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HU 3900: Inquiry Seminar - Urban History - Prof. Constance Clark: Chicago Citations

Chicago Style Citations

Chicago Style Citations

The Chicago NB (Notes & Bibliography) system is often used in History scholarship and provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through footnote or endnote citation in their writing and through bibliography pages. It also offers writers an outlet for commenting on those cited sources. 

Resources to Help with Chicago Citations

To see examples of what Chicago style citations should look like for different source types, check out the following websites. These websites provide guidance on how to format footnotes and bibliography entries for a variety of source types. 

The Chicago Manual of Style



You should include a footnote each time you use a source, whether through a direct quote or through a paraphrase or summary.

Formatting Footnotes:

  • Note numbers should begin with “1” and follow consecutively throughout a given paper. Each new citation gets a new number, even if you have already cited that source.
  • In the text, a superscript number corresponding to the note should be placed in the text when you reference information in a source. Note numbers should be placed at the end of the clause or sentence to which they refer and should be placed after any and all punctuation.  
  • Write the footnotes in the footer of the page on which the source is referenced. The footnote should begin with the same number used in the text of the paper. The first note for each source should include all relevant information about the source: full name(s) of the author(s), source title, and facts of publication. If you cite the same source again, the note need only include the surname(s) of the author(s), a shortened form of the title (if more than four words), and page number(s).
  • For each footnote, include the page number(s) for where you found the information you are citing. If the source does not have page numbers, cite the  chapter number, section heading, or paragraph number.
  • If you wish to include commentary on the source, place the commentary after the citation in the footnote. Separate the citation and the commentary with a period. 

Related Guides

Chicago Citations Video

Run Time: 2:54

Key Student Learning Competencies: 

  • When & Why for Using Chicago (0:25)
  • Chicago In-Text Citations (0:32)
  • Chicago In-Text Footnotes: Books (0:50)
  • Chicago In-Text Footnotes: Journals (1:25)
  • Chicago Bibliographies (1:58)
  • More Resources (2:31)




In the Chicago NB system, the bibliography provides an alphabetical list of all sources used in a given work. This page, most often titled Bibliography, is usually placed at the end of the work. It should include all sources cited within the work.

Although bibliographic entries for various sources may be formatted differently, all included sources (books, articles, websites, etc.) are arranged alphabetically by author’s last name. If no author or editor is listed on a source, the title of that source may be used instead for alphabetization in the bibliography. 

Common Elements

Entries in the bibliography generally include the author (or editor, compiler, translator), title, and publication information. The publication information includes the publication date. For books, include the city of publication and the name of the publisher. For journal articles, include the name of the journal. For journal articles, also include the volume number, issue number, and page range if this information is available. For online sources, include a DOI (digital object identifier) or URL. 

Author’s Names

The first author’s name is inverted in the bibliography, placing the last name first and separating the last name and first name with a comma; for example, John Smith becomes Smith, John. (If an author is not listed first, this applies to compilers, translators, etc.) If there is more than one author, write the first author's name as Surname, First Name. Write the other author's names as First Name Surname. 


Titles of books and journals are italicized. Titles of articles, chapters, webpages, etc. are placed in quotation marks.

Publication Information

The year of publication is listed after the publisher or journal name.


In a bibliography, all major elements are separated by periods.

Formatting the Bibliography:

  • Label your comprehensive list of sources at the end of your paper as “Bibliography.”
  • Start the bibliography on a new page at the end of your paper. 
  • Leave two blank lines between “Bibliography” and your first entry. 
  • Leave one blank line between remaining entries. 
  • List entries in letter-by-letter alphabetical order according to the first word in each entry. 
  • Authors:
    • Use “and,” not an ampersand (&) for multi-author entries. 
    • For two to three authors, write out all names. 
    • For four to ten authors, write out all names in the bibliography but only the first author’s name plus “et al.” in footnotes. 
    • When a source has no identifiable author, cite it by its title.
  • Write out publishers’ names in full. 
  • Do not use access dates unless publication dates are unavailable.  
  • If you cannot ascertain the publication date of a printed work, use the abbreviation “n.d.”
  • If you cannot ascertain the publication date of an online work, write the date that you accessed that work. 
  • Provide DOIs (digital object identifiers) instead of URLs whenever possible