Quick guide to Chicago style citation

There are two systems within the Chicago citation style: Chicago A is a notes and bibliography system, using footnotes or endnotes, while Chicago B is an author-date system, using in-text citations.

The notes and bibliography style, Chicago A, is used mainly in humanities subjects, such as literature, history and the arts. Sciences and social sciences favor the author-date in-text citation system, or Chicago B.

The style you should use is dependent on the guidelines of your university or field of study.

Chicago style footnotes or endnotes (Chicago A)

In Chicago A, each source is referenced using a superscript number in the text itself, which corresponds to a footnote or endnote citation.

The complete source reference is also included in the bibliography at the very end of the paper.

There are three different formats for citing sources in Chicago A:

  • The first time a source is mentioned, it must be cited in the full citation format.
  • The second time a source is mentioned, you can use a shorter citation.
  • The complete source information must be included in the alphabetized bibliography.

Chicago footnotes example (book format):

Footnote/endnote citation on first mentionCharles Darwin, On The Origin of Species (London: John Murray, 1859), 42–50.
Footnote/endnote citation on subsequent mentionsDarwin, On The Origin of Species, 68–75.
Full source reference in bibliographyDarwin, Charles. On The Origin of Species. London: John Murray, 1859.

Chicago style in-text citations (Chicago B)

Chicago B follows an in-text author-date system, where a parenthetical citation is included with each source in the body of text. These parenthetical citations are similar in format to the footnote or endnote citations used in Chicago A.

For Chicago style in-text citations, you must include the author name, year of publication and page numbers.

If there is no publication date, use “n.d.,” representing “no date.” If you wish to cite an entire chapter rather than simply a page, including “chap. 2” in the parenthetical citation.

Unlike Chicago A, you do not shorten your citations when mentioning a source more than once.

Chicago B in-text citation example (book format):

In-text citation(Darwin 1859, 42–50)
Full source reference in bibliographyDarwin, Charles. 1859. On The Origin of Species. London: John Murray.
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More information on Chicago style citations

The complete Chicago Manual of Style, now in its 17th edition, is available online. You need to be a member to view the complete guide but if you are writing your dissertation in Chicago style, it might be a good idea to become one or just try the 30-day trial and see if it is for you!

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Courtney Gahan

Courtney has a Bachelor in Communication and a Master in Editing and Publishing. She has worked as a freelance writer and editor since 2013, and joined the Scribbr team as an editor in June 2017. She loves helping students and academics all over the world improve their writing (and learning about their research while doing so!).

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