would generally include the time frame in the video referenced, e.g.:

  1. Fight Club, 1:15:07-1:18:54
  2. ibid. <— same film, same scene
  3. ibid., 0:33:56-0:38:21 <— same film, different scene
  • And what if it is on a different page? Do I still use the same ibid or reference it again?
    – global05
    Aug 23, 2020 at 5:09
  • The first reference to a work on a page should be a normal reference. Footnote referencing styles usually have a long-form reference for the first time a work is cited and a short-form reference for subsequent references to the same work. The short form usually looks something like the examples I’ve given above.
    – ig0774
    Aug 23, 2020 at 13:19
  • I wonder if it would be helpful to list some of the common academic styles that do (or do not) use ibid., or at least mention that there are some, e.g. APA, that do not use it at all.
    – shoover
    Aug 23, 2020 at 18:45
  • @shoover while that might be valuable, I think that would belong in the context of a different question as this one assumes you’re using footnotes and a style that encourages ibid.. Suffice to say, ibid. is increasingly discouraged except in certain disciplines.
    – ig0774
    Aug 23, 2020 at 18:56

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