Skip to Main Content

Chicago Style: Chicago

  • URL:

Helpful Resources

What is Chicago Style?

When teachers ask you to write in "Chicago Style", they are referring to the editorial style that most subjects within Arts and Humanities have adopted to present written material in the field.

Editorial style is a set of rules or guidelines that a publisher observes to ensure clear and consistent presentation of written material. Editorial style concerns uniform use of such elements as:

  • punctuation and abbreviations
  • construction of tables
  • selection of headings
  • citation of references
  • presentation of statistics
  • as well as many other elements that are a part of every manuscript

The purpose of documentation is to:

  • Identify (cite) other people’s ideas and information used within your essay or term paper.
  • Indicate the authors or sources of these in a Bibliography at the end of your paper.
  • Identify the sources you researched to support your argument.
  • Provide all information necessary to enable your readers to find the sources you used.

The 17th edition of The Chicago Manual of Style (2017) recognizes two basic styles of citation: Notes-Bibliography and Author-Date. Notes-Bibliography is the standard in the humanities; this guide is only for the Notes and Bibliography system.

General Chicago Guidelines (from Purdue OWL)

  • Text should be consistently double-spaced, except for block quotations, notes, bibliography entries, table titles, and figure captions. 
  • For block quotations, which are also called extracts: 
  • A prose quotation of five or more lines, or more than 100 words, should be blocked. 
  • CMOS recommends blocking two or more lines of poetry. 
  • A blocked quotation does not get enclosed in quotation marks.
  • A blocked quotation must always begin a new line. 
  • Blocked quotations should be indented with the word processor's indention tool. 
  • Page numbers begin in the header of the first page of text with Arabic number 1. 
  • Subheadings should be used for longer papers. 
  • CMOS recommends you devise your own format but use consistency as your guide. 

Commonly Used Terms

Citing: The process of acknowledging the sources of your information and ideas.

DOI (doi): Some electronic content, such as online journal articles, is assigned a unique number called a Digital Object Identifier (DOI or doi). Items can be tracked down online using their doi.

In-Text Citation: A brief note at the point where information is used from a source to indicate where the information came from. An in-text citation should always match more detailed information that is available in the Reference List.

Paraphrasing: Taking information that you have read and putting it into your own words.

Plagiarism: Taking, using, and passing off as your own, the ideas or words of another.

Quoting: The copying of words of text originally published elsewhere. Direct quotations generally appear in quotation marks and end with a citation.

Reference: Details about one cited source.

Reference List: Contains details on ALL the sources cited in a text or essay, and supports your research and/or premise.

Retrieval Date: Used for websites where content is likely to change over time (e.g. Wikis), the retrieval date refers to the date you last visited the website.

Bibliography: Is a list of documents consulted but not necessarily referred to in a specific essay or assignment. A bibliography can also be a comprehensive list of works on a specific subject, for example, The Bibliography of Bioethics. When researching a topic it is a good idea to prepare a bibliography for your own use, even if in your essay you need to cite only some of these items in a works cited or references list.

Descriptive elements: Are the necessary parts of a reference. A few examples of these elements are: author, title, edition, date of publication, internet address, etc.

Electronic: Is a generic term used to describe documents available from the internet or from databases or published in a digitized format.

Introduction to Chicago 17th ed



All citations should be double spaced and have a hanging indent.

A "hanging indent" means that each subsequent line after the first line of your citation should be indented by 0.5 inches.


All citations should use first line indent, where the first line of the footnote should be indented by 0.5 inches; all subsequent lines are not indented.

Footnotes should be the same font size and style as the rest of your paper.


If there is no known author, start the citation with the title of the article instead.

Access Date

Chicago style does not recommend including access dates in the citation, unless no date of publication for the source may be located.

Park University Library
8700 NW River Park Drive, Box 61 - Parkville, MO - 64152
Phone: (816) 584-6285
Toll-free: (800) 270-4347