The Chicago format is one of the most widely used style manuals. It contains comprehensive instructions for formatting, referencing, and citing works that ought to be published. In this article, the expert team from EssayPro will share exhaustive information on the Chicago Manual of Style with a detailed guide on how to format a Chicago style paper. Keep reading to learn how to write in Chicago/Turabian style with ease.

What is Chicago Style

The Chicago Manual of Style is a compilation of formatting, referencing, and citing rules applied to works written in American English (mostly) and published in historical or social sciences journals. The manual was created by the University of Chicago Press and the first version was released in 1906. Currently, at the time of this writing, it is on its 17th edition.

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The guidelines for this style of formatting were shaped for professionals in social sciences who publish their articles in journals, magazines, etc. An alternative to Chicago style that is geared more for students and researchers is Turabian format. It consists of slightly different requirements for citing and formatting academic papers. This style also applies to papers written in social sciences—in particular: History, Business, Fine Art, etc.

In contrast to many other formats, the Chicago Manual of Style suggests that authors use two different systems for citing sources: the Notes-Bibliography System and the Author-Date System.

The Notes-Bibliography method requires placing numbered footnotes in the text with shortened versions of citations located at the bottom of the page. The full citations are then gathered on a separate Bibliography page at the end of the document. This method of documenting sources is the most preferred one for documents in the humanities disciplines.

The second method, the Author-Date System, requires writers to include parenthetical citations in the text after a quotation or any other borrowed information. Citations in parentheses should include the last name of the original source’s author, the year when it was published, and the page where the information you’ve used can be found in the source. Every citation needs to have a relevant entry on a References page at the end of the paper. Unlike the Notes-Bibliography method, the Author-Date System is applied to papers in sciences and social sciences.

As it was said, the Chicago format is closely interlinked with another style manual called Turabian. It is a referencing and citing system shaped on the basis of the Chicago style. This format was named after its author — Kate Turabian, from the University of Chicago. This format is most often used for writing papers in social sciences, for example, Economics.

How Are Chicago and Turabian Styles Different?

In a nutshell, Kate Turabian adapted the Chicago style for students and researchers. Thus, the main difference is that the Turabian style is simpler, shorter, and contains fewer requirements. In particular, it doesn’t contain any instructions on publishing since, unlike the Chicago style which is created for professionals who publish their works, the Turabian style was created to guide students while writing papers and essays. Still, most of the guidelines applicable to the Chicago paper format would be the same for a Turabian style paper, so, with the help of this article, you can write in both styles.

What are the main elements of a Chicago format paper? Both the Chicago and Turabian styles imply that the author should divide his document into three parts: Title Page (cover page), Main Body, and Bibliography.

General Rules

Here is a list of general guidelines applicable to every Chicago style essay:

  • Font: Clear and easy to read, the preferred fonts are Times New Roman or Courier
  • Font Size: Generally not less than 10pt, but preferably 12pt
  • Space: Doubled everywhere except within block quotes, table titles, notes, figure captions, and bibliography or References entries
  • Spaces Between Paragraphs: None
  • Margins: Not less than 1”
  • Chicago Style Page Numbers: Placed at the top right corner of each page excluding the title page, so the first page of the main body should be numbered at 1
  • Footnotes: Should be assigned on quoted or paraphrased passages if you use the Notes-Bibliography method.

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Chicago Style Cover Page

The title page, or cover page, is the main introduction to your work, and spacing is its crucial aspect. You should ask your teacher for specific details on how to structure your title page, but the general guidelines on how to structure a Chicago cover page are:

  • The title of the paper or article should be placed one third below the top of the page and centered.
  • The document’s title should be followed by the author’s name, class information, and the date (all placed several lines below the title).
  • All double-spaced.
  • If you need to include a subtitle as well, end the title line with a colon and type the subtitle on the following line.

Note: While all documents written in the Chicago style should have a title page, this rule may not always apply to papers written in Turabian style. Academic papers that follow this style guide may either include a title page or provide the document’s title on the first page, followed by the main body. However, if your professor demands including a cover page, the rules mentioned above apply as well.

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Chicago Style in Text Citation

Main Body

The main body of the Chicago style paper is the biggest part of the paper and it’s where authors share their main ideas and information on a specific topic. The Chicago Manual of Style suggests a list of general requirements applicable to the main body of the text:

  • Titles of sources placed within the paper, notes, and bibliography should follow headline-style capitalization.
  • Titles placed within the paper, notes, and bibliography can be italicized or taken in quotation marks based on the type of work they refer to:
  • ~ Titles of larger works, including books and periodicals – have to be italicized.
  • ~ Titles of shorter works, including chapters and articles – should be put in quotation marks.
  • ~ Titles of most poems – have to be put in double quotation marks.
  • ~ Titles of longer poems – should be italicized.
  • ~ Titles of plays – should be italicized.
  • ~ In any other case – be sure to take a minimalist approach to capitalization. Do not overuse italics or quotation marks for no reason. Also, use lowercase when there is no need for uppercase.
  • When quoting something, be sure to create block quotes when necessary. For prose, it is recommended to block a quote when it is longer than five lines. Read more details about block quotes further on in this article.

Chicago Style Heading

The Chicago Manual of Style does not provide authors with any strict rules regarding the format of headings and subheadings in the document. However, it does suggest a few recommendations:

  • Place all subheadings on a new line.
  • Follow a headline-capitalization style.
  • Keep up consistency and parallel structure in all headings and subheadings.
  • Authors may use different font sizes to distinguish subheadings.
  • It is recommended not to end subheadings with periods.
  • There should be a maximum of three levels of hierarchy.
  • All levels should be consistent and clear.
  • To distinguish levels of hierarchy, authors may use different fonts, bold or italics, or different placements on the page (preferably either flush left or centered).

Unlike the Chicago Manual of Style, Turabian provides more recommendations for formatting different levels of headings and subheadings. Following this system is not mandatory, but recommended. In the table below, you can find a comprehensive list of formatting recommendations for each of the three heading levels:

Level of HierarchySuggested Format
1Headline-style capitalization, bold or italic, centered
2Headline-style capitalization, regular, centered
3Headline-style capitalization, bold or italic, flush left

Here are some examples of different level headings:

Level 1Postmodern Literature

Level 2 The Key Directions and Techniques

Level 3Historiographic Metafiction

Chicago Style in-Text Citation

The way you will be formatting each Chicago style citation will depend on the system you are following. As was already mentioned, for the Notes-Bibliography System, you will need to put numbered footnotes. We will cover that later in our article.

As for the Author-Date System citations, they should follow these rules:

  • The last name of the author, date of publication, and the page number should all be put in parentheses.
  • No punctuation marks are allowed between the author’s last name and the publication date.
  • No abbreviations are allowed.
  • Separate the date of publication and the page number with a comma.
  • When there is no author, you should use a shortened title of the source in your in-text citation.
  • If citing the same pages of the source numerously, cite the source in full after the last reference.

Note: If you are using a Notes-Bibliography method, then a chicago in-text citation is put in parentheses only when it follows direct quotes. If you are paraphrasing information, you have to use footnotes instead.

An example of an in-text Chicago Manual of Style citation: “That was how the General learned what the whole city already knew: not one but several assassination plots against him were brewing, and his last supporters were in the house to try to thwart them.” (García Márquez 1990, 18)

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