Chicago Style Citation

Chicago Manual of StyleThis quick guide, based on The Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition) explains how to create Chicago style citations. Other well-known citation styles are MLA Citation Style and APA Citation Style.

Chicago Style has two systems for citing sources:

  1. Notes and Bibliography, which works with footnotes or endnotes, often accompanied with a bibliography. This system is mainly used in humanities subjects.
  2. Author-Date References, which works with in-text citations (reporting only the author and publication date). In-text citations are always accompanied by a bibliography. This system is mostly used in sciences and social sciences.

Chicago Style Citation: Notes and Bibliography

Chicago’s first system, Notes and Bibliography, works with footnotes or endnotes that provide citations, but can also contain commentary. The notes are often accompanied by full references in the bibliography.

Footnotes vs. endnotes

Footnotes appear at the bottom of a page, while endnotes appear at the end of a chapter, section or work. Most universities and journals clearly indicate their preference. The citation format is identical; only the location is different.

The notes correspond with superscript numbers in the running text. These numbers are placed at the end of a sentence, after the final punctuation mark, quotation mark or parentheses.

  • Smith states “retaining customers is difficult, especially online.”1

Microsoft Word can automatically link the superscript number and notes. Read more on how to insert footnotes.

Full notes vs. short notes

Footnotes and endnotes can be included as full notes or shortened notes. Short notes help avoid cluttered pages and should be used when:

  1. The notes are accompanied by a bibliography (which already lists the full source)
  2. A note is referenced for a second (or more) time.

Chicago style citation examples

The footnote/endnote citation is different for each source type. It usually contains the author name(s), title (in title case), place of publication, publisher, and date. Each element is separated with a comma and the citation ends with a period.

Navigate through the Chicago citation examples using the tabs below.

This is an example of a full1 and shortened2 footnote containing a website citation.

1. Courtney Gahan, “How to Paraphrase Sources,” Scribbr, April 18, 2018, https://​www.scribbr.com/​citing-sources/​how-to-paraphrase/.
2. Gahan, “How to Paraphrase Sources.”
Full note Author first name last name, “Page title,” Website title, publication date, URL.
Short note Author last name, “Shortened website title.”

Notes: If the author is unknown, use the website name instead (don’t list the website title after the page title). If the publication date is unknown, include the date you accessed the information (e.g accessed on March 12, 2019). Titles longer than four words should be shortened when using a short note.

This is an example of a full3 and shortened4 footnote containing a book citation.

3. Stephen Covey, The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, 3rd ed. (New York: Free Press, 1989), 75–89.
4. Covey, 7 Habits Effective People, 75–7.
Full note Author first name last name, Book title: subtitle, edition. (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), page numbers, URL.
Short note Author last name, Shortened book title, page number(s).

Notes: Edition and page number(s) are optional and should only be included if relevant. The edition is always abbreviated (e.g. 2nd ed. or rev. ed.). Only include the URL for books you consulted online.

This is an example of a full5 and shortened6 footnote containing a book chapter citation.

5. Bob Stewart, “Wag of the Tail: Reflecting on Pet Ownership,” in Enriching Our Lives with Animals, ed. John Jaimeson (Toronto: Petlove Press, 2007), 87.
6. Steward, “Wag of the Tail,” 88
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).
Short note Author last name, “Shortened book chapter title,” page number(s).

Note: Begin the citation with the author of the chapter. The editor who compiled the book is listed after the book title.

This is an example of a full7 and shortened8 footnote containing a journal citation.

7. Hannes Datta, “The Challenge of Retaining Customers Acquired with Free Trials,” Journal of Marketing Research 52, no. 2 (2015): 220, www.jstor.org/stable/43832354.
8. Datta, “Challenge of Retaining Customers,” 220.
Full note Author first name last name, “Article title,” Journal name Volume, Issue number (Year): page number, DOI or URL.
Short note Author last name, “Shortened journal article title,” page number(s).

Note: The page (range) in the notes indicates the page containing the relevant information, not the page range of the whole journal article.

Chicago Style Citation: Author-Date Reference

Chicago’s Author-Date system, most often used in the (social) sciences, works with parenthetical citations in the text. These in-text citations include the author’s last name, publication date and, if relevant, page numbers. The in-text citations are always accompanied by a bibliography.

The in-text citation is placed at the end of the sentence or paragraph that is quoted or paraphrased. However, you may be a little more flexible by integrating the citation in the sentence, as can be seen in the examples below.

  • In a recent study (Datta 2015, 220)
  • Datta (2015, 220) found in a recent study …
  • In recent studies … (Datta 2015, 220; Smith 2011, 58–77).

The in-text citation is the same for each source type and there is also no difference between a first citation and a subsequent citation. Sources with multiple authors are cited slightly differently.

In-text citations can be combined by separating them with a semicolon (see the last example). It is common practice to sort the sources alphabetically (first Datta, then Smith).

Missing data in notes and in-text citations

No publication date

For sources without a publication date or latest revision date, use “n.d.” (no date) instead.

  • (Sinek, n.d.).
  • 1. Simon Sinek, Start with Why (New York: Penguin Books, n.d.), 267–86.

No author/organization as author

If the author(s) of a source is unknown (often the case with internet sources), the organization or association issuing the publication may be listed as the author.

  • (Microsoft 2018, 55–8)
  • 1. University of Chicago Press, The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017), 791.
  • 2. Scribbr, “Detect, Understand and Correct All Plagiarism,” accessed March 12, 2019, https://www.scribbr.com/plagiarism-checker/.

Works explicitly published as “Anonymous” do need to be cited that way e.g. (Anonymous 2016).

No page number

Page numbers must only be included when relevant. If you do want to add a locator to the citation, but your source doesn’t have page numbers, you may also use paragraph, section or chapter numbers, or even section headings if relevant.

  • (Smith 2017, para. 2.15)
  • 1. Simon Sinek, Start with Why (New York: Penguin Books, 2011), chap. 5.
  • (Miller and Johnson 2013, “Methods”)

Multiple authors in notes and in-text citations

2–3 authors

Author names should always be listed in the order in which they appear in the source. The names of two authors are separated with “and”. The names of three authors are separated with a comma between the first two names and “, and” before the last name.

  • (Datta and Smith 2009, 123)
  • (Key, Appleby, and Rosell 2006, 39)
  • 1. Timothy J. Key, Paul N. Appleby, and Magdalena S. Rosell, “Health Effects of Vegetarian and Vegan Diets,” Proceedings of the Nutrition Society 65, no. 1 (2006): 39, https://doi.org/10.1079/PNS2005481.

4 or more authors

Sources with more than three authors are shortened. This is the case for notes, in-text citations and in the running text. Only the first author’s last name is included, followed by et al. (and others). In the bibliography, all names are included.

  • (Johnson et al. 2017)
  • Johnson et al. (2017) found in a recent study …
  • 1. Covey et al.The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People (New York: Free Press, 1989), 75–89.

Editors and translators as authors

In Author-Date in-text citations, editors and translators are treated the same as regular authors; the role (e.g. “ed.” or “trans.”) is not added to the text citation. However, in notes and in the bibliography the role is added.

  • (Egan 2014, 100)
  • 1. Jennifer Egan, ed., The Best American Short Stories, 2015 (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014), 100.

Chicago Style Bibliography

The bibliography, also known as the reference list, is an alphabetically sorted list of all sources cited in the text (either through notes or in-text citations). Sometimes important sources that were consulted, but not cited, are also included. The bibliography is placed on a separate page before the appendices.

A bibliography is required when using Chicago Style Author-Date references. When using Chicago Style Notes, a bibliography is not required, but recommended, as it enables you to use short notes in the body of the text, which saves space and improves readability.

References: Notes vs. Author-Date system

The full reference is almost identical for both the Notes and Author-Date system. The only difference is the location of the publication year, which is placed right after the author when using the Author-Date system and after the publisher when using the Notes system.

The Chicago book citation example below shows the full reference for both systems, with the publication year highlighted.

Author-Date system

  • Covey, Stephen. 1989. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Free Press.

Notes and Bibliography system

  • Covey, Stephen. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Free Press, 1989.

Multiple authors in the bibliography

In the bibliography all authors of a source are included, even if there are more than three authors. The names are separated with a comma and “, and” before the last author.

Note: the Chicago Style citation examples below are based on the Notes and Bibliography system, but can just as easily be used for the Author-Date system by moving the publication year.

Chicago style website citation

Format Author last name, first name. “Page title,” Website name. Publication date. URL.
Bibliography Gahan, Courtney. “How to Paraphrase Sources.” Scribbr. April 18, 2018. https://www.scribbr.com/citing-sources/how-to-paraphrase/.

Notes: If the publication date is unknown, the access date is added instead, e.g. (Accessed June 12, 2017.) If the author is unknown, list the website name or begin the reference with the page title.

Chicago style book citation

Format Author last name, first name. Book title: subtitle. edition. Place of publication: Publisher, Year. URL.
Bibliography Covey, Stephen. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Free Press, 1989.

Notes: Page numbers are not included in the bibliography. If the author has the role of editor or translator, add “, ed(s)” or “, trans.” after the author name(s) e.g. Covey, Stephen, trans. The edition is always abbreviated (e.g. 2nd ed. or rev. ed.). Only include the URL for books you consulted online.

Chapter in a (multivolume) book

Format Author last name, first name. “Chapter title.” in Book title: subtitle, page range. ed. Editor first name last name. Place of publication: Publisher, Year.
Bibliography Stewart, Bob. “Wag of the Tail: Reflecting on Pet Ownership.” in Enriching Our Lives with Animals, 220–90. ed. John Jaimeson. Toronto: Petlove Press, 2007.

Note: Begin the citation with the author of the chapter. The editor who compiled the book is listed after the book title and page range of the cited chapter.

Chicago style journal article citation

Format Author last name, first name. “Article title.” Journal name Volume, Issue number (Publication date): Page range. DOI or URL.
Bibliography Datta, Hannes. “The Challenge of Retaining Customers Acquired with Free Trials.” Journal of Marketing Research 52, no. 52 (April 2015): 217–34. www.jstor.org/stable/43832354.

Notes: The page numbers in the reference refer to the page range of the whole article.

Arrangement of reference entries

Sources that are part of the bibliography are ordered alphabetically by the authors’ last names. For sources without an author the work’s title is used (initial articles like ‘A’ or ‘An’ are ignored).

Multiple works from the same author
If you include multiple works from the same author, only list the author name in the first entry. In subsequent entries you start the source with three em dashes, followed by the work’s title. The work’s title is then used to sort the works between themselves.

  • Covey, Stephen. The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People. New York: Free Press, 1989.
    ———. Principle-Centered Leadership. New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons, 1992.

Note: the 3-em dash is mainly used by publishers. Check the guidelines of your institution to determine if the use of the 3-em dash is required.

Is this article helpful?
Raimo Streefkerk

Raimo has a bachelor's and master's degree and has written several papers and theses. He likes to share his knowledge by writing helpful articles.

2 comments

Zakeeyaw Toney
April 4, 2019 at 12:53 AM

Thank you so much for your thorough and succinct information. After returning to class work, I looked at several sites and yours was the easiest to understand and follow.

Reply

Raimo Streefkerk
Raimo Streefkerk (Scribbr-team)
April 4, 2019 at 12:31 PM

Hi Zakeeyaw,

Thanks a lot for this compliment :-).

Cheers,
Raimo

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