How do I format my essay using Chicago style?


The first thing to know is that styles change over time. Chicago style is on its seventeenth edition. Thus, it is imperative to double check all guideline information with up to date style guides. Here is a website that contains all the information you need to format your paper correctly and ensure you're up to date:

Use the links on the left side of the page to learn more specific details about the formatting style. 

Another helpful link is this sample paper that shows how a Chicago essay should appear with text boxes explaining all the features. There are two ways to cite sources in Chicago style. Check with your teacher to clarify which form to use:

Chicago Author Date Sample Paper:

Chicago NB Sample Paper:

Here are some general current guidelines for Chicago formatting:


Writing should be in a readable font, double spaced (except for block quotes, notes, reference page, and a few other exceptions), size 10-12 (12 preferred). The margins should be no less than one inch on all sides of the paper. Page numbers should be in the upper right hand corner starting on the main text after the title page. Subheadings should be used on longer papers. On the title page, the title should be centered a third of the way down the page. Your name, class information, and date should follow several lines below. The main body text begins immediately on the first line of the page after the title page. The rules for formatting the main body are very similar to MLA and APA formatting. Read the formatting page above for more specifics, especially regarding capitalization. Also, indent block quotes one tab over--the same amount as the beginning of a paragraph. 

In-Text Citations: 

What in-text citations to use depends on if you are using the author-date style or Notes-Bibliography (NB) style. 

Author-date style: For author-date style, once a quote or paraphrase is used, a parentheses with the last name, date of publication, and page number(s) should follow. Every citation should correspond to an entry on the reference page. This is very similar to APA style. See the sample paper for more details. 

For example: "..." (Harvey, 1990, 22). 

NB style: For this style, once a quote or paraphrase is used, a superscript number follows that corresponds to the footnotes at the bottom of the same page. For each citation, the first time a source is used, a more complete citation is used in the footnote than in Author-date style. This will include the author, the title, publication location, publisher, year, and then the page number. After the first use of a source, every footnote that uses the same source only includes the author name and page number immediately after the original source note. However, if that source reappears later after several other source notes, then the note should include the author name, abbreviated title, and the page number. The notes should be numbered and indented as if each note is a new paragraph. 

For example: "..."²


(Other sources used in the text...)


     2. David Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1990), 12.

     3. Harvey, 15.

     7. Harvey, The Condition of Postmodernity, 22.

References Page:

The References page should be double spaced with the words "References" set at the top as a centered title when in author-date style or "Bibliography" when in Note-Bibliography style. Entries should be single spaced with one space between entries and two spaces between the "References" title and the entries. Again, everything is in the same font as the rest of the paper. For each entry, there should be a hanging indent when the entry is more than one line. That means that every line except for the first line should be indented the same as a paragraph. All references should be in alphabetical order as well--last name of the author first, followed by first name. If there are one to three authors, their full names should be written. If more than three, use the first name only followed by et. al. 

Here is some of the information that could be included in each entry: the author, title of the work, container of the work (journal, book, etc.), publisher, year of publication, volume number (if a journal), database found, website, page numbers, source type, and date of access. Here are a few examples, but double check this on the OWL Purdue web page below. 

Author-Date Style: 

Book: Dean, Jodi. 2009. Democracy and Other Neoliberal Fantasies: Communicative Capitalism and Left Politics. Durham: Duke University Press.

Journal Article: Thomas, Nicholas. 2008. “Pedagogy and the Work of Michel Foucault.” JAC 28 (1-2): 151-80.

Website: Heck, Richard Kimberly. “About the Philosophical Gourmet Report.” Last modified August 5, 2016.

NB Style:



Jack Kerouac, The Dharma Bums (New York: Viking Press, 1958), 128.  


Kerouac, Jack. The Dharma Bums. New York: Viking Press, 1958.

Journal Article: 


Susan Peck MacDonald, “The Erasure of Language,” College Composition and Communication 58, no. 4 (2007): 619.


MacDonald, Susan Peck. “The Erasure of Language.” College Composition and Communication 58, no. 4 (2007): 585-625.



Richard Kimberly Heck, “About the Philosophical Gourmet Report,” last modified August 5, 2016,


Heck, Richard Kimberly. “About the Philosophical Gourmet Report.” Last modified August 5, 2016.


There are several more particular rules for Chicago references depending on the source you use, so be thorough in checking over your paper to ensure correct formatting. 

For more information on how to cite specific kinds of sources, visit this Purdue OWL page:

See the links on the left hand side for information on citing specific sources like websites, periodicals, and more. 

IF you use a citation engine that automatically cites a source, make sure to double check that the citation is correct. Often times these engines are not entirely accurate and this could cost you points on your paper. Always check your work before submitting. 

See links for more information. 

  • Last Updated May 29, 2024
  • Views 1
  • Answered By Timothy Connors

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