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Ultimate Guide to Chicago Style Format and Citation

Ultimate Guide to Chicago Style Format and Citation

Improper formatting techniques affect the overall grade of your research paper or essay.

Professors sometimes instruct students to follow a specific format. It can be either an MLA or Chicago style. There are other citation styles also that assist the students in citing and referencing their work correctly and properly.

However, students find it challenging to meet these formatting techniques thoroughly. This blog is a guide to the updated edition of the Chicago Manual of Style, the 17th edition, and it will help you format your papers of literature history, general history, and arts properly.

Read this blog to get a detailed overview of the Chicago-style format paper.

What Is Chicago Style Format?

It is a style guide for American English that was first published in 1906 and covers:

  • Manuscript preparation
  • Grammar
  • Formatting citations

The most recent edition was published in 2003 and was updated to show technological advancement. The Chicago style format is often used by the researchers to organize their work and citings. It is entirely different from other popular citation styles such as MLA and APA.

Usually, the MLA format is used by literature students and the APA is used by science writers. However, students in history and social sciences prefer to use the Chicago manual of style.

Most of the supervisors demand Chicago citation in Turabian. It is a widely used manual for writers and professional researchers. Kate Turabian is an instructor who developed a spin-off design for those who use it.

Turabian's format for referencing is the same as Chicago's. Nevertheless, the Turabian style handbook focuses more on the paper's layout and framework rather than a published piece.

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Types of Chicago Style Citations

Researchers have two different citation systems in Chicago format. The writers of research papers can choose between them on the basis of the discipline and source type. Let us discuss both in detail.

  1. 1. Notes and Bibliography Style

People working in humanities, history, literature, and arts mainly use this system. It is a flexible style that includes commentary on these cited sources. A superscript number is written at the end of the sentence, or the shortened citation, that indicates that the source is being used.

Moreover, summary details of the source are also present within the footnote at the bottom of the page. Lastly, full details are located in the bibliography presented at the end of your paper in alphabetical order. It explains how to arrange the citations both in the notes and bibliographies.

  1. 2. Author-Date System

This type of Chicago manual of style online is used in natural, social, and physical sciences. Such a method uses in-text citations and bibliographies to organize the Chicago referencing.

Similarly, it is further enclosed within parentheses. It includes the author (last name), publication date, page numbers, and full bibliographic information.

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2. How to Format Your Paper in Chicago Style?

Worried about writing your paper in Chicago style? Follow the below-mentioned essential guidelines.

  • Always use a standard font of 12 pt. Times New Roman
  • Add double spacing in the text
  • Use 1-inch margins on all sides
  • Indenting new paragraphs by ½ inch
  • Page numbers must be placed in the top right or bottom with centered justification
  • The text should be left-aligned

Furthermore, it includes the formatting of the following sections.

  • Title Page
  • Tables and Figures
  • Page Order
  • Main Body
  • Headings
  • Block Quotations
  • Numbers and Acronyms
  • Chicago In-Text Citations and Notes
  • Bibliography or Referencing List
  • Common Mistakes to Avoid

Let's discuss the detailed formatting of each section.

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Title Page

Mainly a Chicago style does not require a separate title page. It is only mentioned at the top of the first page. However, follow the guidelines given below if you are asked to include one.

  • All the text must be double spaced and center-aligned with the same format
  • The title must be positioned about ? of the way down the page
  • The headline must be capitalized and bolded
  • Subtitles appears on the next line, bolded and of the same size as the main title
  • Add your name, code, course name, code, and date about ? of the way down the page. Use separate lines.
  • The page number should not be mentioned on the title page

Tables and Figures

Place the tables and figures after being referenced. Present it after the paragraph in which they are described.

Include a caption or short explanation for figures. Cite the table source with a credit line below the table or figure. Also, include complete information in your bibliography or reference page

If the table includes the data that is not acquired by the author, include an unnumbered footnote. Introduce the note by a word source, succeed by a colon, full source information, and end with a period.

Page Order

Organize the document in the following order:

  • Title page
  • Main Body
  • Appendix (if required)
  • Notes
  • Bibliography

Main Body

Titles listed in the text, notes, or bibliography are capitalized. Similarly, the first words of the titles and subtitles should also be italicized or enclosed in quotation marks. Use lowercase to classify periods.


Make sure to present each type of heading clearly. For example, use a

  • Larger font for chapter headings
  • Bold for section headings
  • Italics for subheadings.
  • Maintain a parallel structure in headings and subheadings
  • Subheadings must begin on a new line but are differentiable by font-size
  • Avoid ending the subheadings with periods

Block Quotations

You can write quotations of two or more lines in your paper. It must be presented as block quotations. They do not use quotation marks.

Rather they are separated on both sides by a surrounding text and are intended to be 1⁄2 inch. Also, they are not double-spaced.

Numbers and Acronyms

Chicago manual of style 17th edition recommends using words, not numerals. For example, it is thirty-five and not 35. If numbers are required in any case, they must be lower than 100. Moreover, they can also be used in a measurement like 14 cm or using decimals like 2.7.

On the other hand, acronyms can be used alone when you are referring to something. However, both should not be stated at the start of a sentence.

Rather, rewrite the statement, so both appear elsewhere or write the full phrase or number.

In-Text Citations and Notes

As previously discussed, there are two citation styles in Chicago, i.e., author-date and notes and bibliography

Similar to the APA format, Chicago's author-date style also has the flexibility to place the text in parentheses. Nevertheless, in notes and bibliography style, citations are mainly present in a footnote or endnote.

Endnotes are mentioned before the bibliography, but the footnotes appear at the bottom of each page.

Also, the Chicago-style footnotes must be separated from the text. However, it should be with the same font size. Microsoft Word's function automatically creates footnotes.

For footnotes, put the numbers at the end of the sentence within the text. Make sure to use Arabic numbers (1,2,3). Put the notes at the top of the page with the endnotes.

Use Times New Roman 10 pt font and single-line space. Intend the first line of each note.

Bibliography or Referencing List

A bibliography or a reference list is included at the end of your paper. It should not be double-spaced but has a blank link between entries. A ½ inch indent should apply to the first line if an entry extends in the second line.

The heading must be centered at the top of the page in Times New Roman 12 pt font. Don't use bold or large size fonts for the heading.

Common Mistakes to Avoid

A writer should keep in mind the following points.

  • The format uses the first name last name while the bibliography uses last name, first name
  • Do not reuse numbers for citations
  • Use a first-line indent. Also, a bibliography uses a hanging indent
  • Bibliography follows an alphabetical order
  • Notes are numbered
  • Do not put the Word Cited section at the top of your bibliography

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Chicago Format Works Cited

The following are the core elements of Chicago Citation formatting.

  • Author
  • Title of book/article
  • Title of newspaper/journal
  • Publication year
  • Publication month and date
  • Publisher's name
  • City of publication
  • Date of access
  • Page numbers
  • URL

All the editions of The Chicago Manual of Style, either the 16th or 8th edition, require a bibliography at the end of the paper. Even though complete bibliographic information is mentioned in the footnotes or endnotes.

Turabian style referencing is almost the same as Chicago. Continue reading to understand more about writing a Turabian-style paper.

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Citing A Book in Chicago Style

A book citation consists of the author's name, the book's title, publisher city and name, the year of publication, and the page range.

In the footnotes and endnotes:

First name, Last name, Title of Book (Publication Place: Publisher, Year), page range.

In the bibliography:

Last name, First name. Title of the book. Publication Place: Publisher, Year.

For example,

Dan Brown, The DaVinci Code (New York: Scholastic, 2004), 17-19.

A book written by two or more authors, list them in the same order as they appear on the title page. Only the first author's name should be reversed, while the others are written in normal order. Also, separate author names by a comma.

Cite A Journal Article

A journal article consists of the author name(s), article title, journal name, volume number, date published, and page numbers.

For footnotes and endnotes:

First Name Last Name of Author, “Article Title,” Journal Name Volume Number, no. of the issue (Date published): Page-Range, DOI address.

For Bibliography:

Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Journal Name Volume Number, no. of the issue (Date Published): Page-Range. DOI address.

For example,

Smith, John. “Studies in Pop Rocks and Coke.” Weird Science 12, no. 3 (Spring 2009): 78-93. https://doi.org/10.1086/5422323

Citing A Website

A website consists of the author name(s), page title, website title, web address, and date published or accessed.

For footnotes and endnotes:

First Name Last Name of Author, “Title of Page,” Title of Website, Month Day, date published or accessed, web address.

For Bibliography:

Last Name, First Name of Author. “Page Title.” Website Title. Month Day, Date published or accessed. Web address.

For example,

John Smith, “Obama Inaugurated as President,” CNN, accessed February 1, 2009, http://www.cnn.com/POLITICS/01/21/obamainaugurated/index.html

Citing A Newspaper

A newspaper consists of the author name(s), article title, newspaper name, publication date, and web address or name of the database.

For footnotes and endnotes:

First Name Last Name of Author, “Article Title,” Newspaper Name, Publication Date, web address, or name of the database.

For Bibliography:

Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Newspaper Name, Publication Date. Web address or name of the database.

For example,

John Smith, “Steelers Win Super Bowl XLIII,” Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, February 2, 2009, https://post-gazette.com/local/city/feb22009steelerswin.

Citing A Magazine

Citing the magazine by using the same structure to cite a newspaper. It consists of the author's name, the book's title, publisher city, publisher name, the year of publication, and the web address.

For footnotes and endnotes:

First Name Last Name of Author, “Article Title,” Magazine Title, Month Date, Year of Publication, web address.

For Bibliography:

Last Name, First Name of Author. “Article title.” Magazine Title, Month Date, Year of publication. Web address.

For example,

Dan Chan, “The Art of Pandas,” Panda Magazine, November 10, 1985, www.pandamagazine.com

Citing A Film

A film consists of the title, medium, director name(s), distributor, distributor city, and year of release.

For footnotes and endnotes:

Film Title, directed by First Name Last Name (Distributor City, St: Distributor, Year of Release), Medium.

For Bibliography:

Last Name, First. Film Title. Medium. Directed by First Name Last Name. Distributor City: Distributor, Year of Release.

For example,

BibMe: The Movie, directed by Jane Doe (Los Angeles: Columbia, 2001), DVD.

Chicago Style Format Example

Here we have mentioned two Chicago-style format examples for better understanding.

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Chicago Style Format Outline (PDF)

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Chicago Style Format Paper (16th Edition) (PDF)

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Chicago Style Bibliography Format (PDF)

This blog has provided you with everything to get started with the Chicago-style format. However, taking help from professional essay writers is a good option if you are still confused.

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Frequently Asked Questions

Is Chicago style and APA the same?

No, they are different from each other, and once you go through the samples of each of these citation styles, you will know the core differences between them.

Is Chicago or APA better?

If we talk about ease, then APA is a better choice, but if you want to give additional details and information, the Chicago style will be better. Since it includes footnotes, it will allow you to provide more details.

Is Chicago style double-spaced?

Yes, like other papers, a Chicago-style paper is also double-spaced, unless the teacher has asked you to keep your paper single-spaced.

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