Citation guidelines for thesis projects at the Academy of Fine Arts

Instructions for compiling a list of references and information on reference techniques for Academy of Fine Arts students.

Why is it important to follow referencing practices?

Our ideas are always based on something that already exists. We construct our individual and unique form of existence, as well as our thoughts, by absorbing information that is layered and intertwined in the world and connecting it with our personal experiences and insights. Indeed, one of the goals of the thesis project is to allow the student to contextualise their artistic practice and thinking in relation to the field of art. Consequently, the student’s text should make it clear which authors have supported their thinking and artistic practice, been their sources of inspiration, and paved the way for their work.  

References tell the reader where the idea or information presented in the text is originally from. A reference can be a book, an online publication, or a fine arts exhibition, for instance. The citation system is intended to identify the author’s original ideas, insights, and applications and to keep them distinct from the work done by others. Furthermore, when the citation is provided to the reader, they can locate the cited source, and if necessary, check whether an idea proposed by the author is valid or not. Citations also lead the reader to the source to find additional information on the topic.  

By making your sources explicit, your text becomes more transparent, and credit is given where credit is due. Imagine that you are looking at a forest view. You have found a spring in the forest from which you have had your fill. The spring has provided you with what you need, and now you want to show others how to find it. For this purpose, you need to build a sign, in other words a citation, which tells the readers where they can find the spring and how they can get there. This allows others to make use of what you have discovered.  

Quote or paraphrase the source text

There are different ways to use text and materials produced by other authors: you can either quote a piece of text directly or paraphrase the relevant content. In each case, you must indicate the source by adding a citation to the text.  

When a text that has been produced by another author is quoted directly (i.e., cited), the quotation must always be a verbatim reproduction of the original text. If part of the original text is omitted, the omitted part must be indicated, with three dots, for example: (…).   

A short quotation may be embedded in the text, in which case it is separated from the body text with quotation marks. If the quote exceeds three rows in length, it must be indented; it is not necessary to use quotation marks in the indented text. A reference must always be inserted at the end of the cited text (more on this below).  

It is also possible to refer to another author’s text by paraphrasing it and summarising only the relevant parts of the source text. Quotation marks are not used in a quote like this, but a reference must be added after the paraphrased section.  

A cited or paraphrased piece of text can be introduced with a short reporting clause, e.g., According to Konttinen…; Siukonen thinks that…; …, concludes Rantanen.  

Referencing practices

There are several citation styles and style guides. Which style guide is followed depends on the field of study and the specific publication, for example. These guidelines are based on the Chicago Manual of Style, which is widely used in the humanities and the arts. These guidelines are recommended for use in the thesis projects produced at the Academy of Fine Arts, but you can also follow other style guides if you have used them before. The important thing is to choose one citation style and to follow its norms consistently.  

The difference between the different citation styles is in the details: The name of the author and the publication year may be ordered differently, and the norms concerning punctuation and italics are different. However, all citation styles are based on the same principles. The citation system can be divided in two parts: citations in the text and a reference list. The reference list catalogues all sources that have been used in the text, while a citation refers to one or several sources.  

Citations and the reference list must match each other

Each citation must be included in the reference list, and each entry in the reference list must correspond to a citation in the text.  

You can also provide a list of sources and literature that have been important to you during the thesis project, but which are not directly referenced in the text. You can list sources like these under a separate heading, e.g. “Background Literature”. However, the most unambiguous way to cite sources is to follow the citation + reference list practice introduced above.  

The reference list includes comprehensive details about all references used in the text, while the citation only includes minimal information. Some publications do not make use of the reference list; in cases like these, the full reference is included in the citation. In thesis projects, however, the citation + reference list convention is followed.  

A citation can either be an in-text citation, a footnote, or an endnote. These terms indicate where the citation is placed in the text: in-text citations are placed in the body text, footnotes on the bottom margin, and endnotes at the end of the text.  

Note that these footnotes and endnotes are not the same as footnotes/endnotes that are used to expand upon a particular section of text. Explanatory notes like these should be used sparingly. As a rule of thumb, if something is considered important, it should be discussed in the body text; if it is not important, there is no need to discuss it at all. However, explanatory notes can be used creatively and experimentally to pursue a specific effect or as part of the content of the work. 

Examples and instructions for compiling lists of references

The list of references may also be called works cited, bibliography, sources or literature. The reference list is placed at the end of the document. It includes the comprehensive details of each reference cited. 

Depending on the thesis project, it may be sensible to provide separate lists for, e.g., printed sources and other sources; written and audio-visual sources, etc., but this is typically not necessary in a master’s thesis project.  

If some information cannot be found, it must obviously be excluded. Sometimes it is necessary to express overtly that the source does not have page numbers, particularly if you quote directly from the source. In a case like this, you may write “no page numbers” after the reference entry. E-books, for example, may not always have page numbers (or the page numbers may vary). In a case like this, you can refer to a chapter/section of the book, for example.  

The entries in the reference list are arranged in alphabetical order. If you cite more than one work by the same author, their publications are listed in temporal order. If the author has published more than one work in the same year, the works are distinguished from each other by adding a letter of the alphabet to the publication date.  

Bishop, Claire. 2005. Installation Art. A Critical History. London: Tate Publishing. Bishop, Claire. 2012a. Artificial Hells. Participatory Art and the Politics of Spectatorship. London: Verso.  

Bishop, Claire. 2012b. Digital Divide, Artforum September, 434–41. 

One or several authors

When there is one author, the order is as follows:  

  • Last name, First name. Year. Title of publication. Place of publication: Publisher.   
  • For example: Kivi, Jussi. 2004. Kaunotaiteellinen eräretkeilyopas. Helsinki: Kustannus Oy Taide and Academy of Fine Arts.  

When there are several authors:  

  • Last name, First name; First name2 Last name2 & First name3 Last name3. Year. Title of publication. Place of publication: Publisher.  

If necessary, you should also provide the name of the translator, publication series, edition number, and the original publication year (in parentheses) if the original publication was published a long time ago.  

For example:  

  • Woolf, Virginia. 1990 (1929). Oma huone. Finnish translation by Kirsti Simonsuuri. Helsinki: Kirjayhtymä.  

Publication by an institution

An institution may also be listed as an author. Then the publication may be listed in the list of references as follows:   

  • Ministry of Education and Culture. 2021. Taide, kulttuuri ja moninainen Suomi. Kulttuuripolitiikka, maahanmuuttajat ja kulttuurisen moninaisuuden edistäminen -työryhmän loppuraportti. Publications of the Finnish Ministry of Education and Culture 2021:2. Helsinki.  

Publication with no author

If the publication has no author, list it in the list of references as follows:  

  • Title of publication. Year. Place of publication: Publisher.  
  • For example: Nykysuomen Sivistyssanakirja: Vierasperäiset Sanat. 1992. Helsinki: Finnish Literature Society.  

Edited volume

An edited volume includes individual articles written by several authors. List the publication in the list of references as follows:  

  • Last name, First name; First name2 Last name2 & First name3 Last name3 eds. Year. Title of publication. Place of publication: Publisher.  
  • For example: Kantonen, Lea & Martta Heikkilä eds. 2010. Ankaraa ja myötätuntoista kuuntelua: Keskustelevaa kirjoitusta paikkasidonnaisesta taiteesta. Helsinki: Academy of Fine Arts.  

Article or chapter in an edited volume

List an article that has been published in an edited volume in the list of references as follows:  

  • Last name, First name. Year. Title of article. In Title of Edited Volume. Eds. Last name, First name, First name Last name & First name Last name. Place of publication: Publisher, page numbers of the article.  
  • For example: Arlander, Annette 2010. Performanssi, performatiivisuus, ruumiillisuus ja tapahtuma. In Ankaraa ja myötätuntoista kuuntelua: Keskustelevaa kirjoitusta paikkasidonnaisesta taiteesta. Eds. Lea Kantonen & Martta Heikkilä. Helsinki: Academy of Fine Arts, 86–94. 

Journal article

List an article published in a journal as follows:  

  • Last name, First name. Year. Title of article. Name of the Journal Volume: issue, page numbers.    
  • For example: Kari, Irmeli. 2009. Naistoimijuuden sulkeumia ja avaumia alueella ja työssä. Naistutkimus– Kvinnoforskning 22:4, 43–44.  


List a thesis in the list of references as follows:  

  • Eriksson, Elissa. 2017. Master of Fine Arts thesis. Academy of Fine Arts of the University of the Arts Helsinki, Degree Programme in Time and Space Arts. Available online at  

Video, film and other audio-visual publications

The information relating to the source follows the same principle as all other publications: author’s/writer’s name, year of publication, title of publication, publisher/producer – to the extent this information is available.  

  • Akers, Matthew. 2012. Marina Abramovic. The Artist Is Present. USA: Music Box Films.  

Alternatively, the entry can be based on the artist’s name, if this is more important in your context:  

  • Marina Abramovic. The Artist Is Present. 2012. Directed by Matthew Akers. USA: Music Box Films.  

Online publications

Provide information on the source as follows:  

  • Name of the author or writer, and person/organisation responsible for the website, publication date, URL and date of citation.   

The URL will be added to the reference list, not to the citation. Please note that a URL cannot be used as a reference on its own. In other words, if you read a book, an article, or a thesis etc. online, remember to add the URL and the date when you accessed the source to the reference list. If necessary, the publication format should also be mentioned in the reference entry (e.g., blog, video, podcast).  



  • Doe, John 2017: Email subject line. Private email message 6/2/2017. Recipient of the message: Jane Doe.  

Personal communication

  • Anttonen, Einari, personal communication with the writer 7/2/2016.  

Course, lecture, seminar, etc.

Kumpulainen, Hannele. Egg Yolk Tempera, Academy of Fine Arts, 26/11–14/12/2012.  

Instructions for citations

These are the instructions for citing a publication included in the reference list.  

The citation consists of the author’s last name and year of publication. Page numbers that refer to the cited text may also be added to the citation. For example: 

  • Kantonen & Heikkilä 2010. Arlander 2010, 86–87.  
  • Rantanen 2012.  
  • Bishop 2012a, 11–40.  
  • Amos Rex 2021, OR: Bill Viola 2021. (if the entry in the reference list is arranged this way)  

The first word of the entry in the reference list is also the first word of the citation: The citation is then Bishop 2005, and the entry in the reference list is Bishop, Claire. 2005. Installation Art. A Critical History. London: Tate Publishing.  

You can place the citation in an appropriate place in the body text in parentheses (in-text) or use a footnote (or an endnote). 

How to create footnotes and endnotes in Microsoft Word

Click the point in the text where you want to add the footnote. Click References and then Insert Footnote. Make sure that you have chosen to use footnotes and that the number format is set to 1, 2, 3… (or customise the format according to your preferences). Click Insert. A superscript number will now appear in the text, and a section for the citation will open in the bottom margin: this is where you should insert the relevant information of the citation.  

Examples of an in-text citation and a footnote:  

  1. According to Claire Bishop (2012, 236–238), the most important qualities of participatory art are authenticity and a proximity to everyday reality introduced by people who are part of the work.  
  2. According to Claire Bishop, the most important qualities of participatory art are authenticity and a proximity to everyday reality introduced by people who are part of the work.1  
  3. The concepts of “outsourced” and “delegated performance” refer to a situation where an artist employs non-professionals to perform instead of the artist. Their job is to “play themselves”. (Bishop 2012, 220–239.)  
  4. The concepts of “outsourced” and “delegated performance” refer to a situation where an artist employs non-professionals to perform instead of the artist. Their job is to “play themselves”.2