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Chicago Style Citations and Format

Writing your first academic paper in Chicago format can be a real nail biter. Not only is the official manual massive, but it can be challenging to know which Chicago style citations to use. Breeze through your essay by breaking down the Chicago and Turabian style format into digestible chunks with a straightforward and comprehensive guide.


What Is the Chicago Style?

You might be wondering what Chicago’s writing style is since most student’s heads are floating with acronyms like MLA or APA. The University of Chicago Press publishes the Chicago Manual of Style, and it’s in its 17th edition. Chicago style is an extensive writing style that is prepared for all different types of papers.

Why Do You Use Chicago Style Citations

Since Chicago style is diverse, you need to understand when you would use Chicago format for your research paper. First, look at your topic. Chicago style is great for writing about subjects like history, arts, literature, and social sciences. It is also a great style to choose if you’re in doubt of which style to use since it is so versatile.

Chicago Manual of Style Citations: Author-Date vs. Notes-Biblio

You can’t break down the basics of the Chicago style without discussing that it offers you two different ways to cite sources in your paper. You can choose to use the author-date or the notes-biblio style. While this might seem confusing, it isn’t. Much like which writing style you should use, choosing your Chicago citation formatting comes down to your topic.

  • Author-date citation works well for topics in sciences, like natural, physical, and social sciences.
  • Note-bibliography style citation works for essays on human society, culture, humanities, historical literature, and arts.

Additionally, it should be noted that students at the high school and college-level typically use the author-date style.

Author-date versus Notes-bibliography infographic

What Is Turabian Style?

When you hear about the Chicago format and writing style as a student, you’ll typically hear of Turabian. Turabian is a form of the Chicago Manual of Style. However,  Turabian is broken down into an easy-to-use format for both high school and college students by providing researching and writing tips. So, if you’re a college student writing your first research paper in Chicago style, Turabian is the way to go.

Choosing a Thesis Chicago Style

Since you have a style in mind, you need to work to create your thesis statement. Your thesis statement is the argument or points you are trying to prove in your paper. It needs to be strong and relevant. It might also change throughout the writing process.

Finding Sources for a Chicago Format Paper

With a thesis at the ready, it’s time to start researching and finding your sources. To make sure your research is robust and credible, you want to look for excellent primary and secondary sources. There are several free primary source websites you can check out. You could also check out public domain sources for useful information.

good source scholarly information

Creating a Chicago Style Outline

While an outline isn’t necessary, creating an outline in Chicago style is a great way to organize your thoughts and sources in one place. When creating your framework, you want to keep with the Chicago style formatting so that it flows seamlessly into your paper.

Don’t get fooled that an outline is pointless. This step can help you to write your paper since all your information is already laid out and organized.

Chicago Outline Example:


I. Introduction

II. First idea

A. Explanation

1. Methodology
2. Literature Review

III. Second idea

A. Overview of Research

1.Study 1

2. Study 2

III. Conclusion


Formatting the Chicago Style Paper

The time has come to start formatting your Chicago style paper. And if you chose to create an outline, you are already a step ahead. Like every writing style, Chicago has rules. From the spacing to the font you use, Chicago guides you through every step of your essay or research paper creation.

Formatting Basics

For Chicago style, you double-space your text, have page numbers near the top, and use 1-inch margins. Your font should be readable and no less than 10 pt. Times New Roman in 12 pt. is typically preferred. Beyond formatting, your paper has different parts.

  • Title Page – A title page may or may not be necessary but will include your title, name, class information, and date.
  • Main Body – This is where the real meat and potatoes of your research will go.
  • References – You’ll cite all the sources you used in either a bibliography or reference list.
chicago style title page sample
Chicago style title page
Example of the main body of a Chicago style research paper with handwritten notes
The main body of Chicago style research paper

Chicago Format Headings

Chicago doesn’t have a specific guideline when it comes to formatting headings. Therefore, you can use whatever format you feel most comfortable with. However, it’s essential to remain consistent throughout the paper for how you format headings and subheadings. Additionally, use title case when formatting the capitalization of your headings.

Chicago In-Text Citations

Chicago style in-text citations are essential. Why? Because they give credit to those quotes, you use within the body of your text. Trying to pass someone else’s thoughts or words off as your own is plagiarism and will earn you nothing but a big fat F. To avoid plagiarism, you need to make sure that you cite your sources using either author-date and notes-bibliography citation styles.

Author-Date Chicago Style Formatting

When it comes to the author-date citations, this is very similar to citations you might make in APA format. Every time that you use a short quote, long quote, blockquote, or paraphrase a section of the text, you’ll indicate the author and date of the work you used. In the text, this will look like: (Orono-Cordova, 96).

Chicago block quote example

Footnotes and Endnotes Formatting

The other form of in-text citation you’ll be formatting are endnotes and footnotes. While you typically won’t include both endnotes and footnotes in your paper, they are created the same way. In the text, you add a superscript number after the quoted or paraphrased information that corresponds with the endnote or footnote.

You might be wondering what an endnote and footnote are. Well, an endnote is at the “end” of the paper before the bibliography or the end of each chapter for longer essays. A footnote is at the “foot” of the page where you included the quote. Endnotes and footnotes are nice because they don’t clog up your paper with names and dates. Endnotes are cited differently depending on the source, but look like:

In-Text Example:

Students feel that culture and diversity are important1 for their college education.

Endnote (Footnote) Example:

1. Peter Parker, “The Increasing of Diversity in College,” Education Today 5, no. 2 (Spring 2020): 12, https://doi.org/xx.xxxxx. Qualitative data show that 10 out of 15 students survey had an expressed need for cultural diversity.

Shortened Endnote (Footnote) Example:

1. Peter Parker, “The Increasing of Diversity in College,” 28-29

1. Peter Parker, 49

Chicago Style Citations

It’s time to cite your references. If you used author-date in-text citations, you’re going to create a reference page for the sources you cited in your work. Those that used notes generate a bibliography. A bibliography is unique in that it includes all the sources that you used to create your paper, even if you didn’t cite them directly. In general, your Chicago style citation page contains:

  • Author
  • Publication year
  • Publication date
  • Publisher
  • City of publication
  • Date of access
  • Page numbers
  • URL

How this information is formatted depends on whether you choose author-date or notes-bibliography. So it is crucial to look at both.

Chicago notes-bibliography example

Citation generator

example of author-date chicago references

Creating Reference Page

Creating your references page is all about formatting. In addition to including the title “References” at the top, using hanging indents, and following spacing rules, there are specific sources you can eliminate right off the bat. These include classical works, the Bible, and some arts sources.

Example of a Chicago style reference page with Chicago style citations

Citing Print Sources in Author-Date Style

Now, it is time to create your print citations. When it comes to author-date reference citations, you are going to include the creator, identification of the work, date of publication, location of work, and publisher. This is the necessary information to cover for a journal entry, reference work, or book.

Print Example in References:

Thomp, David. 2018.  Dictionary of Film. Massachusetts: Knopf.

Media and Digital Sources in Author-Date

Visual and performing arts, audio, video, and online sources require extra information in Chicago’s author-date style. Instead of publication information, you may include the URL/DOI, site owner, and/or medium.

Website Example in References:

Revolution Industry Group. 2016. “Steps to Publishing.” March 7.  BISG. https://www.rig.org/publications/bisq-quick-start-guide-accessible-publishing.

TV Example in References:

This Is Us. 2019. Season 4, Episode 3, “Unhinged.” Directed by Dan Fogelman. Aired October 8, 2019 on ABC.

Periodical Sources in Author-Date

Periodical citations in author-date style can get a little tricky. That is because there are so many different periodicals out there, like monthly, weekly and yearly journals; magazine articles; county and national newspapers; and multiple other articles that are available with a wealth of exciting research. For a periodical citation, include the author, article title, journal/magazine title, volume number, issue, and date.

Journal Example in References:

Bailey, Anthony. 2014. “Autism Treatment Research.” Autism Research 7 (1): 1–3. https://doi.org/10.1002/aur.1358.

Formatting Your Bibliography in Chicago Style

If you opted for notes in-text citations, it’s time to create your Chicago style bibliography template. This means you label it as “Bibliography” and list your citations in alphabetical order.

Example bibliography with Chicago style citations

Citing Print Sources in Your Bibliography

When it comes to print sources, you’ll be making citations for books and reference volumes. These sources will have a publisher, possibly a volume, and page numbers. You are going to want to include all of that information, plus the author and title, in your citation.

Print Example in Bibliography:  

Barber, Katherine, ed. Canadian Oxford Dictionary. 2nd ed. Oxford: Oxford University Press,  2004.  https://doi.org/10.1093/acref/9780195418163.001.0001.

Citing Digital and Media Sources in a Chicago Style Bibliography

Another standard citation you’ll come across, especially in your arts papers, will be for digital and media sources. Online source bibliography citations have a URL or DOI listed. Multimedia bibliography citations include the location of the source and name of the producer, while visual arts bibliography citations consist of the location of the work.

Website Example in Bibliography:  

Kavena, Ken. “Interview with Darrel Quin.” Promontory, February 19, 2020,  www.kued.org/productions/promontory/interviews/quin.html.

TV Example in Bibliography:  

This Is Us. Season 4, Episode 3, “Unhinged.” Directed by Dan Fogelman. Aired October 8, 2019 on ABC.

Periodicals for Notes-Bibliography

Just like with author-date, periodical citations can get a bit confusing. For journals, magazines, etc., you’ll include the author, title, journal title, volume, issue, and date.

Periodical Example:  

Darrell, Kevin. “Past and Present Chinese Lexicon.” Dictionaries: Journal of the Dictionary Society of North America 4 (2010): 210-222.

Sectioning Your Bibliography

To make your bibliography easier for your reader to follow, you can choose to section your bibliography by specific categories. This is especially true if you find that one author is always coming up or that you are writing about a particular set of characters or categories. This just makes everything a lot easier for your reader to follow.

Annotated Bibliography in Chicago Style

Another way to make your bibliography stand out is to make it a Chicago style annotated bibliography. This is where you annotate your bibliography to provide either a summative or evaluative overview of each work listed. This can give your readers a little more insight into the different works you used to write your paper.

example annotated bibliography chicago format

Chicago Citation Maker

Whether you are creating a reference or bibliography page for your anthology essay, looking at examples can work to make things a lot clearer. And, if you took the easy way out and used a citation generator, then you can double-check that your generator was on top of its game. Not only does this make your life a ton easier, but this citation creator is checked for accuracy.

Mastering Chicago Style Citations

Mastering any writing style is rough. Chicago can be even tougher because there are at least a couple of different ways you can go, including author-date and notes-biblio. Thankfully, Turabian is available for students to help guide them through the process. Now that you know everything about Chicago, you might want to check out MLA format or APA citations.

FAQ Chicago Style Citations and Format

How do you cite in Chicago style?

The way you cite in-text and on the reference page of your Chicago style paper depends on whether you are using author-date or notes-biblio style. These are the two different citation styles offered by Chicago style. However, the author-date is the more popular of the two.

What is Chicago style citation used for?

Chicago citation is used for all different types of research papers. The author-date style citation works better for science research papers. However, the notes-biblio style works great for humanities and art papers.

What is Chicago Manual style?

The Chicago manual of style is a writing guide created by the Chicago Press. It is currently in its 17th edition and offers diverse citation formats for users.

Where do page numbers go in Chicago Style Citation?

The page number in a Chicago style citation paper goes in the upper right-hand corner. It is formatted as a running header that keeps the page count throughout your entire work.

Who uses Chicago Manual of Style?

The Chicago Manual of Style is used by students and professional academic writers. It is one of the three popular writing styles that also includes MLA and APA.

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