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Quick Guide on Chicago Manual of Style

You already know several most common styles of essay formatting. Now we are going to consider one of them in more detail. Recently, the sixteenth edition of Chicago style format was released, and we suggest studying it patiently, since if you perfectly know MLA format, it doesn’t mean that you’ll easily cope with Chicago. Although it’s quite popular, many writers have questions about the use of this style, so we decided to write this quick guide.


The latest edition was presented in 2010 and it hasn’t changed since then. Given that the 17th edition wasn’t released yet, we can be guided by the 16th edition of the Manual of Style.

Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) notes that such a style can be used for a wide range of topics: manuscript preparations, publications, grammar specifications, and so on. Since it’s considered a Bible of editing by most editors, we think that every writer must read it. The general format includes two particular systems: Author-Date, and Notes and Bibliography. These systems are somewhat similar, but each one of them is used in different fields. For example, Notes-Bibliography fits literary works, arts, and history, while Author-Date was created for sciences and social papers.

Notes and Bibliography (NB)

The basics of this system won’t be hard to learn in case you are familiar enough with humanities, and history in particular. It regulates the use of references in papers, which can be written either right in the text, or on a separate page.

Footnotes and Endnotes

Chicago style pays particular attention to notes, which are also called footnotes. Every time you include references in your work, you have to write footnotes. This rule applies not only to direct quotes, but also to paraphrases as well. Write footnotes at the end of every page, and endnotes at the end of a chapter. Note that types of used sources don’t matter.

Citation Format

All your notes must meet certain requirements. Relevant information about cited authors is necessary:

  • First name (or full name) of the author
  • Source title
  • Features of a publication

If you include several quotes from a single source, you have to set page numbers, the brief version of the title, as well as the last name of the writer. Here is an example:

One Author

  1. James Smith, The Title of The Book (City: Publisher, 2003), 70-81.
  2. Smith, The Title, 5.

Smith, James. The Title of the Book. City: Publisher, 2003.

Several Authors

  1. James Smith and John Brown, The Title of the Book (City: Publisher, 2003), 56.
  2. Smith and Brown, The Title, 56-67.

Smith, James, and John Brown. The Title of the Book, City: Publisher, 2003.

Sometimes you have to cite a source many times. In this case, you don’t need to write these short references every time, just use a Latin abbreviation Ibid. The meaning of this abbreviation is “in the same place.” Thus, just write it along with page numbers. Every footnote or endnote must start with a number, followed by period and space.

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You have a reference list for bibliographies. It’s a specific page, where all used websites, books, articles, and magazines are written in the alphabetical order. This page is entitled “Bibliography”, and it ends your paper. In some cases, you may write index after it. Don’t forget to list all used sources on this page.

There are various ways to write references, however, all your sources must be set alphabetically. Always start each source with the last name of the author. In case the source doesn’t have a particular author, you can start with a first letter of the title, or even with a keyword.


  • Common elements. Don’t forget to write all components of your reference list in alphabetical order. Always include author’s name, release features, and the title.
  • Author’s name. The last name is most important. Separate last and first names with a comma.
  • Titles. All titles must be written in italics, in case you’re using long sources. Short sources (such as articles, chapters, or poems) are written in quotation marks.
  • Data. Always include the year when your source was released.
  • Punctuation. Always end sections by periods.

Academic Language

This feature is of key importance, since your paper must be written in a formal way. It creates a better impression, because your text sounds objective. This is the best way to convince your readers to accept your point. Make sure that your paper doesn’t contain any of these mistakes:

  • Personal pronouns. It makes your text subjective and informal, so it’s the worst thing for academic papers.
  • Run-on expressions. Short phrases that help us in a spoken language, but cannot be used in academic papers: “so on”, as well as “and so forth” and other unnecessary constructions.
  • Contractions. Another nice feature of a spoken language, which cannot be used in academic papers.
  • Colloquialisms. You must avoid these expressions for the same reason as contractions or run-on expressions.
  • Rhetorical questions. They make your papers better, in case you’re writing a personal essay or philosophic sketches. Never use these questions in academic writing, because your point must be clear and unequivocal.

Some of these rules may seem too difficult, but in fact, when it comes to grading, they play very important roles. If you feel unconfident about your academic language, we suggest taking lessons or ordering help of professional editors. You can also check out our articles and learn more about academic papers of different kinds.

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