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Citation & Documentation

Chicago Style: An Overview

Chicago Style is the preferred citation system for publishing academic or scholarly works. It is also commonly used in a variety of disciplines, particularly in the humanities (literature, history, the arts, etc.). Chicago can be a bit confusing, since not only are there the Notes-Bibliography and Author-Date means of citing, but there is also the Chicago Manual of Style and the Turabian Manual for Writers, which offers a sort-of “streamlined” version of Chicago. Don’t worry, we’ll break it down for you.

The Chicago Manual of Style presents two basic documentation systems, the Humanities style (notes and bibliography) and the Author-Date system. Choosing between the two often depends on subject matter and nature of sources cited, as each system is favored by different groups of scholars.

The Humanities style is preferred by many in literature, history, and the arts. This style presents bibliographic information in notes and, often, a bibliography. It accommodates a variety of sources, including esoteric ones less appropriate to the author-date system.

The more concise Author-Date system has long been used by those in the physical, natural, and social sciences. In this system, sources are briefly cited in the text, usually in parentheses, by author’s last name and date of publication. The short citations are amplified in a list of references, where full bibliographic information is provided.

The two dropdown pages provide some common examples of materials cited in both styles. For numerous specific examples, see chapters 16 and 17 of The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition.

Online sources that are analogous to print sources (such as articles published in online journals, magazines, or newspapers) should be cited similarly to their print counterparts but with the addition of a URL. Some publishers or disciplines may also require an access date. For online or other electronic sources that do not have a direct print counterpart (such as an institutional Web site or a Weblog), give as much information as you can in addition to the URL.

Style Guides

The most recent editions of Turabian's A Manual for Writers and The Chicago Manual of Style are available in print.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017.

(Available in print at the Writing Center)    

Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago

         Style for Students and Researchers, 9th Edition. Chicago: Chicago University Press,


(Click on button below to access online guide)


Turabian Guide

Additional Info

Additional information on Chicago/Turabian style may be found at these websites:

Author Date vs. Notes Bibliography

Chicago is fairly unique in that it offers two ways to cite sources: Author-Date and Notes-Bibliography. Your professor should specify which format you will be using in your paper; if they do not specify, you can generally assume that you will be using Notes-Bibliography as it is the most common way to format in Chicago.

Author-Date is most similar to other citation styles, like MLA or APA. This style includes parenthetical citations that include the author’s last name, the publication year, and page number if applicable. An in-text citation in Author-Date may look like: (Hemingway 1940, 123).

Author-Date also includes a reference list, which is similar to a bibliography or works cited page. The purpose of the reference list is to alphabetically list all of the sources that are cited in the paper. What makes a reference list in Author-Date style unique is that in a reference list citation, the year published is written immediately after the author’s name, rather than the title of the work. A reference list citation in Author-Date may look like:

Hemingway, Ernest. 1940. For Whom the Bell Tolls. New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons.

Remember, if your reference list citations is 2+ lines long, you need to begin a hanging indent on the second line. A hanging indent may look like:


Wagner, Linda Welshimer. 1963. “Ophelia: Shakespeare’s Pathetic Plot Device.” Shakespeare

         Quarterly 14, no. 1 (Winter 1963): 94-97. doi: 10.2307/2868164.


Notes-Bibliography is the more common way to cite in Chicago Style. Rather than use parenthetical in-text citations, Notes-Bibliography uses footnotes or endnotes for in-text citations. Cited information in-text will be followed by a superscript number, which corresponds with either a footnote citation or endnote citation.

The choice to use footnotes or endnotes is usually up to you, the writer. However, your professor may specify one to use over the other-- it’s always a good idea to ask if you are unsure. The difference between the two is simply where those citations appear. In footnote citations, the citations will appear at the bottom of the same page on which they are cited. Endnote citations, however, compile all in-text citations at the end of the paper (but before the bibliography) in the order in which they appear in the paper. Each citation, whether footnote or endnote, corresponds with the superscript number used with a given quote or paraphrase in the paper. NOTE: Superscript numbers are sequential, always beginning at 1. You do not need to restart your numbering at any point in the paper.

Notes-Bibliography also includes a full bibliography in addition to footnote or endnote citations. The structure of a footnote/endnote citation and a bibliographic citation are different. You cannot simply copy-paste a footnote/endnote into the bibliography. The bibliography is also alphabetical, and does not list citations in the order that they appear.


A footnote/endnote citation may look like:

¹Robert W. Gutman, Mozart: A Cultural Biography (New York: Harcourt Brace, 1999), 41.


A bibliographic citation of the same source may look like:

Gutman, Robert W. Mozart: A Cultural Biography. New York: Harcourt Brace, 1999.

As you can see, the in-text citation includes the page number cited, and does not list the author’s last name first.


Something to note about footnote/endnote citations is that if you are citing the same source more than once consecutively (i.e, immediately after one another), you can do a shortened version of the in-text citation. Previously, you could write “Ibid” and the page number, but this is discouraged in the 17th edition of Chicago. Here is an example of what this might look like:


²Randolph Hock and Gary Price, The Extreme Searcher’s Internet Handbook: A Guide for the Serious Searcher (Medford: CyberAge Books, 2004), 93-4.

³Hock and Price, 86-7.


The difference in the Chicago Manual of Style and Turabian’s Manual for Writers can really be seen in the way that Notes-Bibliography citations are notated. So far, we have been using superscript for citations, which is preferred by Turabian (and is most common in Notes-Bibliography). However, the Chicago manual style uses a number in parentheses, and then the same number in the footnotes/endnotes followed by a period to denote the citation. It may look something like this (4).


4. University of Chicago Press, The Chicago Manual of Style, 80-1.


The differences between the Chicago and Turabian styles are mainly seen in how notes are numbered.

In Turabian style, use superscript 1 for endnote and footnote numbers in the text and at the beginning of each note.

In Chicago style, the note number in the text is in parentheses (1) and is followed by a period and space in the note, as in the following example:

1. Chicago