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Chicago Style Citations and Formatting Guide

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) explains various subjects starting from preparation of manuscript, publication, documents to grammar use. Indeed, many refer to it as “editors’ bible.” Information in this current resources focuses mainly on the Notes-Bibliography system (NB) of the CMOS documentation format.

The Notes-Bibliography system is applied by authors writing works in history, arts and literature. The second CMOS documentation, the Author-Date system, has a lot of similarities in content though it slightly differs in format and is preferred by writers in social sciences.

If you consult the The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.) and you want additional information, then you can get useful details from Kate L. Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (8th ed.). Kate provides a manual on what is commonly referred to as “Turabian” citation style, which is similar to the CMOS though with slight changes appropriate for students’ work.

Notes and Bibliography (NB) in Chicago style

Citation of Chicago NB format is normally applied in humanities and offers writers with a style to reference their sources using footnotes or EndNote within their writing and on their bibliography pages. This format also allows writers to have an avenue where they can comment on the cited materials. Mostly, the NB format is applied in history subject.

When NB format is properly used it can shield writers from being accused of plagiarism (using one’s work without acknowledging it either accidental or intentionally). More so, proper application of NB format creates credibility by illustrating accountability to sources used.

When you advised to apply use the Chicago NB system, ensure that you refer to The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.). Also consult A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (8th ed.). These two manuals are readily available in reference libraries and writing centers.

Introduction to Notes

Citation using NB system requires that students use a note (footnote or endnote) every time they use a source, be it direct quotation, via a paraphrase or summary. You add footnotes at the end of the page where the source has been references, while endnotes are added at the final chapter of a document or at the very end of the whole document.

In whatever way, a superscript number matching to a note that has the bibliographic details of the source has to be put in the text at the close of the sentence. It can also be placed at the clause where the source has to be referenced.

Supposing the work has got a bibliography, and then there is no need of providing entire publication information in the notes. Nonetheless, where the bibliography is not given with a certain work, then, the first note of the every source ought to provide all required details regarding the source. This include, full name of the author, source title, and details of publication.

When you cite the for the second time, or where the bibliography is provided in the paper, include only the surname of the author in the note, shorten format of the title (where the title is over four words) and the page number (s).

Nonetheless, supposing the paper/document you are writing does not have a bibliography, CMOS recommends that full citation should be given again when it is first applied in a new section/chapter.

In divergence to previous editions of CMOS, supposing you are citing the same source, two  or many times successively, it is recommended that  you use shorten citations. Where the work has a bibliography, shorten the first reference that you cite, and only provide the name of the author, the title and the page number(s), and you may omit the title and just include author’s name and page number.

Though CMOS discourages the use of “Ibid” supposing you cite the same source and page from one source twice or more successively you may as well use the “Ibid.”  but follow it a comma and the page number used.

When using footnotes or endnotes in NB system start with the proper full-sized number and then place a period and a space.

 Introduction to Bibliographies

When using the NB system, provide all sources used in the bibliography, which should be arrange alphabetically. Generally, the page is titled as “Bibliography,” and is normally put at the end of the paper prior to the index. Ensure that do not miss out any source cited in your work.

The bibliography page may as well include other related sources not cited in the work, bit provided for further reading.

Though you may format the entries in the bibliography in a different way, all used sources (journal, books, websites etc.) have to be arranged in alphabetic way, based on author’s last name. Where the author or editor is not provided, the title of the source or descriptive phase of the source may be applied.

Even though it is useful, you need not to provide a bibliography in works where full bibliographic details were provided in the notes.

 Common Elements

Every entry given in the bibliography should have the following details: author name (editor, translator, and complier), title and details on publication.

 Author’s Names

Invert the name of the author when you enter it in the bibliography, start with the last name; place a comma (to separate the name) with the second one. For instance James Gates becomes Gates, James. (where the authors name is not listed first for example in compilers, translators, etc.)


Books and journal titles are written in italics. However, for titles of chapter, articles, poems, films etc. put them in quotation marks.

 Publication Information

List the publication year after the journal name or the publisher


In a bibliography, all major elements are separated by periods.

For addition information and detailed example of citation, refer to section on books and periodicals.

NOTE BELOW: This resource offers general information concerning the formatting of entries that have been used in the bibliography. To get further information on selected bibliographies, bibliographic essays, and annotated bibliographies, kindly  refer to Chapter 14.61 of The Chicago Manual of Style (17th ed.).