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Chicago 17th edition referencing guide: General rules

About Chicago style

The Chicago Manual of Style allows for two different types of referencing styles.  There is the Notes and Bibliography Style (the subject of this guide), and the Author-Date System (a variation of the Harvard style).

While the Notes and Bibliography Style allows for either footnotes or endnotes, this guide will deal with footnotes. Bibliographic citations are provided in footnotes, supplemented by a bibliography at the end of the document.  Your footnotes and bibliography should identify references cited (eg. book, journal article, webpage, video) in sufficient detail so that others may locate and consult your references. Each note corresponds to a raised (superscript) number in the text.

Punctuation marks and spaces within the citation are very important. Follow the punctuation and spacing as given in the examples.

This guide is based on The Chicago Manual of Style 17th edition.



  • Footnotes are used to indicate a citation.
  • A superscript number is placed within the text (where needed - not necessarily at the end of a sentence) to indicate a footnote.
  • The number is repeated at the beginning of the footnote at the bottom of the page, and is full size, (not superscript) and followed by a full stop.
  • When citing a source for the first time, always cite in full.
  • Subsequent footnotes of the same source (not consecutively listed) are shortened.

Formatting citations in footnotes

Punctuation, spacing and the order of elements in the citation are important, and examples should be followed carefully. Notice for instance:

  • The author's name is not inverted, and is written in full.
  • Publishing details of books are enclosed in brackets.
  • Journal article and book chapter titles are enclosed in double quotation marks.
  • The first line of each footnote is indented.
  • Different source types require slightly different information to be included in the citation (refer to the relevant source types)

Citing author names

Authors’ names are normally given as they appear with the source itself. If correction identification is needed, first names may be given. If an author uses their given name in one cited work and initials in another (e.g., “Mary L. Jones” versus “M. L. Jones”), the same form, preferably the fuller one, should be used in references to that author for both works.

Two or three authors (or editors) of the same work are listed in the order in which they appear with the source. In a bibliography, only the first author’s name is inverted, and a comma must appear both before and after the first author’s given name or initials. Use the conjunction and (not an ampersand).


Where a full day/month/year date for updated/modified/access dates for websites, dates for conferences etc is required, please use the following format:

  • updated/modified/accessed February 6, 2018

For any edition other than the first, both the edition and the date of that edition must be included in a listing.



  • Alphabetically lists all sources cited and consulted for the assignment.
  • Arrange the list by author's surname, or title if no author is given.
  • Different source types require slightly different information to be included in the citation (refer to the source types listed in the guide).

Formatting citations in the bibliography

The format of citations in the bibliography is similar to that used in the full footnote citation. However, the following differences are important.

  • References must be listed alphabetically. Include indefinite articles (the, a, an) but ignore them when ordering your references.
  • References in the reference/bibliography list should be indented on the second line (in cases where reference is two or more lines).
  • The name of the first author is inverted so that the surname name appears first.
  • The elements of the citation are separated by full stops, not commas.
  • Publishing details for books are not enclosed in brackets.

Citing titles

Italics are used for the titles of books, journals, newspapers and blogs, movies and video games, and paintings.

Quotation marks are generally reserved for the titles of subsections of larger works including chapter and article titles and the titles of poems in a collection.

For English-language works, titles are capitalized headline-style in source citations. In headline style, the first and last words of title and subtitle and all other major words are capitalized.

A colon is used to separate the main title from the subtitle even if no colon appears in the source itself.



  • Subscript numbers are always placed after punctuation (eg. full stops, brackets and commas).
  • Footnotes and references should always end with a full stop.
  • The title of a resource should be capitalised (e.g. An Encyclopedia of World History).
  • Acceptable abbreviations include:
    • chap. for chapter
    • ed/eds. for editor(s), edition & edited by
    • et al. for and others
    • n.d for no date
    • pt. for part
    • rev. for revised, revised by, revision review
    • trans. for translator(s) & translated by