Learn and Generate Bibliographies, Citations, and Works Cited

Citing Reference Works in Notes-Biblio Style

As you gather your sources for your school research paper, you may consult reference works such as dictionaries, textbooks or encyclopedias. Reference works can be important to your Chicago 17 notes-biblio style paper; however, they are secondary rather than primary sources and supplement your primary research, not replace it. Depending on the subject of your paper, you may use more secondary sources than usual and will want to include them in your bibliography.

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What Is a Secondary Source?

As the name implies, a secondary source is one that refers to a primary source. For example, a book review is a secondary source because it is written about a book (printed or online). Books and journal articles are primary sources. Other secondary sources include dictionaries, textbooks and commentaries, for example.

As a secondary source typically analyzes a primary source, you should use them sparingly in your research paper. It is always best to use primary sources. This is not to say that you shouldn’t use them at all; sometimes, it helps to have a secondary source to back up your research argument.

Including Secondary Sources in Notes-Bibliography

students Citing Reference Works in Notes-Bibliography Style

Chicago/Turabian Notes-Bibliography style guidelines recommend that you create notes for secondary sources, but you don’t have to include them in your completed bibliography. Follow the same guidelines as citing for social media posts. If you feel that the secondary source is critical to your research argument, then include them in your bibliography.

Secondary Sources in a Sectioned Bibliography

The article on sectioning your bibliography provides some guidance on how to section the notes bibliography. For example, if you have consulted several reference works for your paper, you may want to create a section simply for reference works. In that case, include all reference works, such as dictionaries or textbooks.

Creating Entries for Dictionaries

If you simply refer to a commonly known dictionary such as Webster’s, just include that reference in your notes. However, if your notes-biblio style paper relies heavily on biographical, foreign language, medical or legal dictionaries, you may want to consider a section in your bibliography for those reference works. While creating your bibliography entry, make sure to include the version you have consulted for your paper.

Include the same elements for secondary sources in your full entry as you do for primary sources: Title, Creator, Version/Edition, Publisher, Date, and Locator.


Oxford Dictionary of Science. 6th ed. Edited by Elizabeth A. Martin. New York: Oxford University Press, 2010.

If the consulted dictionary includes a website link, add that at the end of the entry. If there’s a DOI, remember to add https://doi.org to the link.


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

Other Examples

For reference works that are updated on a regular basis, include the frequency of publication.

Who’s Who. London: Bloomsbury, 1849–. Published annually.

Guide to Reference. 12th ed. Edited by Bob Kieft. Chicago: American Library Association, 2008. Ceased updating as of 2016. http://www.guidetoreference.org.

New York Times Index. New York Times Company. Annual cumulations. Available from ProQuest Historical Newspapers.

For works with several volumes, such as encyclopedia sets, include the number of volumes.


Encyclopedia Americana. 30 vols. Danbury, CT: Scholastic Library, 2006.

Notes-Biblio Endnotes for Reference

As always, put your reader first and ask yourself what information s/he needs in order to find the information cited in your Chicago style format paper. Secondary sources do not need a bibliography entry, but you should always cite them in your notes either as a footnote or endnote. As with social media posts, you may cite within the text if it’s a slight mention. By keeping your reader in mind, you can determine if you should include a bibliography entry as well.

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