Chicago Style Citation

Chicago Manual of StyleThe Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition) contains guidelines for two styles of citation: notes and bibliography and author-date.

Notes and bibliography is the most common type of Chicago style citation, and the main focus of this article. It is widely used in the humanities. Citations are placed in footnotes or endnotes, with a bibliography listing your sources in full at the end.

Author-date style is mainly used in the sciences. It uses parenthetical in-text citations, always accompanied by a reference list at the end.

Citing sources with notes

To cite sources in Chicago notes and bibliography style, place a superscript number at the end of a sentence or clause, after the punctuation mark, corresponding to a numbered footnote or endnote.

Chicago footnote citation example

Covey asserts that the success literature of the twentieth century is “filled with social image consciousness, techniques, and quick fixes.”1

1. Covey, 7 Habits, 18.

Footnotes appear at the bottom of each page, while endnotes appear at the end of the text. Choose one or the other and use it consistently.

Most word processing softwares can automatically link your superscript numbers and notes.

Full notes vs. short notes

Citations can take the form of full notes or short notes. Full notes provide complete source information, while short notes include only the author’s last name, the source title, and the page number(s) of the cited passage.

You have two options for which type of notes to use:

  1. Full and short notes: If you don’t include a bibliography, the first citation of each source must be a full note. Subsequent citations of the same source should be short notes.
  2. Short notes and bibliography: If your text includes a bibliography listing full source information, all of your notes can be short notes.

Multiple authors in Chicago notes

When a source has multiple authors, list up to three in your note citations. When there are four or more, use “et al.” (Latin for “and others”).

Chicago note citation examples

A Chicago footnote or endnote citation always contains the author’s name and the title of the source. The other elements vary by the type of source you’re citing.

Page number(s) should be included if you are referring to a specific part of the text. The elements of the citation are separated by commas, and the note always ends with a period.

Navigate through the Chicago citation examples using the tabs below.

When citing a book, if an edition is specified, include it in abbreviated form (e.g. 2nd ed.). If the book was accessed online, add a URL.

This is an example of a full note,1 and this is an example of a short note.2

1. Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 3rd ed. (New York: Free Press, 1989), 75–89.
2. Covey, 7 Habits, 75–7.
Full note Author full name, Book Title: Subtitle, edition. (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), page numbers, URL.
Short note Author last name, Shortened Book Title, page number(s).

When citing a chapter from a multi-authored book, start with details of the chapter, followed by details of the book.

This is an example of a full note,1and this is an example of a shortened note.2

1. Bob Stewart, “Wag of the Tail: Reflecting on Pet Ownership,” in Enriching Our Lives with Animals, ed. John Jaimeson (Toronto: Petlove Press, 2007), 87.
2. Stewart, “Wag of the Tail,” 88.
Full note Author full name, “Chapter Title,” in Book Title: Subtitle, ed. Editor full name (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), page number(s).
Short note Author last name, “Shortened Chapter Title,” page number(s).

To cite a journal article, you need to specify the volume and issue as well as the date.

This is an example of a full note,1 and this is an example of a shortened note2.

1. Hannes Datta, “The Challenge of Retaining Customers Acquired with Free Trials,” Journal of Marketing Research 52, no. 2 (2015): 220, www.jstor.org/stable/43832354.
2. Datta, “Challenge of Retaining Customers,” 220.
Full note Author full name, “Article Title,” Journal Name Volume, no. Issue</span? (Year): page number, DOI/URL.
Short note Author last name, “Shortened Article Title,” page number(s).

Web pages often have no author or date specified. If the author is unknown, start with the title in a full note, and use the website name as author in a short note. If the publication date is unknown, include the date you accessed the information (e.g. accessed on March 12, 2019).

This is an example of a full note,1 and this is an example of a shortened note.2

1. Jack Caulfield, “How to Do Thematic Analysis,” Scribbr, September 6, 2019, https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/thematic-analysis/.
2. Caulfield, “Thematic Analysis.”
Full note Author full name, “Page Title,” Website Title, Month Day, Year, URL.
Short note Author last name, “Shortened Page Title.”

Creating a Chicago style bibliography

The bibliography lists full references for all your sources. It appears at the end of your paper (before any appendices).

Author names are inverted in the bibliography, and sources are alphabetized by author last name. Each source is listed on a new line, with a hanging indent applied to sources that run over onto multiple lines.

If a source has multiple authors, list up to 10 in the bibliography. If there are 11 or more, list the first seven followed by “et al.”

Example of a Chicago Style bibliography

Example of a Chicago style bibliography

When to include a bibliography

It is not mandatory to include a bibliography if you have cited your sources with full notes. However, it is recommended to include one in most cases, with the exception of very short texts with few sources.

When you include a bibliography, all your citations can be in the form of short notes.

Chicago style bibliography examples

Bibliography entries vary in format according to source type. Formats and examples for some common source types are shown below.

Format Author last name, first name. Book Title: Subtitle. Edition. Place of publication: Publisher, Year. URL.
Example Covey, Stephen. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Free Press, 1989.
Format Author last name, first name. “Chapter Title.” In Book Title: Subtitle, edited by Editor first name last name, page range. Place of publication: Publisher, Year.
Example Stewart, Bob. “Wag of the Tail: Reflecting on Pet Ownership.” In Enriching Our Lives with Animals, edited by John Jaimeson, 220–90. Toronto: Petlove Press, 2007.
Format Author last name, first name. “Article Title.” Journal Name Volume, no. Issue (Month Year): Page range. DOI/URL.
Example Datta, Hannes. “The Challenge of Retaining Customers Acquired with Free Trials.” Journal of Marketing Research 52, no. 52 (April 2015): 217–34. www.jstor.org/stable/43832354.
Format Author last name, first name. “Page Title.” Website Name. Month Day, Year. URL.
Example Caulfield, Jack. “How To Do Thematic Analysis.” Scribbr. September 6, 2019. https://www.scribbr.com/methodology/thematic-analysis/.

Chicago author-date style

In the (social) sciences, you may be told to use author-date style instead. In this style, citations appear in parentheses in the text.

Chicago author-date example
The success literature of the twentieth century is “filled with social image consciousness, techniques, and quick fixes” (Covey 1989, 18).

Unlike note citations, author-date citations look the same for all source types.

Reference list

Author-date citations are always accompanied by a reference list. The reference list is similar to a bibliography: It appears at the end of your text and lists all your sources in full.

The only difference is that the publication year comes straight after the author name, to match with the in-text citations. For example, the book reference from above looks like this in author-date style.

Covey, Stephen. 1989. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Free Press.

Chicago Author-Date Quick Guide

Frequently asked questions about Chicago style citation

How do I cite a source with multiple authors in Chicago style?

In a Chicago style footnote, list up to three authors. If there are more than three, name only the first author, followed by “et al.

In the bibliography, list up to ten authors. If there are more than ten, list the first seven followed by “et al.”

Full note Short note Bibliography
2 authors Anna Burns and Robert Smith Burns and Smith Burns, Anna, and Robert Smith.
3 authors Anna Burns, Robert Smith, and Judith Green Burns, Smith, and Green Burns, Anna, Robert Smith, and Judith Green.
4+ authors Anna Burns et al. Burns et al. Burns, Anna, Robert Smith, Judith Green, and Maggie White.

The same rules apply in Chicago author-date style.

How do I cite a source with no author in Chicago style?

In a Chicago footnote citation, when the author of a source is unknown (as is often the case with websites), start the citation with the title in a full note. In short notes and bibliography entries, list the organization that published it as the author.

Type Example
Full note 1. “An Introduction to Research Methods,” Scribbr, accessed June 11, 2020, https://www.scribbr.com/category/methodology/.
Short note 2. Scribbr, “Research Methods.”
Bibliography Scribbr. “An Introduction to Research Methods.” Accessed June 11, 2020. https://www.scribbr.com/category/methodology/.

In Chicago author-date style, treat the organization as author in your in-text citations and reference list.

How do I cite a source with no date in Chicago style?

When an online source does not list a publication date, replace it with an access date in your in footnote citations and your bibliography:

Example: Chicago bibliography entry with access date
Scribbr. “How to Write a Research Paper.” Accessed June 9, 2020. https://www.scribbr.com/category/research-paper/.

If you are using author-date in-text citations, or if the source was not accessed online, replace the date with “n.d.”

Example: Chicago author-date citation with no date
(Scribbr, n.d.)
When should I include page numbers in Chicago style citations?

Page numbers should be included in your Chicago in-text citations when:

  • You’re quoting from the text.
  • You’re paraphrasing a particular passage.
  • You’re referring to information from a specific section.

When you’re referring to the overall argument or general content of a source, it’s unnecessary to include page numbers.

Should I use short notes or full notes?

If your text includes a Chicago style bibliography, you only ever need to use short notes. Each short note must correspond to a bibliography entry.

If you do not include a bibliography, your first citation of each source should be a full note, while all subsequent citations should be short notes.

Do I have to include a bibliography or reference list?

In Chicago author-date style, your text must include a reference list. It appears at the end of your paper and gives full details of every source you cited.

In notes and bibliography style, you use Chicago style footnotes to cite sources; a bibliography is optional but recommended. If you don’t include one, be sure to use a full note for the first citation of each source.

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