A Definitive Guide to Chicago Format


Academic writing requires researches and students to use a system to structure their work and reference. Chicago format, among others, is one of the most popular systems.

The Chicago style manual is currently in its 17th edition. It was created to help students and researches to cite their sources in various disciplines properly. Also, it provides guidelines for two styles of source citation, which are (1) Notes and Bibliography and (2) Author-Date.

The Author-date style is the preferred option of students and researchers in the Sciences and Social Sciences. In contrast, the Notes and Bibliography (NB) style is the preferred option of students and researchers in the humanities, such as literature and history.

Therefore, if you are asked to use the Chicago format for your paper, the style you would use is highly dependent on your field of study.

This is a definitive guide that displays the general guidelines on how to format a paper in Chicago format as well as Notes and Bibliography style and Author-Date style of referencing.

Formatting Guidelines for Chicago Format

The Chicago format specifies how a paper or essay should be formatted. The guidelines are as follows:

  • Font type: The Chicago format allows for any readable font to be used, Times New Roman, preferably.
  • Font size: The font size approved for the Chicago styled paper is 12 points.
  • Margin: Each page of a Chicago-styled paper is expected to have a one-inch margin on all sides
  • Indentation: Every paragraph in a Chicago-styled paper must be indented half an inch to the right
  • Spacing: The text in a Chicago-styled paper should be double spaced
  • Header: Each page must have a header that contains the page number and should be situated at the top right corner.

Chicago Format Structure 

The content of a Chicago-styled paper should contain the following

  • Cover/title page
  • Body of the paper
  • Appendix (if needed)
  • Notes (for the Note and Bibliography style)
  • Bibliography / References

Title page

The title page is not required for a Chicago-styled paper. Therefore, you could just write the title of the paper at the top of the first page of the paper. Having said that, you could be required to include a title page by your instructor or professor. This is why the Turabian’s manual laid down the guideline on how to format the title page for a Chicago-styled paper.

The guideline specifies that the title page should contain the following

  • The title of the paper
  • The subtitle (if necessary)
  • The author’s full name
  • Other information about the author like students’ number
  • The course name and number
  • Professor’s or instructor’s name
  • The date of submission.

The title page should be centred and about a third of the way down the page.

Citation Guidelines for Chicago Format

The Chicago format has different citation guidelines for both the Author-Date Style and the Notes and Bibliography style.

Author-Date Style

The Author-Date style requires an in-text citation that consists of the author’s name, the publication year and a page number (when relevant). Additionally, there should be a corresponding entry of each citation in the reference list at the end of the paper, where a full detail of the source is given.

In-text citation

In the Author-Date style, the sources are cited in parentheses in the text. The citation is usually containing the author’s last name, followed by the year of publication. There should be no space between them.

For example

(John 1998)

When quoting a particular text in a source, you should add a page number or a page range to direct readers to the exact page the text was copied from. The page number or range should appear after a comma after the publication year.

For example

(John 1998, 54)

(John 1998, 51-60)

Multiple Author Citation

When citing a source with multiple authors, their names should be written in the order that they appear in the source. If the source has three or fewer authors, then include the names of all the authors in your in-text citation. However, if the source has more than three authors, you should include only the name of the first author followed by “et al.” in the in-text citation.

For example

Two authors

(Azjen and Fishben 1978)

Three authors

(Grazer, Johnson, and Bauer 2009)

Four or more authors

(Bond et al. 2003)

In-Text Citation Placement

The citation should appear at the end of the relevant sentence, quotation or clause before any concluding punctuation. In the event where there are multiple citations at the same point, the citation should appear in the same parentheses separated by a semicolon.

For example

Researchers have been unable to come to a consensus on the issue (John 1998). However, there have been a series of evidence that supported both opinions on the issue (Johnson 2002; James 2005).

When the author’s name has been mentioned in the text, then the citation should come immediately after the name. Only the date and the page number should be enclosed in parentheses.

For example

Thompson (2009) gave ample reason why his method was the best approach. However, Sherlock (2011, 23) stated that “the method leads to a lot of failed experiments.”

Reference List

For the Author-Date, there should be a reference list at the end of your paper that provides detailed information about the sources cited in the paper. The entries in the reference list should begin with the author’s last name and the publication date. This is so that the reader will be able to find the sources encountered in the paper easily.

For example

John, Thompson. 1998. A New Book. New York: Greats.

The reference page should be titled “References” or “Works Cited” centred at the top of the page written in bold. Also, the entries in the reference list should be alphabetized by the author’s last name. Additionally, there should be a blank line between entries.

Also, the first line of each entry should be flushed to the right while their subsequent line should be indented 0.5 inches to the right.

For example

Ramili, R. (2011). The Internet, its Social and Ethical Problem. Journal of Science, Engineering and Technology, 5 (11)

Guidelines For Formatting The Entries In The Reference List 

The guideline for formatting the entries in the reference list is dependent on the type of the source being cited. The guideline for formatting each source type are as follows:

  • Book Citation 

When citing a book in the reference list, the citation should include the author(s) name, followed by the year of publication, followed by the book title in italics, the book’s edition, the place of publication of the book, the publisher name and the URL where the book can be found. These elements are all separated by specific punctuation. It is important to take note of this punctuation.


“Author’s last name,” “first name.” “Year. “Book Title.” “Edition.” “City of publication”: “Publisher’s name.” “URL”

For example

Vasquez, Garcia. 1998. The Beginning of the Epistle. 2nd edition. New York: Greats

  • Citation of a Book Chapter

To cite a chapter from a book, the format is the same as the book citation with the inclusion of the chapter title in quotation marks, the page range where the chapter can be found and the editors of the book.


  • Author last name,
  • First name.
  • Year.
  • “Chapter Title.”
  • In Book Title,
  • edited by Editor first name last name,
  • page range.
  • Place of publication: Publisher.

For example

Clinton, Bob. 2008. “The Exhibition has begun. ”Living in Sync With the Animals, edited by Andre Johnson, 102-80. London: Cambridge


  • Citation Of Journal Articles

Journal articles should include the article’s title in a quotation, the journal’s name in italics, the volume and issue number, the publication date in parentheses, the page range where the article can be found in the journal, the DOI or URL if the article can be found online.


  • Author last name,
  • First name.
  • Year.
  • “Article Title.”
  • Journal Name Volume,
  • Issue number
  • (Publication date): Page range.
  • DOI or URL.

For example

Reiner I., Tibubos A.N., and Hardt J. 2006. “Assessing the Intention to Engage in Digital Piracy.” Journal of Communicational Ethics, 5, 20 (May): 384-402. https://doi.org/10.1177/1527008673827.


  • Website Citation

Webpages and online articles require the page title, the name of the website, the date was the website was accessed and the website’s URL. In the event where there is no publication date, you should replace the year with “n.d”


  • Author last name,
  • First name.
  • Year.
  • “Page Title.”
  • Website
  • Name.
  • Access/revision date.
  • URL.


Morgan, Joseph. 2020. “A Definitive Guide to Chicago Format” Scientific Editing. Accessed May 9, 2020. https://www.scientificediting.com/chicago/guide.


  • Multiple author citation

Up to 10 authors can be listed in the citation entry in the reference list. If there are more than ten authors, only the first seven authors should be listed, followed by “et al.”


  • Multiple sources with the same author and year citation

This is when you have to cite multiple sources by the same author being published in the same year. In cases like this, you should include an identifier (a, b, c….) to distinguish between them. These sources should be alphabetized using their title in the reference list.

For example

Vasquez, Garcia. 1998a. The Beginning of the Epistle. 2nd edition. New York: Greats

Vasquez, Garcia. 1998b. Here We Go Again. 1st edition. New York: Greats.


Notes and Bibliography (NB) Style

The Notes and Bibliography (NB) style must include either a footnote or an endnote as well as a bibliography page.

In-Text Citation Using Footnotes or Endnotes

Footnotes are found at the bottom of every page of the paper, while endnotes are placed just before the bibliography page at the end of the paper.

To cite a source in-text, a small superscript number should be placed at the end of the relevant sentence, quotation. The numbers should be sequential throughout the paper.

For footnotes, the superscript numbers can be located at the footer of the page to view the reference information. While for endnotes, the superscript numbers can be located at the end of the paper to view the reference information.

Each of the numbers in the in-text citation must correspond to a numbered footnote or endnote. A writer may decide to use either footnotes or endnotes.

For example

The Internet use by adolescents and adults has grown beyond the initial objective for what it was created one being used for ethical and unethical activities 2.

pointing hand Short Note

Short notes are used when the sources have already been cited in full in the bibliography. The shortened notes contain the author’s last name, abbreviated title, and the appropriate page reference.

For example

  1. Isaiah, Internet, 120-122
  2. Woodstock, Ethics, 200-210

pointing hand Full Notes

Full notes are used if a bibliography is not included in the paper. You will need to add the full details to the note when citing a source. The full details usually contain the name of the author(s), the title of the work, place of publication, name of the publisher, and page number/s of the cited reference

For example

  1. Rajesh Patel, “15 Best Marketing Tools for 2019,” Entrepreneurial, January 12, 2020. http://www.entrepreneurial.com/article/marketing_tool
  2. Reiner I., Tibubos A.N., and Hardt J. “Assessing the Intention to Engage in Digital Piracy.” Journal of Communicational Ethics, 5, 20 (2006): 384-402.


The bibliography page is always at the end of the paper, containing the full list of sources cited in the text of your paper. The entries are listed in alphabetical order according to the authors’ last names.


Guidelines for formatting the entries in footnotes and endnotes

The guideline for citing a source in the bibliography (Note and Bibliography) is the same as that of citing sources in the reference list (Author-date). However, the formats for citing sources in the full note are quite different. The formats are as follows

pointing hand Book Citation

The format is in this order

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

For example

  1. Kennedy John, The Confirmation of War (New York: Knopf, 2007), 203-222

pointing hand Book Chapter Citation

The format is in this order

  • First name,
  • Last name of Chapter Author,
  • “Chapter or Article Title,”
  • in Book Title,
  • ed. First Name Last Name of Editor
  • (Publication Place: Publisher, Year),
  • Page range.

For example

  1. Geoffrey C. Ward, “But Enough About Me,” in Contemporary Art, ed. Russell Winslow (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010)

Journal articles citation

The format is in this order

  • First name Last name,
  • “Title of Article,”
  • Journal Title 
  • Volume Number,
  • No. of the issue (Year): Page range.

For example

  1. Daniel Mendelsohn, “Explanation of Plato’s Republic” Journal of Philosophy 20, no. 4 (2002): 100-121.

Website and online article citation

  • First name Last name of Author,
  • “Title of Article or Page,”
  • Title of Website,
  • Date published or last modified or accessed,
  • URL.

For example

  1. Abdul Abdullah, “The History of War,” MCA, accessed September 14, 2017, https://www.mca.com.au/collection/abdullah-abdul/

science proofreading of papers

Leave a Comment

Related Posts

Writing and abstract in Chicago format

Step-by-Step Instructions for Writing an Abstract in Chicago Format

Introduction An abstract is generally a one-paragraph summary of a paper that is written to give readers an insight as to what the paper is about. Authors write abstracts to present the main points of the paper to the readers. This is why an abstract is generally referred to as a snapshot of the focus…
Using Abbreviations in Chicago Format - A Clear Guide 1 | Scientific Editing

Using Abbreviations in Chicago Format – A Clear Guide

Introduction Abbreviations are essentially the shortened version of a phrase or word. The way abbreviations are to be used in a paper or essay is entirely dependent on the writing format you are using. Each writing format has its specific rules for abbreviations. The Chicago style is no exception to this, it, however, distinguishes between…
Paraphrasing and Quotation in Chicago Format

Paraphrasing and Quotation in Chicago Format

When you write a paper or an essay, you are expected to write the results of your research in your own words. That is why copying another author’s paper or, at the very least, using an idea from a source without citing the author is termed plagiarism. Plagiarism is a major form of academic dishonesty…
Numbers in Chicago format

Numbers in Chicago Format

Introduction When writing a nontechnical or a technical paper or essay, there is a high tendency of having to make use of numbers in your text, most especially if you are writing a scientific paper where you would have to report numerical information about your research. Most authors are fond of spelling out the numbers…
Chicago table of contents

Chicago Table of Contents: How to Create One

Introduction Table of contents refers to the list of the contents in a paper that is usually found in the preliminary pages of a paper. Plus, it usually gives the descriptions of the chapter and sections in the paper as well as their commencing page number. Just like most writing styles, Chicago style does not…