Chicago Citation: Guidelines

In your research essay, you will be using the Chicago Manual of Style’s footnote citation (a.k.a. Turabian’s), preferred by historians because archival source information is often difficult to compress into, say, MLA parenthetical style citation. In addition, footnotes let you glance down and see the full citation, rather than having to flip to the back for a works cited page. Footnotes also let you include discursive notes not accommodated in other citation styles. E.g., “For more on this idea, see …,” or “For other examples, see ….”

See my attached Chicago_Model_Format (PDF linked here), which illustrates much of what I discuss below.

There are two variations of Chicago, but the one we’ll use is: full citation + short citations.

  • full citation:  The first time you use or even mention a particular source, you give its full citation.


  • short citation:  Whenever you use that source again, you must cite it again, but in these subsequent notes, you give an abbreviated citation, usually just the author’s last name & a short version of the title.

For images, cite each fully in a footnote the first time you introduce it, and assign it a figure number in parenthesis in your text, e.g.: (fig. 1). For film or tv screenshots, cite the entire document the first time, but also give fig. #s to each screenshot. Thereafter, no need to cite it again, as long as your references to it are clear (by its title or creator) or you use the fig. # again each time you mention it. See also Tipsheets > Handling Images.

If you use the same source more than once in a paragraph, you may wait to cite it the last time you use it in that paragraph, as long as you include in that note all pages used, in the order they appear in your paragraph (even if out of numerical order).

You may, if you wish, gather all your citations for each paragraph and put them all in one note at the end of that paragraph (look at any history book or article for models for this). If you do this, put them in the order you used them in the paragraph.

You may also, if you wish, add discursive notes in the same notes as your citations or even in separate footnotes by themselves. These work like parenthetical asides that you don’t want interrupting your main text, but which you want visible on the page with your text. They can add layers of interpretation or parallel narratives to your own text.

How do I insert footnotes?  Let Word do the work for you.  Click: Menu > Insert > Footnote > Okay. (Make sure “Footnote” and “AutoNumber” are checked.) Word will insert a footnote number in your text & open a footnote box at the bottom. Simply type in your citation. That’s it. Don’t mess with the numbers. To move the note, select the number in your text & move it. To delete the entire footnote, delete the number in your text.

Good practices

As you research, always take down full citations of everything and good notes on how you found it. Never print out anything without making sure the citation is printed on it or you write it on there.  Never.

As you take notes, quote scrupulously and exactly. When you paraphrase, come up with a code to mark it paraphrase, <like angled brackets.> I even insert [all my own words in square brackets] to make sure I remember later the difference between me and my sources.

As you draft, don’t worry about citation style. But do insert notes to yourself [e.g., in brackets] indicating the source, page numbers, etc.

As you finalize your citations, don’t try to memorize this or any style. Keep your copy of Lipson, Cite Right, and refer to good online guides (like the Purdue OWL) for current style. Check these every time you need to cite something.

When you run across objects that don’t fit into any one category, or which fit multiple categories (say, a 1970s Japanese comic book translated by fans, scanned, and posted online in 2001), do your best to include all relevant information by following the citation examples that best fit and cobbling them together as needed (in this case, cite the complete original comic book, the translator’s information, and the complete website information).

Finally, remember that citation is always an editorial decision. Your editor, publisher, or professor may dictate alterations of Chicago or any other style. When in doubt about any given element of citations, ask.

In that light, note that I have modified some of Chicago’s style to suit my own preferences.  As professor/editor, I am allowed to do that!

Go to Wp > Tipsheets > Chicago Citation: Examples



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