Alright, so I'm kind of curious if it breaks any sort of standard style to put in a copyright notice somewhere at the start or end of my paper. The specific context I inquire for is coursework, not general release. Yes, I get that it would be pretentious, but this question is more just a curiosity than genuine applied inquiry.

So, for example, let's say I write a paper about the role of computer science in military tactics as my final paper for some class. I put on the title page "copyright 2016 <my name here>." Would this be in direct violation of MLA, APA, or Chicago style?

Then, extending the example, let's say I feel so proud of the paper that I'm contemplating giving it a general release on my blog. In that case would I still include the copyright notice on the copy I turn in?

  • 2
    In the US, at least, this would be copyrighted from the moment it is created, whether or not you pour a copyright notice on it. Depending on what you have signed as a student or employee you may have signed that copyright to the school or your employer. Any normal you publish on will want at least some rights assigned to them so they can publish/reprint; read the fine print to see exactly what they are asking for before signing. Other options include asserting a standard license for use ("copylleft" of various forms) or public domain, but talk to school/employer before selecting these.
    – keshlam
    May 17, 2016 at 5:34
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    Actually, in any country that signed the Berne convention, works are copyrighted from the moment of creation. Adding a copyright notice is not just pretentious; it's redundant.
    – JeffE
    May 17, 2016 at 21:00
  • You put a copyright notice to inform the reader how you want to act out your copyright. If that's not applicable in the given situation, it will look strange to do so.
    – Karl
    Oct 17, 2016 at 17:05

1 Answer 1


Of the three listed I am only truly familiar with Chicago style, which if you are writing on military tactics is the style you are likely using, and that is the only style which has significant discussion of copyright notices.

There is nothing against copyright notices in the Chicago style. In fact, the University of Chicago—the publisher the Chicago Style—requires a copyright notice in their dissertations. Notably, however, dissertations are formally published, in contrast with course papers.

That said, as pointed out in the comments, it is not necessary, since it is under copyright without a notice. It is pretentious and even a little insulting, since the unnecessary copyright notice implies that you think that A) your ideas are so good and B) that your readers/advisors/colleagues are of such a low moral character that might steal them but for this little notice you put on it. It is also well outside the norm for anything not formally published, and will look weird.

The only exception to this would be if you are intending to distribute your work under a separate license, or if something you use in your paper is under a copyright or a license which requires a notification. For example, some of the Creative Commons licenses require notification if you use some of the licensed materials. It will still look a little strange, but people will understand, since it is legal stuff.

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