Research for Essay Writing in English

This libguide was created to provide information resources and tools for the students of the Essay Writing course ENG 1100

Chicago Manual of Style: A Very Brief Introduction

Your professor has asked you to use Chicago Manual of Style (They probably called it ‘Chicago’ for short). You panic! You’ve heard of MLA and APA, but Chicago? This is new.

Take a breath and relax, Chicago is common in the humanities, and is especially used for articles that have been published in humanities journals. If you learn Chicago as a student, you will be prepared for publishing your first peer-reviewed article!

Please note that the information comes directly from the Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition, 2017. Information here cannot substitute for using the guide and is not comprehensive. Please consult the guide to learn Chicago style.


Unlike some other styles, Chicago has two versions. Make sure you know which one your professor wants you to use.

The first is called Notes and bibliography. The manual states that “In this system, sources are cited in numbered footnotes or endnotes. Each note corresponds to a raised (superscript) number in the text. Sources are also usually listed in a separate bibliography.” (1)

The second is author-date. The manual states that this style is “more common in the sciences and social sciences. In this system, sources are briefly cited in the text, usually in parentheses, by author’s last name and year of publication. Each in-text citation matches up with an entry in a reference list, where full bibliographic information is provided.” (2)

Notes and bibliography Author-Date

Preferred style for the humanities.

Citations appear as footnotes or endnotes (this
guide focuses on footnotes).

The bibliography appears at the end of the text.

Preferred style for social sciences and sciences.

Sources are cited in text, e.g. (Smith 2012, 27)

The bibliography appears at the end of the text

This page only includes examples in the Notes and bibliography format.

1 University of Chicago, “Notes and Bibliography: Sample Citations,” in The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago, 2017),

2 University of Chicago, “Notes and Bibliography: Sample Citations.”

Citation & Bibliography

As with most citation styles, there are two components to Chicago: 1) citation and 2) bibliography. A citation is when you let your reader know that you are referring to someone else’s ideas, words, or a combination thereof. A citation appears in your text where the reader can see it, and in Chicago, the citation marker is a small superscript number. The purpose of the citation is to let readers know exactly where you got the information or ideas from. Although the superscript number appears in your text (in Microsoft Word, select “References” and then “Insert footnote” to create a footnote), the actual citation appears at the bottom of the page.

Examples of footnotes:

Page in a book Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015), 12. 
Page in an article Susan Satterfield, “Livy and the Pax Deum,” Classical Philology 111, no. 2 (April 2016): 170.

The guide contains examples for many different types of sources.

Shortened citations

One difference between Chicago and other styles is that after you cite one source once in a footnote, you don’t have to include all the information every time you cite the same source afterward. For example, using the above examples, the subsequent and shortened citations to the same works would appear as:

Grazer and Fishman, Curious Mind, 37.

Satterfield, “Livy,” 172–73.

Shortening citations makes footnotes easier to read and leaves more room for the work itself. To create a shortened citation, include the authors’ last names (or last name if it is a single author), a couple of identifying words in the title, followed by the page number.


A bibliography is a list of works that were used in the writing of the text. Begin the bibliography after the main body of the text, on the next page. The purpose of the bibliography is to let readers know where to find the works you cited. In Chicago, the bibliography is single-spaced, and second lines are indented.

Bibliography entries for the works above would appear as:

Grazer, Brian, and Charles Fishman. A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015. (please insert indentation on this line)

Satterfield, Susan. “Livy and the Pax Deum.” Classical Philology 111, no. 2 (April 2016): 165–76.

In the bibliography, the first author’s last name appears before their first name, while all other authors’ names appear in first-name, last-name order. The punctuation becomes a period instead of a comma, except in front of the date, and while the title is italicized, the publication information is no longer in parentheses. Page numbers are only included when referring to a discreet intellectual work, such as a chapter of a book (which might be by a different author than the other chapters), or an article that appears in a journal volume containing articles by multiple authors because page numbers are essential to capturing the extent of one intellectual work. There are many more examples of how to cite in the Chicago guide, which we encourage you to consult often.

Good luck with Chicago!


If you have questions, or if you run into problems that the guide does not address, e-mail Catherine Lachaîne at 


This online guide is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International license. This page is attributed to Jennifer Dekker.