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Chicago Manual of Style

Writing in Chicago Style

When editors or teachers ask you to write in "Chicago style," they do not mean writing style. They are referring to the editorial style that many of the arts and humanities have adopted.  "Chicago style" is simply an alternative citation format to styles such as APA or MLA.  The Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition), is the official resource for information on Chicago style.  The Chicago Manual of Style uses 1,000 pages of text to explain all its rules and variations.  The 15th edition is the current volume but the 16th edition of Chicago Style will be available in September of 2010.  Because of the amount of rules, shorter more concise versions of the Chicago Manual are produced. The most well known of which is:

A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations by Kate L. Turabian is now in its 8th edition (2013).  It explains practically everything an undergraduate will need to produce a well-documented research paper.  Students are advised to begin with Turabian and use the Chicago manual for more in depth purposes.

NOTE. This guide has not been updated to the 8th edition yet. (MM, February 5, 2015]

Parts of Chicago Style

Chicago style has three elements:

A number in superscript form (above the letter) in your text

For example, this sentence would appear in my paper, with the superscript1 indicating    the footnote/endnote number:

The courts in Helena provided a liberal definition of mental cruelty which then provided women with a path out of unhappy  marriages.1

Footnote at the bottom of the page or endnote at the end of the paper

           1Paula Petrik, No Step Backward: Women and Family on the Rocky Mountain Mining  Frontier (Helena: Montana Historical Society Press, 1987), 35.

Bibliography at the end of the paper

For example, this reference would appear at the end of my paper, arranged in alphabetical order  by author’s last name, along with all the other references I used:

Petrik, Paula. No Step Backward: Women and Family on the Rocky Mountain Mining
           Frontier. Helena: Montana Historical Society, 1987.

Each reference cited in the text must have a footnote/endnote and a full citation in the in the reference list at the end. This list is titled Bibliography. The good news is that word processing programs have features to help you generate and keep in order your footnotes/endnotes.  The bad news is that you still have to know how to format your references.

Tips for Styles

Follow the style guide – ALWAYS.  This is not time to be creative.  Don’t agonize about why the guide tells you to do something, just do it!


Be consistent.  If the style guide says to use italics for the title of the book or journal (and Chicago does) use italics ALWAYS.


Don’t mix style guides.  Chcago and MLA cannot be used simultaneously in a paper.  Choose one and stick to it.


If you don’t know how to cite a particular source, look it up.  The style guide has thought of nearly every type of source.


Print off the citation of the source you consulted, when you consult it. Don’t say, “I’ll do it later,” or “I am not sure I want to use this source, I’ll go back to it if I do.”  Going back later without the citation is often impossible.

Footnotes and Endnotes

With these style guides you can choose to use either footnotes or endnotes.  Always ask your instructor if s/he prefers one or the other. 

Place a raised number, called a superscript at the end of the last word of a quotation, paraphrase, or summary.  This number corresponds to the numbered note that provides citation information about your source. 

If you place the notes at the bottom of the page, they are called Footnotes.  Notes placed at the end of the paper are called Endnotes.  The notes are numbered consecutively.

Word processing programs have features that number and create footnote and endnotes within your paper.  You will still need to check the formatting of each individual citation to make sure it agrees with the style guide.

No matter which method you choose, you will also need to have a Bibliography at the end of your paper.