How to Cite a Book in Chicago Style | Format & Examples

Note: This article mainly covers notes and bibliography style. For author-date style, click here.

The basic formats for citing a book in a Chicago footnote and a bibliography entry are as follows:

Chicago book citation
Chicago bibliography Author last name, first name. Book Title: Subtitle. Place of publication: Publisher, Year.

Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. London: Penguin, 1997.

Full note Author first name last name, Book Title: Subtitle (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), Page number(s).

1. Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (London: Penguin, 1997), 34.

Short note Author last name, Shortened Book Title, Page number(s).

2. Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea, 54–55.

Short notes always follow the same basic format. Full notes and bibliography entries contain additional information if the book specifies an edition, translator, or editor, and follow a specific format when citing an individual chapter in a book.

Note that book citations look slightly different in Chicago author-date style. In both cases, make sure to pay attention to the punctuation (e.g., commas, quotation marks, and periods) in your notes and citations.

Citing a specific edition

Scholarly books often come in different editions with important differences in content. When edition information (e.g., “Second Edition,” “Revised Edition”) is stated on the cover and/or title page of the book, it should be included in your citation.

Edition information is always abbreviated and followed by a period (e.g., “2nd ed.” or “rev. ed.”).

Chicago book edition citation
Chicago bibliography Author last name, first name. Book Title: Subtitle. Edition. Place of publication: Publisher, Year.

Donaldson, Bruce. Dutch: A Comprehensive Grammar. 3rd ed. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge, 2017.

Full note Author first name last name, Book Title: Subtitle, edition. (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), Page number(s).

1. Bruce Donaldson, Dutch: A Comprehensive Grammar, 3rd ed. (Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge, 2017), 35.

Short note Author last name, Shortened Book Title, Page number(s).

2. Donaldson, Dutch, 76.

Translated books

When a book is translated from another language, it’s important to identify the translator as well as the author. “Translated by” is abbreviated to “trans.” in the citation.

In the bibliography, the words “Translated by” are written in full. The translator’s name is not inverted, unlike that of the author.

Chicago translated book citation
Chicago bibliography Author last name, first name. Book Title: Subtitle. Translated by Translator first name last name. Place of publication: Publisher, Year.

Mann, Thomas. The Magic Mountain. Translated by H. T. Lowe-Porter. London: Vintage, 1999.

Full note Author first name last name, Book Title: Subtitle, trans. Translator first name last name (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), Page number(s).

1. Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter (London: Vintage, 1999), 450.

Short note Author last name, Shortened Book Title, Page number(s).

2. Mann, Magic Mountain, 312.

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Citing a chapter from a book

When referring to a chapter from a multi-authored book (such as an essay collection or anthology), cite the specific chapter rather than the whole book. This means listing the author and title of the chapter first, then providing information about the book as a whole.

The editor’s name is preceded by “ed.” in a note and by “edited by” in the bibliography. A page range is included in the bibliography entry to show the location of the chapter in the book.

A short note just lists the chapter title, not that of the book, and omits the editor’s name.

Chicago book chapter citation
Chicago bibliography 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.

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.

Full note Author first name last name, “Chapter Title,” in Book Title: Subtitle, ed. Editor first name last name (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), Page number(s).

1. Bob Stewart, “Wag of the Tail: Reflecting on Pet Ownership,” in Enriching Our Lives with Animals, ed. John Jaimeson (Toronto: Petlove Press, 2007), 226.

Short note Author last name, “Shortened Chapter Title,” Page number(s).

2. Stewart, “Wag of the Tail,” 275.

E-books and online books

When citing a book you accessed online or in the form of an e-book, simply add relevant information about its format or location to the end of your citation.

Note that books in these formats might lack reliable page numbers. If there are no page numbers, or page numbers that would look different for another user, use another locator in your notes instead, such as a chapter number.

For an online book, add the URL or DOI where it can be accessed.

Chicago online book citation
Chicago bibliography Author last name, first name. Book Title: Subtitle. Place of publication: Publisher, Year. URL or DOI.

Murdoch, Iris. The Sea, the Sea. London: Vintage, 2008. https://books.google.nl/books?id=IJ5fL72Vvs8C.

Full note Author first name last name, Book Title: Subtitle (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), Page number(s) or Alternate locator, URL or DOI.

1. Iris Murdoch, The Sea, the Sea (London: Vintage, 2008), 126, https://books.google.nl/books?id=IJ5fL72Vvs8C.

Short note Author last name, Shortened Book Title, Page number(s) or Alternate locator.

2. Murdoch, The Sea, the Sea, 129.

For an e-book, add the format or device name (e.g., “Kindle,” “iBooks”). You don’t need to add a URL or DOI in this case.

Chicago e-book citation
Chicago bibliography Author last name, first name. Book Title: Subtitle. Place of publication: Publisher, Year. Format.

Murdoch, Iris. The Sea, the Sea. London: Vintage, 2008. Kindle.

Full note Author first name last name, Book Title: Subtitle (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), Page number(s) or Alternate locator, Format.

1. Iris Murdoch, The Sea, the Sea (London: Vintage, 2008), chap. 5, Kindle.

Short note Author last name, Shortened Book Title, Page number(s) or Alternate locator.

2. Murdoch, The Sea, the Sea, chap. 3.

Citing books in Chicago author-date style

In author-date style, books are cited with brief in-text citations corresponding to entries in a reference list. A reference list looks the same as a bibliography, except that the year is placed directly after the author’s name.

Chicago author-date format Author last name, first name. Year. Book Title: Subtitle. Place of publication: Publisher.
Chicago reference entry Rhys, Jean. 1997. Wide Sargasso Sea. London: Penguin.
Chicago author-date citation (Rhys 1997, 34)
Chicago author-date format Author last name, first name. Year. Book Title: Subtitle. Edition. Place of publication: Publisher.
Chicago reference entry Donaldson, Bruce. 2017. Dutch: A Comprehensive Grammar. 3rd ed. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge.
Chicago author-date citation (Donaldson 2017, 67)
Chicago author-date format Author last name, first name. Year. Book Title: Subtitle. Translated by Translator first name last name. Place of publication: Publisher.
Chicago reference entry Mann, Thomas. 1999. The Magic Mountain. Translated by H. T. Lowe-Porter. London: Vintage.
Chicago author-date citation (Mann 1999, 405)
Chicago author-date format Author last name, first name. Year. “Chapter Title.” In Book Title: Subtitle, edited by Editor first name last name, Page range. Place of publication: Publisher.
Chicago reference entry Stewart, Bob. 2007. “Wag of the Tail: Reflecting on Pet Ownership.” In Enriching Our Lives with Animals, edited by John Jaimeson, 220–90. Toronto: PetlovePress.
Chicago author-date citation (Stewart 2007, 228)
Chicago author-date format Author last name, first name. Year. Book Title: Subtitle. Place of publication: PublisherURL or DOI.
Chicago reference entry Murdoch, Iris. 2008. The Sea, the Sea. London: Vintage. https://books.google.nl/books?id=IJ5fL72Vvs8C.
Chicago author-date citation (Murdoch 2008, 23)
Chicago author-date format Author last name, first name. Year. Book Title: Subtitle. Place of publication: Publisher. Format.
Chicago reference entry Murdoch, Iris. 2008. The Sea, the Sea. London: Vintage. Kindle.
Chicago author-date citation (Murdoch 2008, chap. 5)

Frequently asked questions about Chicago style citations

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 10 authors. If there are more than 10, 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.

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 for my Chicago citations?

In Chicago notes and bibliography style, the usual standard is to use a full note for the first citation of each source, and short notes for any subsequent citations of the same source.

However, your institution’s guidelines may differ from the standard rule. In some fields, you’re required to use a full note every time, whereas in some other fields you can use short notes every time, as long as all sources are listed in your bibliography. If you’re not sure, check with your instructor.

What is the difference between a Chicago 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 a Chicago annotated bibliography.

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Jack Caulfield

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