But I Tried to Find You, Honest, I Did!

In a comment on this post:

I am writing an extensive commentary on the book of Matthew. On the topic of plagiarism, many of the comments I would like to use are listed in several sources verbatim with no citation on any of them. How does one go about citing in this situation?

If you’re quoting scriptures, the only citation you need to make is which version you’re using. That is usually done on the copyright page and sometimes mentioned in the introduction or foreword.

If you’re quoting someone else’s commentary, do your very best to find the original source. Sometimes you can Google the quote and it’ll pop up. Unfortunately, some quotes are attributed to a variety of people and it’s difficult to find the original.

If you can’t find a source, you cite it as “Source Unknown” within the text. Then on the copyright page, make a note that explains you’ve done your best to track and cite sources correctly, but if a reader knows the source of a quote listed as unknown, to please contact you. Then double-check their source information to make sure it’s correct and add the new source in the next printing.

It also helps to keep a log of all the different ways/times you’ve tried to find the source and the results. That way, if someone sues you later, you can prove you did due diligence.

Author: LDS Publisher

I am an anonymous blogger who works in the LDS publishing industry. I blog about topics that help authors seeking publication and about published fiction by LDS authors.

3 thoughts on “But I Tried to Find You, Honest, I Did!”

  1. This makes me think of a question I have been looking for the answer to for a LONG time, and have not gotten any real answer:

    I am writing a memoir of my mission. Do I need to contact each of the people mentioned in the book? What are the legal requirements?

    If there are no real legal requirements, what is the author etiquette?

    I usually just used first names, and on some negative mentions, I didn’t mention names at all.

    What are the laws, common courtesies, and expectations for writing names in non-fiction, particularly memoirs?

    – Chas

  2. I would like to use a few graphics in the book. Is there a specific form or format that you need the approval from the source to be in?

    For instance, the cover. I can find the artist and ask permission to use his/her work, but would a simple email stating that he/she has allowed me to use it suffice?

  3. What if the artist has died many years ago and dozens of art dealers sell the same picture? Do I still need to get permission from someone to use the Art?

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