Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. How would one cite something from the Oxford English Dictionary in author-date style? The guidance in CMOS 14.233 states that in notes and bibliography, just a note is needed. I don’t see anything about common reference works in chapter 15 (on author-date).

A. When CMOS says that something is normally cited in the notes rather than in a bibliography, you can interpret that to mean that you may not need a reference list entry if you’re using author-date style.

Let’s start with this footnote example, adapted from CMOS 14.233:

1. Oxford English Dictionary, s.v. “app (n.),” accessed July 6, 2023,

In author-date style, you could work that information into the text. But unless it’s required by your instructor or publisher, you could leave out the URL and access date (which would otherwise be included in parentheses):

In the OED’s online entry for “app.,” the first sense is as an abbreviation for job application (or the like); the second sense refers to the software.

Well-known reference works like the OED don’t usually require detailed citations; the footnote example above is overkill for most types of work. But if you do need a formal author-date entry in a reference list, try this:

OED (Oxford English Dictionary). n.d. Accessed July 6, 2023.

Then in the text you can refer parenthetically to “(OED, n.d.)” whenever you need to point readers to the reference list entry:

In the Oxford English Dictionary’s entry for “app” (OED, n.d.) . . .

For the use of “n.d.” (no date) in author-date references, see CMOS 15.50.