Citing sources with Chicago style footnotes
The notes and bibliography style is one of two citation options provided by the Chicago Manual of Style. Each time a source is quoted or paraphrased, a superscript number is placed in the text, which corresponds to a footnote or endnote containing details of the source.
Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page, while endnotes appear on a separate page at the end of the text.
Full notes and short notes
There are two types of footnote in Chicago style: full notes and short notes.
Full notes contain the full publication details of the source. They are only used in texts without a bibliography. If you do not include a bibliography, the first citation for each source should be a full note.
Full note example
1. Virginia Woolf, “Modern Fiction,” in Selected Essays, ed. David Bradshaw (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2008), 11.
Short notes contain only the author’s last name, the title (shortened if longer than four words), and the page number (if relevant). They are used for all subsequent citations of the same source.
If you include a bibliography, short notes are used for every citation.
Short note example
2. Woolf, “Modern Fiction”, 11.
Chicago recommends including a bibliography in most cases, which means you’ll usually only need short notes.
However, a bibliography is not mandatory in Chicago style. For example, a short essays with few sources may not include one. If you aren’t including a bibliography, remember to use a full note for the first reference to each source.
Placement of footnotes
Footnotes should be used whenever a source is quoted or paraphrased in the text. They appear at the bottom of the relevant page, corresponding to reference numbers in the text. You can easily insert footnotes in Microsoft Word.
The reference number appears in superscript at the end of the clause or sentence it refers to. It is placed after any punctuation except a dash:
Johnson argues that “the data is unconvincing.”1
Johnson argues that “the data is unconvincing”1—but Smith contends that…
Notes should be numbered consecutively, starting from 1, across the whole text. Your first citation is marked with a 1, your second with a 2, and so on. The numbering does not restart with a new page or section (although in a book-length text it should restart with each new chapter).
Content of Chicago footnotes
The footnote contains the number of the citation followed by a period and then the citation itself. The citation always includes the author’s name and the title of the text, and it always ends with a period. Full notes also include all the relevant publication information (which varies by source type).
If you quote a source or refer to a specific passage, include a page number or range. However, if the source doesn’t have page numbers, or if you’re referring to the text as a whole, you can omit the page number.
In short notes, titles of more than four words are shortened. Shorten them in a way that retains the keyword(s) so that the text is still easily recognizable for the reader:
1. Mary Shelley, Frankenstein; or, the Modern Prometheus, ed. M.K. Joseph (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998), 91.
2. Shelley, Frankenstein, 91.
Combining multiple citations
Do not place multiple footnotes at the same point in your text (e.g. 1, 2, 3). If you need to cite multiple sources in one sentence, you can combine the citations into one footnote, separated by semicolons:
1. Hulme, “Romanticism and Classicism”; Eliot, “The Waste Land”; Woolf, “Modern Fiction,” 11.
Sources with multiple authors
Footnotes for sources with two or three authors should include all the authors’ names. When there are four or more authors, add “et al.” (Latin for “and others”) after the first author’s name.
|Full note||Short note|
|1 author||Virginia Woolf||Woolf|
|2 authors||Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari||Deleuze and Guattari|
|3 authors||Anne Armstrong, Marianne Krasny, and Jonathon Schuldt||Armstrong, Krasny, and Schuldt|
|4+ authors||Anna Tsing et al.||Tsing et al.|
You sometimes won’t have all the information required for your citation. You might be missing page numbers, the author’s name, or the publication date.
If one of your sources (e.g. a website) has no page numbers, but you still think it’s important to cite a specific part of the text, other locators like headings, chapters or paragraphs can be used. Abbreviate words like “paragraph” to “par.” and “chapter” to “chap.”, and put headings in quotation marks:
1. Johnson, “Literature Review,” chap. 2.1.
2. Smith, “Thematic Analysis,” under “Methodology.”
If the source lacks a stated publication date, the abbreviation “n.d.” (no date) should replace the year in a full note:
1. Smith, Data Analysis (New York: Norton, n.d.), 293.
If a text doesn’t list its author’s name, the organization that published it can be treated as the author in your citation:
1. Scribbr, “Chicago Style Citation.”
If you use a website name as an author, you may end up repeating the same information twice in one citation. Omit the website name from its usual place if you’ve already listed it in place of the author.
Footnote examples for different source types
Short notes usually look similar regardless of source type – author, title, page number. However, the information included in full notes varies according to the source you’re citing. Below are examples for several common source types, showing how the footnote should look in Chicago format.
Italicize the book title. If the book states an edition (other than the first), include this and abbreviate it (e.g. 2nd ed., rev. ed.). Add the URL if you consulted the book online instead of in a physical copy.
Sometimes you’ll cite from one chapter in a book containing texts by multiple authors – for example, a compilation of essays. In this case, you’ll want to cite the relevant chapter rather than the whole book.
The chapter title should be enclosed in quotation marks, while the book title should be italicized. The short note only contains the chapter title.
The author is the one who wrote the specific chapter you’re citing. The editor of the whole book is listed toward the end of the footnote (with the abbreviation “ed.”), and left out of the short note.
The article title should be enclosed in quotation marks, while the journal name should be italicized. Volume and issue numbers identify which edition of the journal the source appears in.
A DOI is a digital object identifier. This is generally more reliable than the URL when linking to online journal content.
The page title should be enclosed in quotation marks. Italicization is not used for website names.
If the publication date is unknown, you can instead list the date when you accessed the page at the end of the citation (e.g. accessed on September 10, 2019).
Footnotes vs endnotes
All of the above information also applies to endnotes. Endnotes are less commonly used than footnotes, but they’re a perfectly valid option.
Footnotes appear at the bottom of the page they refer to.
- Footnotes allow the reader to immediately check your citations as they read…
- …but if you have a lot of footnotes, they can be distracting and take up space on the page.
Endnotes appear in their own section at the end of the text, before the bibliography.
- Endnotes take up less space in the body of your text and reduce distraction…
- …but they are less accessible, as the reader has to flip to the end to check each note.
Endnote citations look exactly the same as those in footnotes. Unless you’ve been told which one to use, choose whichever you prefer. Just use one or the other consistently.
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. Page numbers should be included in your Chicago in-text citations when: When you’re referring to the overall argument or general content of a source, it’s unnecessary to include page numbers. When a source has four or more authors, your in-text citation or footnote should give only the first author’s name followed by “et al.” (Latin for “and others”). This makes your citations more concise. In your bibliography or reference list, when a source has more than 10 authors, list the first seven followed by “et al.”
Frequently asked questions about Chicago style footnotes
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.
Page numbers should be included in your Chicago in-text citations when:
When you’re referring to the overall argument or general content of a source, it’s unnecessary to include page numbers.
When a source has four or more authors, your in-text citation or footnote should give only the first author’s name followed by “et al.” (Latin for “and others”). This makes your citations more concise.
In your bibliography or reference list, when a source has more than 10 authors, list the first seven followed by “et al.”