Citing Sources: Chicago Notes/Bibliography Style

This guide gives general guidelines and specific examples for using the Chicago Style Notes and Bibliography citation format.


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Erin Owens
NGL 223D
ORCID: 0000-0001-9520-9314

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Understanding Footnotes

You might be familiar with using parenthetical citations in citation styles like MLA: for instance, "This is a quote from Charles Dickens" (Dickens 32). But the citation for a particular quote, paraphrase, or other reference is done differently in Chicago. You will use a footnote every time you include a quote or an idea from a source.

The words of the quote or idea in your paper will be followed by a number written in superscript (meaning it is smaller than and set a little higher than the surrounding text ). At the bottom of the page, that same number (not in superscript, but in normal font) will appear, followed by a citation for the source.

It is interesting to note that "a large majority of the first students in Sam Houston Normal Institute were State or scholarship students."1


1. Mary S. Estill, Vision Realized: History of Sam Houston State University (Huntsville, TX: Sam Houston Press, 1970), 12.

The superscript footnote number always goes outside the punctuation (period, quotations). If you are accustomed to a citation style like MLA that puts parenthetical citations inside the punctuation, this difference may take some adjustment. Check your text carefully!

Creating Footnotes in Microsoft Word

When you are typing your paper in Microsoft Word and need to insert a footnote, you should generally use the software's built-in command, rather than trying to format all the spacing and orientation yourself.

Put your cursor at the end of the sentence where you want the superscript number for the footnote to appear. Click the References tab in the ribbon, then click the Insert Footnote button. Microsoft Word will automatically add a superscript note number at the end of the sentence and create a matching footnote area at the bottom of the page. All you have to do then is simply add your citation information into the footnote area created for you.

References tab in Microsoft Word


Footnote inserted by References tools in Microsoft Word

First Footnote vs. Future Footnotes

If you reference the same source multiple times in your paper, only the FIRST footnote needs to include the complete citation information.

Future footnotes will be shortened, usually including only the author's last name, a shortened version of the title, and the page number being referenced.

Other General Formatting Guidelines

  • Double-space text, including the bibliography.
  • Capitalize All the Major Words in a Title (Like This).
  • Titles of "long" works (books, journals, magazines, and newspapers) are written in italics.
  • Titles of "short" works (book chapters, articles, and web pages) are written in "quotes."
  • Note that author names are reversed in footnotes vs. bibliography: they are written as "FirstName LastName" (John Smith) in footnotes, but as "LastName, FirstName" (Smith, John) in the bibliography.
  • In footnotes, the various pieces of information in a citation are separated with commas. In the bibliography, many of those pieces of information are instead separated with periods.
  • In footnotes, certain publication details (like a book's place of publication, publisher, and date of publication) are enclosed in parentheses. In the bibliography, these parentheses are removed.
  • Use the abbreviations ed. or eds., comp. or comps., or trans. to indicate editor, editors, compiler, compilers, or translator.


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