I just got the page proofs of an article I wrote that is to appear. In it I cited a book, like this:

Author, Title in Italics, Cambridge University Press, 1891.

In the page proof it looks like this:

Author, Title in Italics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, MA, 1891.

Obviously that's wrong and I will so notify them.

But I wonder: Does the renown of this particular publisher justify omitting to identify the city after the publisher's name when the city's name is actually a part of the publisher's name and everybody knows which "Cambridge" it is? (This came from a "production company" that contracts with the journal, so maybe "everybody" doesn't include "production companies"). If the city must be named separately I'd be tempted to write

Author, Title in Italics, Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, 1891.

which still relies on "everybody" to know this.

"MA" is an abbreviation promulgated by the United States Postal Service. I had the impression that in England, postal addresses typically put the name of the county after the name of the city, separated by a comma, but that that probably wouldn't be done with Cambridge. If I did that, then "Cambridge" would appear three times in one line. An alternative would be what I would do if I were sending a letter the old-fashioned way from America to someone in Cambridge and put "England" or "United Kingdom" after the comma (although for a letter I'd probably put the postal code after the city's name on the same line and "England" would be on the next line). (Somehow I feel more comfortable with "England" than "United Kingdom" since it's not only an entity created by politicians but also a geographic name that will persist even if the UK becomes defunct. Or as someone once said "There'll always be an England." But maybe that's just personal taste.) I suppose "England" would be harmless and probably no one would notice, but I would feel silly thinking someone would have to be told that's where Cambridge is.

What do people normally do when citing stuff from this particular renowned publisher?

  • 1
    Many books published by CUP say "New York" and not "Cambridge" on their copyright notice; I own at least two. – fkraiem Jun 4 '16 at 1:21
  • 2
    @fkraiem : Presumably that's when they're printed in the U.S.A. for distribution in the U.S.A. – Michael Hardy Jun 4 '16 at 1:29
  • England is just as much a political entity as the UK - just from longer ago ☺️ – Flyto Jun 7 '16 at 5:30
  • @SimonW : But it's not only a political entity. If England split into 20 independent states with no political connection among them, they would also be within England just as Mali and Burundi are in Africa. – Michael Hardy Jun 7 '16 at 17:25

There's really no harm in adding clarifying information. Obviously, we need a city name if we get "University of Georgia Press" because there are two very different University of Georgias in the world. One located in Athens (Georgia, USA — not Greece!) and the other located in Tbilisi.

Likewise, if we see a publisher we're not familiar with, and the citation is only "Athens", it's nice to know at a quick glance whether we're talking about the American Georgian city, or the Greek one. The topic of the paper make dictate which one is the "expected" one — if we're talking Atlanta politics, we can assume Georgia, unless otherwise specified, and if we're talking Plato, we can assume Greece.

Ultimately, though, it depends on the house style. If the house style includes the city, they'll do it for all publications, no matter how obvious one would think. In your specific example, it's undoubtedly an overzealous copy-editor who is probably accustomed to having "Harvard University Press, Cambridge" and fixing it to "Cambridge, MA" to clarify.


I would say this comes down to which referencing style you are using, not logic. If it calls for a city then you include the city, regardless of how obvious this is. Similarly, you include the publisher in some styles, even when the publisher is the same as the 'author' of a booklet or similar, and you include both the authors of a chapter and the editors of the book, even when they are the same (sometimes long) list.

When I put preprints of my papers online, I use a referencing style I am happy with. Once it's in a journal, I sometimes wince, and then forget about it.


I always make it a point not to include the city name of the book publishers in bibliographic references in my articles. Including the city name in today's globalized world is a pointless and archaic tradition that should be abolished, along with fax machines and similar anachronisms.

Thus, I would write "Cambridge" if and only if the journal copy-editor insists on adding this redundant and pointless information. In that case I would ask them to remove "MA" since that's factually incorrect, and aside from that I couldn't care less if they want to also add "United Kingdom", "England", "Cambridgeshire", "in the general vicinity of Hogwarts", GPS coordinates, instructions for delivering mail via homing pigeons, etc.


Well, either way, concerning citation style, it's the journal that is right, unless they are wrong. If they prefer to include the city and the state, it's their choice, not yours; if they include ISBN and ISSN for everything, it's their choice, not yours; if they remove them, again, the same thing. Of course, unless the modification is plain wrong, like removing substantial data (think removing number in a journal volume when the page numbering becomes ambiguous) or unless it means extra charges on you (e.g. if this additional data adds another page you'd have to pay for).

You can of course ask them whether it's necessary, but as others mention in their answers, it is an important field. You can also of course withdraw the article, that's your choice :-)

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.