Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. This has become a huge issue with our professors. I am the thesis processor for the school and have stated that “Ibid.” should not be the first footnote on a page. The cited work could be two or more pages back. Does Chicago have a rule on this? The academics state that they have never heard of this, but to me it makes perfect sense for the reader to not have to go back to see what the source was. Please help!

A. CMOS doesn’t address this issue, since it doesn’t arise in preparing manuscripts for typesetting. (That’s because there’s no way to know in advance of typesetting whether text that begins a page in a manuscript will begin a page in the typeset version. It’s not likely.) However, the standard reference for preparing theses, Kate L. Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (which is based on Chicago style), does say to “avoid using ibid. to refer to footnotes that do not appear on the same page” (16.4.2). Note that the use of “avoid” suggests that there may be times when it would be more awkward to avoid it than to do it.