Chicago Style Basics

Chicago is another citation style, often used in the humanities, but most commonly in History discliplines. Chicago provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through footnote or endnote citation, as well as an outlet for commenting on those cited sources. Here are some basics to get you more familiar.


  1. Create your Bibliography page before you start writing your essay. Include all the sources you read, not just the ones you actually reference in the essay.
    • Determine what type of source you are looking at. This is the hardest and most important part of citation.  For example, there are significant differences between online and database sources.
    • Use a style manual or style handbook to create the bibliography entries.  No one memorizes the rules, especially since they are updated every few years to keep up with new technology.  Instead, learn how to use the style manual.
    • Organize your list alphabetically.  If you have two authors with the same last name, look at their first names.  If you have two sources by the same author, look at the title, and so on.
    • Format the list using hanging indents.  This indent style requires that the first line of the citation is left-aligned, but any additional lines are indented by ½ inch.  
  2. If you are working with a large number of sources, consider making an Annotated Bibliography.  
  3. Format your essay using Chicago document style.  
  4. Create in-text citations (footnotes OR endnotes).
    • The first time you reference any source, either with a direct quote or a paraphrase, you should use a signal phrase along with the footnote/endnote to indicate the credibility of the source.  
    • For example, you might write: Respected writer Shelby Foote, while agreeing that the report was “largely” fabricated, points out that the “casualty figures indicate …”7
    • After the first use of a source, you may choose between either signal phrases with footnotes/endnotes or footnotes/endnotes-only for your in-text citations.  
    • The first time you use a source, the footnote/endnote must include the author’s name, title, publication information, and page number.  
      • Peter Burchard, One Gallant Rush: Robert Gould Shaw and His Brave Black Regiment (New York: St. Martin’s, 1965), 85.
    • Any subsequent references can be in short form, with only author’s name, shortened title, and page number.  
      • Burchard, One Gallant Rush, 31.
    • If you reference a single work twice in a row, you may use the latin term Ibid. and the page number for the second note.  
      • Jack Hurst, Nathan Bedford Forrest: A Biography (New York: Knopf, 1993), 8.
      • Ibid., 174.


TypeBibliographyFootnote or Endnote
Book (Print)

Woods, Mary N. Beyond the Architect’s Eye: Photographs and the American Built Environment. Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009.

1. Mary N. Woods, Beyond the Architect’s Eye: Photographs and the American Built Environment (Philadelphia: University of Pennsylvania Press, 2009).
Tolstoy, Leo. War and Peace. Translated by Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky. New York: Knopf, 2007. Kindle edition.

3. Leo Tolstoy, War and Peace, trans. Richard Pevear and Larissa Volokhonsky (New York: Knopf, 2007), Kindle edition, vol. 1, pt. 1, chap. 3.


Hurston, Zora Neale. “From Dust Tracks on a Road.” In The Norton Book of American Autobiography, edited by Jay Parini, 333-43. New York: Norton, 1999.

13. Zora Neale Hurston, “From Dust Tracks on a Road,” in The Norton Book of American Autobiography, ed. Jay Parini (New York: Norton, 1999), 336.

Introduction, Preface, Afterword
DeMille, Nelson. Foreword to Flag: An American Biography, by Marc Leepson, xi-xiv. New York: Thomas Dunne, 2005.

14. Nelson DeMille, foreword to Flag: An American Biography, by Marc Leepson (New York: Thomas Dunne, 2005), xii.

Journal (Database)

Leung, Constant. “Language and Content in Bilingual Education.” Linguistics and Education 16, no. 2 (2005): 238-52. doi:10.1016/j.linged.2006.01.004.

24. Constant Leung, “Language and Content in Bilingual Education,” Linguistics and Education 16, no. 2 (2005): 239, doi:10.1016/j.linged.2006.01.004.

Magazine (Online)

Mieszkowski, Katharine. “A Deluge Waiting to Happen.” Salon, July 3, 2008.

26. Katharine Mieszkowski, “A Deluge Waiting to Happen,” Salon, July 3, 2008,

Magazine (Database)

“Facing Facts in Afghanistan.” National Review, November 2, 2009, 14. Expanded Academic ASAP (A209905060).

27. Facing Facts in Afghanistan,” National Review, November 2, 2009, 14, Expanded Academic ASAP (A209905060).

Newspaper (Online)

McManus, Doyle. “The Candor War.” Chicago Tribune, July 29, 2010.

29. Doyle McManus, “The Candor War,” Chicago Tribune, July 29, 2010,

Newspaper (Database)

Levy, Clifford J. “In Kyrgyzstan, Failure to Act Adds to Crisis.” New York Times, June 18, 2010. General OneFile (A229196045).

30.Clifford J. Levy, “In Kyrgyzstan, Failure to Act Adds to Crisis,” New York Times, June 18, 2010, General OneFile (A229196045).

Work of Art

Siskind, Aaron. Untitled (The Most Crowded Block). Gelatin silver print, 1939. Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO.

48. Aaron Siskind, Untitled (The Most Crowded Block), gelatin silver print, 1939, Kemper Museum of Contemporary Art, Kansas City, MO.

Govt. Document

U.S. Department of State. Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1943. Washington, DC: GPO, 1965.

40. U.S. Department of State, Foreign Relations of the United States: Diplomatic Papers, 1943 (Washington, DC: GPO, 1965), 562.

Kaylan | 2019

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