A Comprehensive Guide to Chicago Reference Page


Chicago has two documentation styles, which are the Notes-Bibliography System (NB) and the Author-Date system. The former is used by authors and students in literature, history, and the arts, while the latter, although similar, is used by authors and students in social sciences and pure sciences.

The two systems were both developed to convey all the important information about the sources used for a paper. However, they differ in terms of the way they direct readers to these sources but also in the way the information of sources is formatted.

The Notes-Bibliography System requires footnotes, endnotes, and bibliography, while the Author-Date system requires in-text citation and a reference list. They both require a page at the end of the paper to list the sources used in the paper in alphabetical order. This page is called the bibliography page in Notes-Bibliography System and the reference page in the Author-Date system.

The bibliography page or reference page is usually the final page of the paper. (Also learn about APA and MLA reference page)

Basic Chicago Reference Page Formatting Guidelines

Page formatting for the reference page should follow the same format as the rest of the paper. That is

  • Font: Any readable font, preferably Times New Roman.
  • Font size: 12pts
  • Margin: one-inch page margin on all sides
  • Spacing: double spacing
  • Page number: top right corner or bottom center
  • The reference list should be arranged in alphabetical order using the author’s last name
  • The page should be titled “bibliography” or “references” depending on the documentation system.
  • The first line of the entries should be flushed to the left, but the subsequent lines of the citation entries should be indented 0.5 inches to the right.

Example of Chicago referencing

Elements in the Chicago Reference Page

The citation entries for various source types may be formatted differently, but they should include the same common elements

check-mark Common Elements

All citation entries in the reference list should include the following

  • Author’s name
  • Title
  • Container
  • Numbers
  • Publication information
  • Location

check-mark Author’s Name

The author’s name of all the cited sources should be included in the citation entry. The author’s name should be the first element except the source does not list an author; then the name of the editor, compiler, or translator should be used in place of the author’s name.

In the event where there are no names listed, then the title should be the first element in the citation entry. The author’s name should be inverted; that is, the last name should come first, followed by the first name. The last name should be separated from the first name with a comma (Where to use commas).

For example

Bond, James

check-mark Titles

The title of the source should come after the author’s name separated by a period. The title of articles, chapters, poems, etc. should be placed in quotation marks.

For example

Bond, James. “The beginning of the end.”

check-mark Container

The container refers to the location where the source can be found. Plus, It usually comes after the title of the source, and a comma usually separates it. The container is usually italicized.

For example

Bond, James. “The beginning of the end,” Journal of modern pure sciences

check-mark Numbers

When the source container has more than one edition, issue, or volume, then these numbers must be included in the citation entry.

For example

Bond, James. “The beginning of the end,” Journal of modern pure sciences 13, no 4

check-mark Publication Information

The date of the publication should come immediately after the number of the source. For example

Bond, James. “The beginning of the end,” Journal of modern pure sciences 13, no 4 (2008)

check-mark Location

This refers to where in the container the source appears. The location is usually a page range, DOI, or a website.

For example

Bond, James. “The beginning of the end,” Journal of modern pure sciences 13, no 4 (2008): 34-52

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