chicago style

How to Cite and Reference in Chicago Style

Chicago Reference Style

The Chicago writing style is a style guide published in 1906 by the University of Press. The reference in Chicago Style or Manual of Style contains 17 editions that prescribe writing and citation styles. Reference in Chicago style is one of the most used style guides within the United States. This Reference in Chicago writing and citation style is used in the disciplines of history, philosophy, religion, and arts. In writing, there are various steps that one needs to follow in formatting their research paper. These steps will lead to a correctly Chicago formatted research paper.

General formatting

  • Use a standard font, for example, the 12pt. Times New Roman.
  • Double-space the text.
  • Use an inch margin on the sides, the top, and the bottom.
  • Indent new paragraphs by ½ inch.

Cover Page

  • The Chicago Manual of Style does not require a title page. It is more sufficient to have the title at the top of the first page.
  • All the text on the title page should be aligned at the center, double–spaced, and written in the same font as the other parts of the text.
  • The title ought to be 1/3 of the way down the page. It should be capitalized and in bold.
  • If you have a subtitle, the main title should end with a colon while the subtitle appears on the following line.
  • The subtitle should also be in bold and in the same font as the title.
  • Number the pages in the top right corner of the paper or the bottom center.
  • The Text should be left-aligned and not justified.
  • The title page should not have a page number but ought to be included in the page count. The page numbering should begin on page two.


  • All the headings should be capitalized.
  • The different levels of headings should be presented similarly, while the higher-level titles stand out more.
  • It would help if you differentiated the different levels of headings.

Numbers and acronyms

  • Numerals are most preferred instead of words, especially for numbers below 100. For example, Twenty three children left with the school bus.
  • However, numerals can be used when referring to a specific measurement. For example, 2.5m.
  • You can use
  • It would help if you introduced acronyms the first time they are used. After which, you can use the acronyms alone. You can include the acronyms in parentheses after the full name—for example, North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).
  • A sentence should begin with neither numerals nor acronyms. However, one can rewrite the sentence for acronyms or numerals to appear in other parts of a sentence.

1000 brochures were stamped by the County Officer. (Wrong statement)

The County Officer stamped the 1000 brochures. (Right statement)            

 Notes and Bibliography

It is essential to use notes after using a source. A source may include a direct quote or paraphrase. The notes are either endnotes or footnotes. Citations appear in footnotes and endnotes, and they use superscript numbers within the text.  Footnotes are added at the end of the page where the source is referenced.

Footnotes ought to be separated from the text through a short rule. They ought to be of the same font size as the main text or relatively more minor.  The Word contains the footnote function, which operates automatically and creates footnotes.

Endnotes are compiled at the end of each chapter or the end of an entire document. Endnotes appear before the bibliography. The endnotes should be in Times New Roman 10pt font.

You should place a note number at the end of the sentence where a reference occurs even though a cited material is mentioned at the beginning of a sentence. It is set after all punctuations at the end of the sentence. Arabic numerals such as 1,2,3, and Roman ones such as i, ii, iii should be used in the notes.

Each reference should have a new number. Therefore you should not reuse a number. The first line of each note ought to be indented. You should separate multiple sources within a single note with a semicolon. You should not use two note numbers at the end of a sentence.

The format of the notes is:

  • First Name Last Name of Author, ‘Title of Page,” Title of Website, Month Day, date published or accessed.


  • The bibliography should be on a separate page with the Bibliography word at the center of the page and bolded in Times New Roman 12pt font.
  • The heading should not be of a larger size font or in bold.
  • Use a hanging indent where the first line of the citation begins at the margin while the subsequent lines are indented.
  • In case a source has no author, alphabetize it by title within the authors.
  • You should not separate the primary sources from the secondary sources.
  • The bibliography is used in the notes and bibliography style, while a reference list is used in the author-date.

There are two types of Chicago Manual of Style documentation styles. First, there are the Notes-Bibliography System and the Author-Date System. The Notes-Bibliography System is commonly used in literature, history, humanities, and the arts. The system uses numbered endnotes and footnotes to cite resources and a corresponding bibliography at the end of the paper. The author-date references system uses in-text parenthetical references and a corresponding Reference List. The parenthetical references are used within the text of a document which leads a reader to the reference list. The parenthetical reference will consist of the author’s last name and the publication date of the article being cited.

In-text citations

The Chicago Manual of Style provides the author dates and notes and bibliography in-text citations. In the author-date style, sources are placed in the text in parentheses. For example, Linus (2017) argues that health tech has its disadvantages. However, health tech has significantly contributed to the healthcare systems (Lee et al., 2017; John 2018).

In notes and bibliography style, citations appear in footnotes and endnotes, and the reader is referred to them by superscript numbers in the text. Footnote and endnote numbers appear at the end of a relevant sentence and after any punctuation except a dash. –

Endnotes appear on a different page before the bibliography page, while footnotes appear at the bottom of each page.

 Watch out for these common Errors in Chicago Style

  • Reuse of numbers in the notes.

Each citation should get a new number.

  • Lack of using indents, especially with the bibliography and reference list.

Notes use the first-line indent, while a bibliography uses a hanging indent.

  • It would be best if you did not put cited work on top of the bibliography. This is an MLA style of writing.
  • A bibliography goes in alphabetical order by author. Notes are numbered and listed in the order in which the sources are used.