ibid or Ibid?


In my efforts to use footnotes for the first time in my essay, I've come across a few problems (which you might know if you've seen Part 1 of the ibid journey.

I recently read online that it makes a difference whether you use ibid or Ibid (capitalization) in your footnotes and that there are even rules around this, at this site (I don't go to the school running this site).

They say:

‘Ibid’ should always be capitalized when it appears at the start of a footnote. If there is a pinpoint reference, that is, a reference to a specific place in the cited text, and the next footnote is to the same work and to the same place in the cited text, use ‘ibid’.

But, isn't ibid (or Ibid) always at the start of a footnote, so shouldn't it be always capitalised?

The Question

When should I use "ibid" or "Ibid" in my text? What difference does the capatilisation make?

  • 1
    So what does your school suggest? As your source is not from your school...
    – Solar Mike
    Aug 23, 2020 at 6:59
  • Looks like it is answered in the answer here : academia.stackexchange.com/a/154201/72855
    – Solar Mike
    Aug 23, 2020 at 7:01
  • 3
    Sorry, @SolarMike but I don't see where that answer mentions capitalisation... I think I would've noticed as I asked that question...
    – global05
    Aug 23, 2020 at 7:38
  • 3
    I did see that @SolarMike, but that doesn't answer the question as to when it is capitalised?
    – global05
    Aug 23, 2020 at 7:41
  • 4
    @SolarMike: I don't see the other author in a need to clarify. It's a seperate question and it's a good thing Gill made a new question to ask about the capitalisation issue.
    – user111388
    Aug 23, 2020 at 15:38

2 Answers 2


The short answer to this question is that it depends on the style guide. Style guides will be provided from the press or journal to which you are submitting your paper. If this paper is for a class, the style guide will depend on either what your university prefers, the conventions for your academic discipline, or what your professor has requested you use for the specific class that you are taking.

But, isn't ibid (or Ibid) always at the start of a footnote, so shouldn't it be always capitalised?

If your style guide does not explicitly give an answer to the question of whether or not ibid should be capitalized, the general rule of thumb is to think about footnotes as complete sentences, where there is a period at the end of a thought and a capital letter at the beginning of a sentence. You are correct that ibid is typically used at the beginning of a sentence, but this is not always the case.

  • As user Anyon points out, ibid can be used in the middle of a sentence "For X, see ibid."
  • Ibid can also be used after a semicolon that separates cited sources. For example, you could cite "Source A." in footnote 1, and in footnote 2 you could cite "Source B; ibid." where the ibid refers to Source A. This is unusual, but possible if it corresponds respectively to the information you are citing in your text.

Ibid is not a proper noun, so it's not capitalized as a matter of course. (Your own question contains several examples where lowercase 'ibid' is used correctly.) Whether it should be capitalized at the start of a footnote depends on the style guide used. For example, OSCOLA uses lowercase 'ibid', whereas the Chicago and Harvard styles use the capitalized form. When used for in-text citations it is typically lowercase, however.

Finally, when used with footnotes, 'ibid' doesn't necessarily occur at the start. In books I've seen 'ibid' occurring after parenthetical remarks, such as "For X, see ibid p. 50". Sometimes a single footnote is also used for multiple references, as in this example from the Physical Review style guide, where 'ibid' refers to the journal name:

J. M. Smith, Phys. Rev. B 26, 1 (1982); R. Brown, ibid. 24, 3 (1981); C. Green, ibid. 24, 22 (1981).

  • 2
    Would the downvoter care to offer any feedback?
    – Anyon
    Aug 23, 2020 at 16:06

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