Chicago Style Footnotes | Citation Format & Examples

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.



Pay attention to the punctuation (e.g., commas, quotation marks) in your footnotes.

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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. The first citation of 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. It’s also acceptable to use “ibid.” instead to refer to the immediately preceding source.

Short note example

2. Woolf, “Modern Fiction,” 11.

The guidelines for use of short and full notes can vary across different fields and institutions. Sometimes you might be required to use a full note for every citation, or to use a short note every time as long as all sources appear in the Chicago style bibliography. Check with your instructor if you’re unsure.

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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 may 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 in parentheses (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.

Missing information

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.

Chicago book citation

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.

Chicago book chapter citation

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.

Chicago journal article citation

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.

Chicago website citation

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).

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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.


Frequently asked questions about Chicago style footnotes

What is the difference between footnotes and endnotes?

Footnotes appear at the bottom of the relevant page. Endnotes appear in a list at the end of the text, just before the reference list or bibliography. Don’t mix footnotes and endnotes in the same document: choose one or the other and use them consistently.

In Chicago notes and bibliography style, you can use either footnotes or endnotes, and citations follow the same format in either case.

In APA and MLA style, footnotes or endnotes are not used for citations, but they can be used to provide additional information.

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.

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.

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.

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.

To automatically generate accurate Chicago references, you can use Scribbr’s free Chicago reference generator.


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Jack Caulfield

Jack is a Brit based in Amsterdam, with an MA in comparative literature. He writes for Scribbr about his specialist topics: grammar, linguistics, citations, and plagiarism. In his spare time, he reads a lot of books.