Generally speaking, historians use footnotes rather than any sort of in text notation. Historians use the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) as their citation format. They do not use MLA or APA style unless publishing in journals that use those styles. Sometimes historians employ a a shorthand version of the CMS written by Kate Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, Seventh Edition: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers. While some students find this to be a very useful source and certainly a cheaper one, others say they have better luck using the CMS, which in the end has the final word.
Students are expected to learn how to properly cite material in HIST 210: History Methods. They are expected to refine their use of citations in upper division courses and to essentially have perfected it by history 490: Senior Seminar. Proper citation format requires students know how to both do footnotes and bibliographies. Student should be reminded that the first line of footnotes should be indented about a quarter inch with all remaining lines flush to the margin while the reverse is true in bibliographies. Microsoft does not automatically do the indentation in footnotes that students can do it by simply highlighting all the footnotes when they are done and using the arrows on the ruler to create the indentation.
Students can find copies of the CMS in the history department office and in the library. The newest edition is the 16th edition published in the summer of 2010. Students can also gain access to the CMS online at http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org where where they can get a one-time free 30 day trial or buy a one-year subscription.
Research papers almost invariably required notes and bibliography. Other forms of writing may require these though, in the end, it is the choice of the individual professor to use some other format such as parentheticals for short essays utilizing only sources provided for the class.