What Is Chicago Citation Style Citations?

Chicago citation style originally comes from the style guide used by the University of Chicago Press, which first started in 1891. Since then, the Chicago citation and Chicago style of formatting documents have become standard throughout the publishing industry and in academia.

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When the University of Chicago Press first developed its standard method of formatting references and documents for publication, it created and distributed a book called The Chicago Manual of Style. The Chicago Manual of Style has therefore been in continuous publication since the 1890s, for more than a hundred years. It is currently in its 17th edition.

If your professor asks you to use Chicago style for your papers and references, it means using the Chicago Manual of Style. However, you do not need to purchase a copy of the Chicago Manual of Style to excel at preparing perfect academic essays and term papers. You can rely on this handy guide instead.

Why Chicago Style Referencing?

The Chicago citation style is used in many different areas of academic inquiry and research, and is also used in non-scholarly publications including popular books, magazines, and newspapers. Therefore, the Chicago citation style might be one of the most important and relevant styles of referencing to learn. You might even need to use Chicago citations well after you graduate.

However, there are some subject areas that rely more on Chicago style than other citation styles, like APA, MLA, or Harvard.

Chicago for History

Whereas APA format is most common in the social sciences, and MLA more common in literature, the Chicago style is most common in history courses. Chicago style is also common in anthropology.

Unlike APA or MLA styles, the Chicago citation style may incorporate footnotes, endnotes, or in-text citations. The choice of whether to use footnotes, endnotes, or in-text citations is up to your instructor or institution.

Chicago vs. Turabian

The Chicago citation style is also called the Turabian citation style. The terms “Chicago citation” and “Turabian citation” can be used interchangeably.

Why? An author named Kate Turabian published one of the premier style guides for the University of Chicago Press. This style guide established the ground rules not just for Chicago citations but also for how to write effective scholarly papers. The book is called A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, and is currently in its 8th edition available from the University of Chicago Press.

Turabian’s A Manual for Writers became so famous and well-regarded that the author’s name has become synonymous for Chicago style.

Bibliography, References, or Works Cited?

Using the Chicago citation style format, you will list all references used in your paper in the Bibliography. You entitle your references sheet not as “References” or “Works Cited,” but “Bibliography.”

Chicago style Bibliography pages are, like almost all other references lists, presented in alphabetical order according to the author’s last name.

When an author’s name is unavailable, you can alphabetize the entry according to the first word in the title of the article.

Footnotes or Endnotes

Although creating footnotes and endnotes can be complicated at first, the good news is that the Chicago citation style for footnotes and endnotes is exactly the same. The only difference between footnotes and endnotes is where you put them in the paper.

Of course, a footnote appears at the foot of each page (at the bottom), whereas an endnote appears at the end of each section of your paper

Chicago In-Text Citations (Author Date)

Sometimes your professor will ask that you create your document using Chicago in-text citations, often referred to as parenthetical citations because they are formatted in the body of the text (LikeThis, 2017). When you use Chicago in-text citations, you will not be using footnotes or endnotes but you will follow the same rules for the Bibliography.

Is Chicago Citation Really That Important?

Yes! The benefits of using Chicago style, or any other style of citation like APA or MLA include:

Professionalism: Chicago citation style is a professional, internationally recognized method of formatting documents and citing your sources. Even if you only spend a few years of your life in university or college, learning Chicago style or using Chicago citations can prepare you to correctly cite your sources and format your documents for any job you do in the future. Also, learning Chicago style helps you to impress upon your professors that you have taken the time to format your papers in the way they prefer.

Consistency: Chicago citation style helps maintain stylistic consistency in your work. Why is consistency important? Imagine if you were reading a book and every line were written in a different font, or in a different language. Consistency helps create a uniform look to your document. With Chicago citations, consistency also means that your reader can quickly glance at each reference and understand where it came from and how to find it. Consistency in Chicago citations also makes your life easier as a student because once you get the hang of it, you will automatically format your entries using the same style, method, and punctuation.

Honesty: Chicago citations prevent you from plagiarizing others’ work inadvertently. If you ever like what another person has to say about a topic you are writing about, all you need to do is give credit where credit is due. This is achieved best through the Chicago citation style. You can quote any author, as long as you credit where that quote came from using Chicago citations and inserting the entry in the Bibliography page. If you paraphrase, summarize, or borrow ideas from someone else, all you have to do is insert a footnote or endnote, or a parenthetical Chicago citation. You cannot be accused of plagiarism if you cite all your sources. Remember: when in doubt, cite it!

Chicago Style Citation Examples (for bibliography page)

The way you create a bibliography entry using Chicago format will depend on the type of material you use.

Basic Elements of Chicago Citation Style

For almost all entries, Chicago citations require you to list the author’s full last name, followed by spelling out the full first name:

Mercure, Farokh.

Jones, Jim.

When there is more than one author, only the first author’s name is inverted to Last Name, First Name. Subsequent authors are written First Name Last Name:

Mercure, Farokh and Jim Jones.

When you have four or more authors, you will use the Latin abbreviation et al., which means “and others.” Et al. is short for “et allia.” Only the word “al.” is abbreviated; the word “et” takes no period. For example:

Mercure, Farokh et al., “An Essay.”

The following guide offers you examples of the most common types of Bibliography entries.

Chicago Style Citing Guide (with examples)


Some of the most commonly cited materials using Chicago citation are articles published in peer-reviewed journals. You may occasionally cite articles published in trade publications or other periodicals.

Articles in a print journal:

Although most academic journals are digitalized, you may need to refer to and cite an article in a printed copy.

When you do cite a printed academic journal article, make sure you include the page range where the article appears in the journal. For example, if your article starts on page 24 and ends on page 31, you would indicate the range 24-31 in the bibliography citation as follows:


Wiener, Jamila. “The Market in Plato’s Republic,” Classical Philology 104 (2009): 440-450.

Article in an online journal:

Scholarly articles appearing in online journals or periodicals use a similar format to the citation for printed articles. The main difference is that a Digital Object Identifier (DOI) number or a URL will be included so the reader can access your source. Also, you will indicate the date you last accessed the online article.


Cosines, George, and Duncan J. Watts. “Origins of Homophily in an Evolving Social Network.” American Journal of Sociology 115 (2009): 405–50. Accessed October 12, 2010. doi:10.1086/599247.

Article in a newspaper or popular magazine:

Because most articles in newspapers and popular magazines do not have DOI numbers, you will be most likely to include the URL and access date in a Chicago citation like this:


Holden, Tamika and Robert Gomez, “Wary Centrists Posing Challenge in Health Care Vote,” New York Times, February 27, 2010, accessed February 28, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/us/politics/28health.html.

Books, Printed Materials

Of course, you will eventually need to refer to a printed or digital copy of a book during your research. The Chicago citation style requires that you spell out the author’s entire first name, just as with the author of a journal article. Titles of books use italics, not quotation marks. Indicate the date of publication at the end of the citation.

Author, or Editor?

When using Chicago style to format entries in a bibliography, pay attention to whether the book you are using has an author or an editor. Usually the publisher will indicate “Editor” on the cover or title page.

One author:


Polan, Michael. The Omnivore’s Dilemma: A Natural History of Four Meals. New York: Penguin, 2012.

Two or three authors:


Ward, Kevin C., and Ken Burnside. The War: An Intimate History, 1941–1945. New York: Knopf, 2007.

Utica, Jane, Yolanda Navidad and Joshua Oakes. The Traumatic Events of the 20th Century. New York: Ballantine, 2013.

For four or more authors:

Chicago style encourages you to list all the authors in the Bibliography, even if you use the abbreviation “et al.” in the corresponding footnotes or endnotes.


Brick, Tony, Jane Goodall, Nancy Drew, and Shamikia Copeland. Rumble on the Street. New York: Alfred Knopf.

Books with an Editor, Translator, or Compiler instead of an author:

Some books will have editors instead of authors, or will be classical works from antiquities that scholars prefer you list by translator name instead of by the original author.


Lahore, Richard trans. The Iliad of Homer. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007.

Editor, translator, or compiler in addition to author:

On the other hand, translated versions of modern literature or historiography will be listed according to the author’s name.


Garcia Marquez, Gabriel. Love in the Time of Cholera. Translated by Eddie Gross. London: Cape, 2011.

Chapter or other part of a book:

If you cite only one chapter of a book, you would only need to list that individual chapter in the bibliography. This is especially true for chapters in books that are compiled or edited, rather than authored by one person.

When you cite a chapter of an edited book, treat it similar to the way you treat an academic journal article by including the entire page range of the chapter in the bibliographic entry.


Kelly, John D. “Seeing Red: Mao Fathoms.” In Anthropology and Global Counterinsurgency, edited by John D. Kerry, Beatrice Jarvis, Sean T. Mitchell, and Jeremy Walton, 67–83. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Preface, foreword, introduction, or similar part of a book:

Prefaces and forewords are written by someone other than the author. Therefore, when citing the preface or foreword, give credit to that individual. Treat the entry as you would a book chapter, by listing the page range too.


Rigger, James. Introduction to Frankenstein; or, The Modern Prometheus, by Mary Wollstonecraft Shelley, xi–xxxvii. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2013.

Chicago Citations for Websites and Digital Materials

Webpage or Website:

How you cite a web page or website using Chicago style depends on the type of website and the way you include the reference in your work. A general reference to website content can often be limited to a cursory mention in the text or in a note (“As of July 19, 2013, the Xerox Corporation listed on its website . . .”).

However, if you cite extensively from a company’s website, or the website belonging to a government agency, you may need to use more formal Chicago citation style.

The following examples are more formal citations for websites, and can be used when needed.

Note that Chicago style for websites does change often. Please refer to the Purdue Owl Guide for up to date information.

Similarly, the URLs (web page addresses) of almost all websites are subject to change. To prevent your reader from following a broken link, be sure to include an access date or list the date that the site was last modified. If possible, look for a “permalink” to the article.


Google. “Google Privacy Policy.” Last modified March 11, 2013. http://www.google.com/intl/en/privacypolicy.html.


McDonald’s Corporation. “McDonald’s Happy Meal Toy Safety Facts.” Accessed July 19, 2013. http://www.mcdonalds.com/corp/about/factsheets.html.

Chicago Citation for Online Articles

Online articles vary in terms of their credibility. Regardless of where your information comes from, you do need to reference it properly using a Chicago citation.

If your online article appears in a newspaper, follow the citation format as follows:


Holden, Tamika and Robert Gomez, “Wary Centrists Posing Challenge in Health Care Vote,” New York Times, February 27, 2010, accessed February 28, 2012, http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/28/us/politics/28health.html.

Blog entry or comment:

Blogs are not considered peer-reviewed academic sources, and are frequently unreliable sources of information, but if you do need to refer to a blog, there are several ways you can do it using a Chicago citation.

Blog entries or comments are often excluded from the actual bibliography page in the Chicago style. Instead you can offer a passing reference to a blog post or a blogger in text.


In a comment posted to The Ratchet Blog on April 3, 2010, a contributor named Pumkinhead1 stated, “I do not like to drink blood.”

Occasionally you may quote or paraphrase from a blogger who has some credibility in his or her field of interest. Or, the blog may be attached to a credible website or organization including a university. Therefore, you may occasionally need a formal Chicago citation when referencing blog content.

The following examples show how you can create more formal versions of Chicago citations for blog posts or blog entries. As with other websites and online material, the date of access is important to note because of the tendency for URL links to break. When an access date is included, add it before the URL.


Jack, April 3, 2010, “Double Exports in Five Years?,” The Ratchet Blog, December 1, 2010, http://uchicagolaw.typepad.com/ratchet/2010/02/double-exports-in-five-years-.html

On rare occasions you may want to cite from the comment section of a blog. When you do so, indicate that your reference or quote comes from the comment section, as follows:


Jack, April 3, 2010 (7:03 p.m.), comment on Richard Bowles, “Double Exports in Five Years?,” The Ratchet Blog, December 1, 2010, http://uchicagolaw.typepad.com/ratchet/2010/02/double-exports-in-five-years-.html.

E-mail or text message

Personal communications with sources are often digitalized materials, as opposed to in-person communications. When you have interviewed someone via email or text message, be sure to give credit to that person’s ideas or, when necessary, quote them exactly.

When you are simply referring to a communication in email or text message, you may be able to omit the Chicago citation from the bibliography page. In these situations, you can simply refer to the material in text as if it were a passing reference.


In a text message to the author on March 1, 2011, John Doe revealed that the children did not have enough to eat.

However, some types of email or text message communications may be integral to your research. When relying heavily on what the source of your information said, use a more formal Chicago citation both in-text and in the Bibliography page.


John Doe, e-mail message to author, May 31, 2011.

Item in a commercial database

Referencing materials you find in private, academic, or commercial databases using a Chicago citation is simple: use the format required for the type of citation and then indicate the name of the database and reference number afterwards.

For academic, scholarly, and peer-reviewed articles retrieved from a commercial database, you would follow the same rules as for a printed version of the same but with the addition of the database entry afterwards. If possible, also include the DOI.


Choi, Mahwah. “Contesting Imaginaries in Death Rituals during the Northern Song Dynasty.” PhD diss., University of Chicago, 2011. ProQuest (AAT 3300426).

Book published electronically

Textbooks, scholarly publications, and fiction are increasingly becoming available in digital formats including Kindle.

Some digital books or ebooks have a standard URL, as they are available for download in a standard format readable by most computers, such as PDF.

Other digital books come in a proprietary format and can only be read using special software or hardware like the Kindle.

A citation style for a digital book will indicate to your reader how you accessed the book, and what format it was in.

A Chicago citation for a textbook will be similar to any other book, but remember to pay attention to whether the book has author(s) or editor(s).

Example of PDF format e-book:

Thrall, Grant Ian. Land Use and Urban Form. New York: Methuen, 1987. http://www.rri.wvu.edu/WebBook/Thrallbook/Land%20Use%20and%20Urban%20Form.pdf

Examples of e-book published to a website:

Prelock, Patricia A., Tiffany Hutchins, and Frances P. Glascoe. Speech-Language Impairment: How To Identify The Most Common And Least Diagnosed Disability Of Childhood. Ebook. 10th ed. Medscape J Med, 2008. http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC2491683/.

Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, eds., The Founders’ Constitution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007), accessed July 19, 2013, http://press-pubs.uchicago.edu/founders/.

Example of a Kindle edition of a book:

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (New York: Penguin Classics, 2010), Kindle edition.

If a book is available in more than one format, cite the version you consulted – such as print or web. For books consulted online, list a URL and include an access date only if one is required by your publisher or discipline. If no fixed page numbers are available, you can include a section title or a chapter or other number.

Chicago Citation YouTube Video

When citing a YouTube video or other multimedia content, you try to indicate the author/producer of the video. If there is no author but only the username of the person who uploaded the video, use that instead. Also include the date the video was posted and of course, the URL:


GEICO Insurance. “GEICO Hump Day Camel Commercial – Happier than a Camel on Wednesday”. Filmed [May 2013]. YouTube video, 00:30. Posted [May 2013]. http://youtu.be/kWBhP0EQ1lA.

Chicago Style In-Text Citations

Although not as common as footnotes or endnotes in Chicago style, Chicago in-text citations are a simpler and more straightforward method of citing your sources.

The basic elements of a Chicago in-text citation are (Author, Date) or (Author, Date, Page Number), using the page number only when quoting.


During the turbulent 1960s, science fiction programs on television reflected the public’s attitudes toward the older generation (Hodgkin 2003, 176).

Hodgkin (2003, 176) discussed how, during the turbulent 1960s, science fiction programs on television reflected the public’s attitudes toward the older generation.

In a 2003 article, Hodgkin (176) discussed how, during the turbulent 1960s, science fiction programs on television reflected the public’s attitudes toward the older generation.

Two authors:

(Kirby and Spock 2013, 47)

Three authors:

(Kirby, Spock, and McCoy 2013, 47)

Four or more authors:

(Kirby et al. 2013, 47)
Note: Be sure to include all of the authors in the reference list.

Corporate author:

(NAACP 2011, 47)
Note: It is okay to create an abbreviation for long names.

No author:

(“Evening Glory” 2005, 47)
Note:  Use the first few words to shorten the title, excluding initial articles. Place the title in italics or quotation marks (or neither) the same way that you would in the reference list.

No page numbers:

(Copper 2011, para. 2.16)
(“Triumphed” 2011, under “1990s Series”)


Chicago style formatting for academic papers is becoming increasingly common in specific disciplines like history and anthropology. Although not a universal documentation format, the Chicago style is one of the oldest and most established method of citing sources.

Chicago citations are easy to learn, even though the process of formatting footnotes and endnotes might seem tricky at first. With the help of a writing tutor, you can perfect your Chicago format to create polished academic papers.