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Citations, references and sources


We sometimes need to include references and citations to our own content or other organisation's publications and web pages. We also need to provide users with clear information about the data sources we use for the analysis in our charts and tables.

Using a consistent style and format ensures that users can easily find the information they need.

Cite this release

Writers and academics use citations to tell users that certain material in their work came from another source.

We need to include a “Cite this release” section in our bulletins and statistical and methodology articles. This will help writers and academics to find the information and cite our releases accurately and consistently. Do not include a citation in a digital content article, as these are aimed at inquiring citizens rather than academics and expert users.

The “Cite this release” section will be the final section of the release and be included in the table of contents. It needs to be formatted as a pull-out box including:

X. Cite this [content type]

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released XX Month 20XX, ONS website, content type, Title: edition with link embedded

17. Cite this statistical bulletin

Office for National Statistics (ONS), released 4 December 2020, ONS website, statistical bulletin, Coronavirus (COVID-19) Infection Survey, UK: 4 December 2020 (opens in a new tab) 


Reference sections do not work well online as they involve a lot of scrolling for users, who can easily lose their place. They should be avoided where possible. Using hyperlinks within your text is best practice for web writing and helps users get to any information they need without having to scroll.

Only include a references section if the publications you need to reference are offline and cannot be linked to.

If there are only a couple of offline references that you need to link to, include these as footnotes to the relevant section rather than as a separate section. This keeps the reference with the content it relates to and prevents users having to scroll. Footnotes should not be used for additional information or online references that can be hyperlinked in the main content.

If a reference section is needed, use the following guidance.

When writing a reference:

  • do not use italics
  • use single quote marks around titles
  • write out abbreviations in full: page not p, volume not Vol.
  • use plain language, for example, use “and others” not “et al”
  • use “to” instead of a hyphen for page ranges: pages 221 to 224, not pp 221-224
  • always write out "pp" as "pages"
  • do not use full stops after initials or at the end of the reference

Bean C (2015), ‘Independent review of UK economic statistics: Interim report’, December 2015

Colangelo A, Inklaar R (2012), ‘Banking sector output measurement in the euro area – a modified approach’, Review of Income and Wealth, Volume 58, Issue 1, pages 142 to 165

If the reference is available online, make the title a link.

If you are providing a source for an image (a map, for example), you may need to give the full URL. Use the following format and make it a hyperlink:


If you are referring to something in the same document, use upper case.

this is mentioned in Chapter 2
see Table 3
Figure 4 shows this

Pages should always be lower case and written out in full. Do not use "pp".

page 37
pages 346 to 358

Sources for charts and tables

A source for each chart and table must be provided in the following format:

[Publication or source of data] from the [organisation name]

We use words rather than punctuation or symbols to tell users which sources have provided data that are used in the visual. This is more accessible for all users.

Annual Survey of Hours and Earnings from the Office for National Statistics
Pay As You Earn Real Time Information from HM Revenue and Customs
Local Land Charges Research from the Land Registry

More than one source

If the chart is compiled using more than one source, then list them all by dividing them with commas. However, if the list becomes very long then just provide the three most important sources.

Labour Force Survey from the Office for National Statistics, Value Added Tax (VAT) returns from HM Revenue and Customs, and the School Census from the Department for Education

Multiple sources from one organisation

If you have multiple sources from the same organisation, you can include the organisation name only once.

Value Added Tax (VAT) returns and Pay As You Earn Real Time Information from HM Revenue and Customs, and the Labour Force Survey from the Office for National Statistics