How to Cite Chicago in Your Paper: a Complete Guide from Flowcite

How to Cite Chicago in Your Paper: a Complete Guide from Flowcite

Throughout the humanities, Chicago Style is the preference for citation purposes. As you likely suspect, it was developed by the University of Chicago to create conformity among different disciplines. 

Unlike MLA or APA, it uses footnotes and is more flexible than other kinds of citation—which also means it can be more difficult to master. Like many forms of citations, it’s tedious and time-consuming. If you’re using it for the first time, then you’re in the right place. 

We’ve written this guide to help you cite in Chicago Style and know everything there is to the proper Chicago citation format. We also suggest bookmarking this page for quick reference when you need to cite in this specific format.

Before anything else, let’s define what Chicago Style is and how it came to be.

What is Chicago Citation

Also sometimes referred toas the Turabian Style, the Chicago citation has been around since 1891 and is largely based on the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS). Now, there are some nuanced differences between Turabian Style and Chicago style, but most people do use the terms interchangeably. 

Currently in its 17th edition, this form of citation is one of the most widely used in the US. It’s also been especially popularized by authors, editors, proofreaders, indexers, and copywriters alike.

Chicago Style is generally used by the following disciplines:

  • Business
  • Historical research
  • Fine Arts 

Within Chicago citation are two referencing styles: 

  • Notes and Bibliography (NB): Citations are through numbered footnotes and endnotes, with a corresponding bibliography at the end of the paper. 
  • Author-Date: Citations are done through in-text parenthetical references within the text itself, along with a full reference list at the end of your paper. 

Both the bibliography and reference list should be listed in alphabetical order.

As you write your research paper, you only need to stick to one of the two referencing systems throughout your paper. Avoid switching between the two, since they’re both part of the Chicago Style.

How to Cite Sources in Chicago Style


In using Chicago citation, you should know the following information for each of your sources: 

  • Author
  • Title of book/article
  • Title of newspaper/journal
  • Publisher
  • Publication year
  • Publication month and date
  • City of publication
  • Date of access 
  • Page numbers 
  • URL or name of the database

Once you have these details, you’ll need to choose between the two referencing styles: Notes and Bibliography (NB) or Author-date. In the next section, give you specific instructions on how to apply each one.

Notes and Bibliography Referencing Style

The NB system is commonly used by those in the humanities field, including any topics related to literature, history, or arts. As mentioned earlier, the system presents source information through numbered footnotes and endnotes, with a corresponding bibliography at the end. 

Here’s how to cite Chicago style using the notes and bibliography system. 

Putting In-text Citations

When citing within a text, assign a number at the end of the sentence or clause that corresponds to the full source in the footnote or endnote. 

The number should be written as an in-text superscript, always come after the punctuation mark, and follow a sequential order (e.g., your first citation starts with 1, your second is 2, and so on).

See this example of citing in notes Chicago style

The people are believed to go vindictive during the Red Sun at the Sanctum. 1

1. Smith, “Science Fiction,” 20. 


Citing Authors

When citing a source with two or three authors, list their names in the order they appear in the original publication. Additionally, when you are citing a source with four or more authors, use the term “et al.” after the first author’s name. 

Here are some examples of citing authors in footnotes Chicago Style:

Description Citing Authors in Short Notes
One author George Manson, “College Access,” 23.
Two authors Rutz and Bouman, “Running,” 15.
Three authors Carlos, King, Manson, “Literature Review,” 128-129. 
Four or more authors Carlos et al., “Literature Review,” 128. 


Another thing to keep in mind is that when you cite the same source twice in one sentence, you must cite it in full and short notes. We’ll explain what full and short notes are in the following section.  

Full notes vs. Short notes 

In the NB system, citations can either be a full note or a short note: 

  • A full note provides the complete source information.
  • A short note includes the author’s last name, the source title (shortened, if the title is longer than four words), and the page number(s) of the cited information. 

Keep in mind that you need to use a full note for the first citation of each reference. Only after that can the subsequent citations of the same source be written in short notes.

This is an example of citing the same source in one sentence: 

The seaweed curls up into spiral bundles,1 being one of the many phenomenons during the Red Sun.2

1. John Murphy, People’s Behaviour at the Sanctum, 6th ed. (New Jersey: Free Press, 2017), 05-20.

2. Murphy, People’s Behaviour, 21. 


Writing Footnote Citations

Footnotes are source details you put at the bottom of the page they refer to. They have specific formatting rules for full notes and short notes citation depending on their material type, which we’ve listed below:

Citing a Book
Format Example
Full note Author’s full name, Book Title: Subtitle, edition. (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), page numbers, URL. John Murphy, People’s Behaviour at the Sanctum, 6th ed. (New Jersey: Free Press, 2017), 05-20.
Short note Author’s last name, Shortened Book Title, page number(s). Murphy, People’s Behaviour, 05-20. 


Citing a Book Chapter
Format Example
Full note Author’s full name, “Chapter Title,” in Book Title: Subtitle, ed. Editor’s full name (Place of publication: Publisher, Year), page number(s). Jin Moti, “Cat Purring: Comfort in Humans,” in Enriching Our Lives with Animals, ed. Jim Park (Sydney: Petcare Press, 2020), 72.
Short note Author’s last name, “Shortened Chapter Title”, page number(s). Moti, “Cat Purring,” 75. 


Citing a Journal Article
Format Example
Full note Author’s full name, “Article Title,” Journal Name Volume, no. (Year): page number, DOI/URL. Eric Sanco, “The Advantages of Real Estate Investment,” Journal of Economic 20, no. 3 (2021): 150, 
Short note Author’s last name, “Shortened Article Title”, page number(s). Sanco, “Real Estate Investment,” 60. 


Author-date Referencing Style

When comparing the two referencing styles, many researchers in the physical, natural, and social sciences prefer to use the author-date style. Source citations are written within the text—often with the author’s last name and date of publication in parentheses, and a page number or page range if applicable. The citation is later expanded in the reference list, where readers can see the complete bibliographic information. 

Putting In-text Citations

With author-date style, you have more flexibility with in-text citations. For example, you can cite your sources at the end of the relevant sentence before the period, but you can also integrate it within the sentence, should you prefer to do so. If you include the author’s name in the sentence, you can only have the date and page number in the parentheses. 

Here are some examples:

Description In-text Citation
Citing at the end of relevant sentence Most people prefer working with a mechanical keyboard (Alexander 2017, 26).
Writing author’s name within the text Smith (2017, 10) showed data that many people do not buy a mechanical keyboard. 
Citing multiple authors Mechanical keyboards are better than laptop keyboards (Lu 2021, 26; Mraz 2021).


Note: Include a page number only when referring to a specific part of the text. If you want to cite the text as a whole, you can leave out the page number.

Citing Authors

Like in the NB system, the author-date system also cites a source with two or three authors by listing the names in the order they appear in the original publication. Similarly, for sources with four or more authors, use the term “et al.” after the first author’s name. 

Here are examples of how the author-date style applies to citing multiple authors:

Description In-text citation
Citing one author (Stewart 2021, 26)
Citing two authors (Brown and Williams 2019, 92)
Three authors (Taylor, Robinson, and Kelly 2015)
Four or more authors (Lee et al. 2018)


Writing the Reference List

The reference list appears at the end of your research paper, providing more detailed information about the sources you cited. Each entry in the reference list starts with the author’s last name and the publication date. They are all also listed in alphabetical order. 

These are the different Chicago citation formats for each material type: 

Material Type Format Example
Book Author last name, first name. Year. Book Title. Edition. Place of publication: Publisher. URL. Garcia, Joshua. 2021. Humans in Space. Translated by Sophia Campbell. London: Cape.
Chapter in a Book Author last name, first name. Year. “Chapter Title.” In Book Title, edited by Editor first name last name, page range. Place of publication: Publisher. Kelly, Ryan. 2017. “Shots for Dots.” In Games and Equipment, edited by Kate Shaw, 79-85. New York: Times Press.  
Journal Article Author last name, first name. Year. “Article Title.” Journal Name Volume, Issue number (Publication date): Page range. DOI or URL.  Cameron, Barbara, and Bob Dylan. 2019. “The Plant That Fed Humans for a Century.” Journal of Biological Sciences 1, no. 3 (July): 150-153.
Website Author last name, first name. Year. “Page Title.” Website Name. Access/revision date. URL.  Santos, Joanna. 2018. “The Space Technology.” Skaikru. Updated June 23, 2020.


Citing Sources With Missing Information

As you go through your research process, you might come across instances where the required information for proper citation is not available. Should you encounter such moments, here is a list of common problems and how to get around citing them in both NB and Author-date systems:

Description NB Author-date
Citing a source with no publication date
  1. Smith, Science Fiction, (New Jersey: Norton, n.d.), 290.
(Smith n.d.)
Citing a source with no author
  1. Flowcite, “Chicago Style Citation.”
(Flowcite 2021)

Flowcite: Cite Chicago Style With Ease

The two different formatting choices used in Chicago citationfcan be intimidating and confusing, not to mention time-consuming. Because of this, we highly recommend that you optimise your process with tools designed to help you with Chicago citation format—such as Flowcite. 

Flowcite is an all-in-one platform with various features to help students, researchers, and academics simplify their research process. 

For example, Flowcite gives you more time to do actual research instead of painstakingly checking the citation format of your paper. Our automated citation and reference generator can cite on your behalf and meet any citation standards required of your submission.

On top of all that, Flowcite offers various innovative solutions to help your overall research process, such as:

  • A PDF Viewer and online reader for any research article, allowing you to work with up to 10 collaborators on the same research paper. 
  • Over 7,000 citation styles to help with bibliographies and to easily insert citations in your paper. 
  • Premium Author and Publication Services, powered by Enago, to ensure that your paper is ready for submission. 

No matter your level of experience with citing Chicago style in a research paper, Flowcite helps you with the whole process professionally and with ease.

Sign up with Flowcite today!

Brittany Storniolo
Brittany Storniolo
Content Marketing Strategist

Content Marketing Strategist
Brittany is a Content Marketing Strategist at Flowcite, and an outstanding academic writing expert. She holds a first-class Honours degree in Literae Humaniores from the University of Oxford and has been certified in Digital Marketing Analytics by the MIT Sloan School of Management.

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