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Chicago Manual of Style

What is Chicago?

The Chicago Manual of Style, currently on its 17th edition, contains a series of guidelines for formatting your paper and recording the sources used as support in the paper. Chicago has two forms:

  • The Notes and Bibliography style, which includes in-text citations in footnotes (at the bottom of each page) or endnotes (at the end of the paper, but before the reference list);
  • The Author-Date style, which includes in-text citations in brackets in the main part of the text.

Both styles also include a detailed bibliography at the end of the paper, listing all the sources used in the paper in alphabetical order and their publication information.

So, when would one need to use Chicago, and why? 

  • Using this citation and formatting style is often a requirement for subjects like history or music.
  • It is used for these subjects because it is a flexible style that allows you, as a writer, to cite a wide range of source formats; not just academic sources, but common primary and popular sources too (like song recordings, historical documents, images etc.)

Note: It is important to give credit to the authors and sources that inspired the original ideas in your writing. Not giving proper or sufficient credit is considered plagiarism, which can lead to serious consequences. Click on the link below to understand plagiarism and how to avoid it. If you are concerned or unsure about plagiarism on a specific assignment, talk to your instructor.

Important terms to remember

Paraphrased vs. direct quote: To paraphrase means to take someone's idea or words and put them into your own words - in this case, do not use quotation marks. A direct quote is when you take someone's idea word for word - in this case, use quotation marks. For any information that came from another source, paraphrased or directly quoted, ALWAYS include an in-text citation to indicate where that information came from.

Notes and Bibliography Style: The in-text citations for this style are placed at the bottom of each page (footnotes) or, sometimes, at the end of the document (endnotes). Your instructor will usually specify whether footnote or endnote citations are preferred for the class, but if you are not sure, ask your instructor directly. Click here to jump to our Notes and Bibliography guide.

Author-Date Style: The in-text citations for this style are placed in brackets in the main part of the text, similar to other citation styles like APA or MLA. Click here to jump to our Author-Date Style guide.

Bibliography: In both the Notes and Bibliography and Author-Date styles, the bibliography goes at the very end of the paper, and lists all of the sources cited within the paper in more detail (including the title, publisher, author[s], year, etc.) Everything cited in-text must have a corresponding citation in the bibliography, and vice versa.


One good way to stay organized is to create a full bibliographic entry at the same time as your in-text citation. This will save you a lot of time creating and managing your citations. 

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