How to cite a book in Chicago style

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

Full note format Author first name last name, Book Title: Subtitle (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), page number(s).
Short note format Author last name, Shortened Book Title, page number(s).
Bibliography format Author last name, first name. Book Title: Subtitle. Place of publication: Publisher, Year.
Full note example 1. Jean Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea (London: Penguin, 1997), 34.
Short note example 2. Rhys, Wide Sargasso Sea, 54–55.
Bibliography example Rhys, Jean. Wide Sargasso Sea. London: Penguin, 1997.

 

Short notes always follow the same 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.

Citing a specific edition

Many books 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.”).

Full note: Book edition
Format Author first name last name, Book Title: Subtitle, edition. (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), page number(s).
Example 1. Bruce Donaldson, Dutch: A Comprehensive Grammar, 3rd ed. (Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge, 2017), 35.
Bibliography: Book edition
Format Author last name, first name. Book Title: Subtitle. Edition. Place of publication: Publisher, Year.
Example Donaldson, Bruce. Dutch: A Comprehensive Grammar. 3rd ed. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge, 2017.

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.

Full note: Translated book
Format Author first name last name, Book Title: Subtitle, trans. Translator first name last name (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), page number(s).
Example 1. Thomas Mann, The Magic Mountain, trans. H. T. Lowe-Porter (London: Vintage, 1999), 450.

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

Bibliography: Translated book
Format Author last name, first name. Book Title: Subtitle. Translated by Translator first name last name. Place of publication: Publisher, Year
Example Mann, Thomas. The Magic Mountain. Translated by H. T. Lowe-Porter. London: Vintage, 1999.

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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. In a note citation, the editor’s name is preceded by “ed.”

Full note: Book chapter
Format 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).
Example 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.

In the bibliography, the editor’s name is preceded by “edited by.” A page range is included to show the location of the chapter in the book.

Bibliography: Book chapter
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.

E-books and online books

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

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

Chicago online book citation
Full note 1. Iris Murdoch, The Sea, the Sea (London: Vintage, 2008), 126, https://books.google.nl/books?id=IJ5fL72Vvs8C.
Bibliography Murdoch, Iris. The Sea, the Sea. London: Vintage, 2008.https://books.google.nl/books?id=IJ5fL72Vvs8C.

For an e-book, add the format or device name (e.g. “Kindle,” “iBooks”). Note that books in these formats might lack reliable page numbers. If you need to specify a particular passage, use another locator in your notes instead, such as a chapter number.

Chicago e-book citation
Full note 1. Iris Murdoch, The Sea, the Sea (London: Vintage, 2008), chap. 5, Kindle.
Bibliography Murdoch, Iris. The Sea, the Sea. London: Vintage, 2008. Kindle.

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.

In-text citation (Rhys 1997, 34)
Reference list Rhys, Jean. 1997. Wide Sargasso Sea. London: Penguin.
In-text citation (Donaldson 2017, 67)
Reference list Donaldson, Bruce. 2017. Dutch: A Comprehensive Grammar. 3rd ed. Abingdon-on-Thames: Routledge.
In-text citation (Mann 1999, 405)
Reference list Mann, Thomas. 1999. The Magic Mountain. Translated by H. T. Lowe-Porter. London: Vintage.
In-text citation (Stewart 2007, 228)
Reference list 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.
In-text citation (Murdoch 2008, 23)
Reference list Murdoch, Iris. 2008. The Sea, the Sea. London: Vintage. https://books.google.nl/books?id=IJ5fL72Vvs8C.
In-text citation (Murdoch 2008, chap. 5.)
Reference list Murdoch, Iris. 2008. The Sea, the Sea. London: Vintage. Kindle.

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 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.

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.

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.

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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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