How to create a Chicago style bibliography

A Chicago style bibliography lists the sources cited in your text. Each bibliography entry begins with the author’s name and the title of the source, followed by relevant publication details. The bibliography is alphabetized by authors’ last names.

A bibliography is required if you have cited your sources with short notes. If you have given complete references for every source in full notes, a bibliography is not necessary.

However, in most cases, Chicago recommends the use of short notes and bibliography. This keeps your citation notes concise, and gives your reader an overview of all your sources in one place.

Chicago bibliography format

Chicago style bibliography examples

Bibliography entries vary in format depending on the type of source. Templates and examples for the most common source types are shown below.

TemplateAuthor Last Name, First Name. Book Title: Subtitle. Edition. Place of publication: Publisher, Year. DOI/URL.
ExampleWilliams, John. Stoner. London: Vintage, 2003.
  • The edition is always abbreviated (e.g. 2nd ed. or rev. ed.).
  • Only include the URL for books you consulted online.
TemplateAuthor Last Name, First Name. “Chapter Title.” In Book Title: Subtitle, edited by Editor First Name Last Name, page range. Place of publication: Publisher, Year. DOI/URL.
ExampleStewart, 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.
  • Use this format to cite a chapter in a multi-authored book. If all the chapters in a book were written by the same person, reference the whole book.
  • Begin the citation with the author of the chapter. The editor who compiled the book is listed later.
TemplateAuthor Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Journal Name Volume, no. Issue (Month Year): Page range. DOI/URL.
ExampleAndreff, W., and P. D. Staudohar. “The Evolving European Model of Professional Sports Finance.” Journal of Sports Economics 1, no. 3 (August 2000): 257–276.
  • The page range identifies the location of the article within the journal issue.
  • For articles accessed online, include a DOI (digital object identifier) where available, and a URL if not.
TemplateAuthor Last Name, First Name. “Page Title.” Website Name. Month Day, Year. URL.
ExampleScribbr. “Chicago Style Citation.” Accessed June 16, 2020.
  • If the author is unknown, list the organization or website name as author, and don’t repeat it later in the citation.
  • If no publication date is listed, include an access date instead.
  • The website name is not italicized, unless it is an online version of a newspaper or magazine.

Formatting the bibliography page

The bibliography appears at the end of your text. The heading Bibliography is bolded and centred at the top of the page.

Unlike the rest of a Chicago format paper, the bibliography is not double-spaced. However, add a single line space between entries.

If a bibliography entry extends onto more than one line, subsequent lines should be indented, as seen in the example below. This helps the reader to see at a glance where each new entry begins.

Example of a Chicago bibliography

Example of a Chicago style bibliography

There are further guidelines for formatting a Chicago style annotated bibliography, in which you write a paragraph of summary and evaluation under each source.

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Author names in the bibliography

Author names in the bibliography are inverted: The last name comes first, then the first name(s). Sources are alphabetized by author last name.

If a source has no named author, alphabetize by the first word of the title or organization name that starts the entry. Ignore articles (“the,” “a,” and “an”) for the purposes of alphabetization.

Sources with multiple authors

For sources with more than one author, only the first author’s name is inverted; subsequent names are written in the normal order.

For texts with up to 10 authors, all the authors’ names should be listed in the order they appear in the source, separated by commas.

Gmuca, Natalia V., Linnea E. Pearson, Jennifer M. Burns, and Heather E.M. Liwanag. “The Fat and the Furriest: Morphological Changes in Harp Seal Fur with Ontogeny.” Physiological and Biochemical Zoology 88, no. 2 (March/April 2015): 158–66.

If there are more than 10 authors, list the first seven, followed by “et al.

Multiple sources by the same author

If you include multiple works from the same author, only include the author name in the first entry. In subsequent entries, replace the name with three em dashes, followed by the rest of the citation formatted as normal. List the entries in alphabetical order by title.

Rhys, Jean. Good Morning, Midnight. London: Penguin, 2000.
———. Quartet. New York: W. W. Norton & Company, 1997.
———. Wide Sargasso Sea. London: Penguin, 1997.

Bibliography vs reference list

A reference list is mandatory in Chicago author-date style, where you cite sources in parentheses in the text. The only differences between a Chicago bibliography and a reference list are the heading and the placement of the date.

The reference list is headed “References.” In reference list entries, the publication date is placed immediately after the author’s name. This allows the reader to easily find a reference on the basis of the corresponding in-text citation.

Example of a Chicago reference list
Example of a Chicago reference list

Frequently asked questions about the Chicago bibliography

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.

Full note1. “An Introduction to Research Methods,” Scribbr, accessed June 11, 2020,
Short note2. Scribbr, “Research Methods.”
BibliographyScribbr. “An Introduction to Research Methods.” Accessed June 11, 2020.

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.

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.)
What is the difference between a reference list and a bibliography?

Both present the exact same information – the only difference is the placement of the year in source citations:

  • In a reference list entry, the publication year appears directly after the author’s name.
  • In a bibliography entry, the year appears near the end of the entry (the exact placement depends on the source type).

There are also other types of bibliography that work as stand-alone texts, such as an annotated bibliography.

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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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes and edits for Scribbr, and reads a lot of books in his spare time.

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