How to Format a Paper in Chicago Style

Formating Paper in Chicago Style

Citations are very important for your essays. You must cite everything that has been extracted from some source. If you do not cite the work, it will be a form of cheating and is highly unethical. It is never right to use someone else’s work without credits. There are various citation styles that you can follow for different papers. Chicago style format is for the published papers not for the academic papers. If you also want to learn how to format a paper using the Chicago style, this article will highlight all the important steps, tips, and tricks for you.

A Note On Citations

There are two different citation styles in Chicago style format: author-date sample and notes-bibliography.

Author-date sample

As the name shows, the author-date format has citations in parentheses. In parenthesis, the author’s name is later followed by the year of publication. This parenthetical citation is placed in the text. Each of these in-text citations corresponds to another entry on the reference page. We can also say that this is similar to the APA citation method. 

Notes bibliography

In the notes-bibliography, the text extracted from other sources is tagged with the numbers after any punctuation. These numbers direct to a citation at the end of each page in the footnotes. The citations at the bottom of the page are shortened and lead to the longer citation at the end of the document as a reference page. 

General Guidelines for Chicago Style

This method follows a few guidelines which are explained below.


The text in the paper should be double spaced. Only the text of quotes, citations, and questions can have the exception of double spacing.

Page number

Page numbers in Chicago format are placed on the top right of each page and can also be placed on the bottom center. These page numbers begin from the very first page and are numbered with the Arabic number “1”. 


There is no strict format for the subheadings. You can simply add subheadings if your paper is too long.


You should take care of the paper margins, as they should not be less than 1.

Font style

The only consideration for the font style is that it should be readable. Font styles like Times new roman are preferable.

Font size

Font size should also be something around 10pt and not less than that. However, the font size of 12pt is preferable.

Block quotations

Block quotations are the extracts and any quote involving more than 100 words should be blocked. Moreover, poetry with more than two lines should also be blocked. Never place this extract in quotation marks and begin it with a new line.

Major Paper Sections

The following details will make it clear how to format the major sections of the paper. The major sections are the title page and the main body of the paper.

Title Page

Chicago style format usually does not require the title page. However, the Turabian style gives guidelines on how to format the title page. The steps to format the title page are as follows.

  • In the title page, you should align your text in the center of the page and the text should be double spaced. 
  • You should write the title in capital and bold letters. The title should be placed at 1/3 distance of the page from the top. 
  • If your paper is too long and you plan on adding subtitles, then you should follow a specific format for it. There should be a colon after the headings. On the very next line, you will place the subtitles. The size, font, and boldness of subtitles will be the same as that of the headings.
  • Now, if you move at 2/3 of your page from the top, you can add any personal information here. Only add the information that your instructor requires you to add. It can be name, roll number, and course name, etc. You should begin adding each new information with a new line. 
  • You should not assign any page number to the title page. However, the page numbering begins at page 2 which means that the title page should not be numbered but should be included in the numbering.

Main Body

The main body of your paper is where most of your content lies. It is important to format it properly. There is a lot to take care of in the main body. The headings, footnotes, references, and text lie in the main body. A detailed analysis of every part of the main body is explained below. 


References are so important in your paper formatting. You should format the references following the right methods. Following is the detailed guide to format your references.

  • You should not lose the reference to cites you are extracting content from. Try to add a list of these websites on an extra page. You will later need all these sources to make your in-text references and notes-bibliography. 
  • There should be two lines spacing between references and the very first entry.
  • There should be one line spacing between the remaining entries.
  • The entries in your reference list should be in alphabetical order. Whatever the first thing in your citation is, be it the author’s name or the title of the topic. You should arrange them in alphabetical order based on the first letter. 
  • If you have more than one author, do not separate them using “&”, as it would not be appropriate for the publications. Always mention the word “and” to separate the author’s names. The rules for the multiple writers are as follows.
  • If there are two or three authors, you will list them all in the reference.
  • If there are more than three authors, from four to ten you will write the names of all authors in the bibliography but not in the in-text citation. The parenthetical citation cannot be too long, so it is avoided to add all author’s names. The question arises here, what to add in parenthetical citation if there are four or more authors. In such cases, you just add “et al” after the name of the first author. 
  • There are a few cases where the article does not have any author. People get confused about the citations of such articles. It is simple to cite such texts by using the title of the article. For the bibliography, you should add the full title while for the in-text citations, you should add a maximum of four keywords of the title.
  • You should not shorten the publishers’ names; they should always be written in full.
  • A common mistake repeated in citations is dates. The option of writing accessed date should be used when publication date is not available. You should never mention both the accessed date and publication date.
  • In addition to this, if there is uncertainty about the publication date, you should simply write the abbreviation “n.d”.
  • It is always advisable to prefer providing DOIs instead of URLs whenever they are available. However, in a few situations DOIs are not available so you can provide URLs in such cases.
  • Page numbers are not the only option to call. If you cannot name it, you have many other options such as equation, section, and note etc.


The tips to add footnotes are as follows.

  • The numbers of these notes should start with 1 and follow the consecutive sequence. The sequence should be followed throughout the paper.
  • These numbers of the notes are always superscripted. They should be added at the end of the sentences after the punctuation.
  • The sentences of the paper that contain footnotes should be formatted at the left. 
  • There are a few cases when the footnote contains commentary and documentation both. You should separate them both by a period.
  • However, in the in-text citation, the commentary and documentation are separated by a semicolon. 


If you are adding headings in various ways like headings, subheadings, chapters, and different subjects, then you should be careful of the formatting. Make the same nature of headings appear similar. Bold them and capitalize them in the same way. You should also make sure the main headings stand out more than the rest. Another important thing is headline capitalization. In headline capitalization, you should capitalize the first letter of every main word in the heading. Words like pronouns, punctuations, and articles are never capitalized in the headings unless they are the first word of the heading. The correct formatting for headline capitalization is as follows.

“tips to defend yourself” (incorrect way)

“Tips To Defend Yourself” (incorrect way)

“Tips to Defend Yourself” (correct way)

Tips for Headings

  • You should take care of consistency in your headings and subheadings. Maintaining a parallel structure also enhances the quality of the paper.
  • To capitalize your headings, use headline capitalization which has already been discussed in detail.
  • Never add headings and subheadings in the same line. Always add subheadings in the next line.
  • You should create a difference in the font size of headings and subheadings. Subheadings should have a smaller font size.
  • Never end any subheading with a period.
  • Subheadings can be differentiated from headings by their placement, size, and style. 
  • You should create a clear hierarchy in your headings and subheadings, but it should not be more than three levels of hierarchy.


You should avoid using numbers in your paper especially if they are lower than a hundred. 

“There were 3 books in my bag.” (Incorrect way)

“There were three books in my bag” (Correct way)

However, numbers can be used for measurements along with the unit of measurement.

“The journal was 10 inches long.” (correct way)

“The journal was ten inches long” (correct way)

You should never place numbers in the beginning of the sentence, as it is always considered wrong.


You should avoid using acronyms in your text without introducing them first. If you use the acronym in your text for the first time, it will confuse your reader and they will have no idea what you are referring to. Therefore, it is important to introduce the acronym in the text in the following format.

The World Health Organization (WHO) mentions ……. (Text continues)

After this, you can use the acronym WHO as many times as you want without confusing your audience. Acronyms should also not be placed at the beginning of a sentence. Either change the order of your words to make them appear somewhere else or try writing the full form. 

Tables and Figures

  • In some cases, we have tables and figures in our papers to demonstrate the text we are writing. These tables and figures should be mentioned right after they are discussed. If it is continuous text and requires tables and figures, you can add them after finishing the current paragraph. 
  • If you are adding some figure to demonstrate your thoughts, you should give a short caption or explanation to the figure after mentioning the figure number. It will help you build clarity in your paper.
  • As you cannot use anything in your paper without giving credit to the original creators, you can also not add figures and tables without citations. You should add the credits of content in parenthesis at the end of the figure or table, preferably after the short caption. 

Difference Between Chicago and Turabian Format

The Turabian and Chicago style format share many similarities. The major difference in both formats is the instructions. Turabian style has very few instructions and does not guide the writers appropriately about publishing work. It is for the students who want to write research papers. On the other hand, the Chicago style has detailed instructions about publishing work. It is for the professionals who want instructions for publishing work. Any person who gets aware of the Chicago style can format the publishing paper. 


Chicago style is not difficult to format your paper. You just need to be aware of the basics, tips, and steps to format your paper in Chicago style. It is a little confusing for the people formatting a paper for the first time in Chicago format. This article has highlighted all the important aspects of the Chicago format. If you strictly follow the guidelines mentioned above, you are good to format paper in Chicago style format.