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Chicago Style: The Beloved Guide from the 1900s that Still Stands Strong

Chicago Style from the land of deep dish pizza. Photo by Neal Kharawala on Unsplash

Back in 1891, the University of Chicago Press began operations and at the same time started the process of developing a system they later called the Chicago Style that they could use for scientific papers. Through grueling work and an annoying back and forth, the organization was able to come up with a style that they then shared with the rest of the institution.

At first, the style guideline was a simple checklist which then grew into what might now be called an info graphic. Over decades, the style guidelines have grown into a book of regulations to be used by those who desire to apply the Chicago manual style.

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Today, the Chicago style manual has been updated 17 times and still widely applied in numerous disciplines. Produced in tandem with a thoughtful (and striking) redesign of online version of the Chicago Style manual the 17th edition continues the Manual’s tradition as an authority for generations of readers seeking answers to all things related not only to the written word but also to the myriad and evolving ways in which words and ideas are shared and published.

The Chicago style manual is favored in history, philosophy, religion and the arts. This is despite the fact that initially the style was meant to be used in language and literature papers. Chicago style is not a commonly used as APA and MLA but it is worth understanding. As your chosen assignment helper, Custom Essays brings you a guide to help you grasp the traits of Chicago style and how to use it in academic writing.

Why Use Chicago?

The Chicago style makes work easier for both the reader and the writer. By keeping to a logical structure and a consistent style the writer is able to maintain the thought process as well as helping the reader follow the paper and ideas as [presented. The point of applying academic writing styles is to ensure that in the text, therein lies cues which the reader can use to navigate the text. The guidelines also allow the readers to concentrate more on their ideas by eradicating unfamiliar formatting. The guidelines aid writers in establishing credibility or ethos in the academic field.

The other advantage of using the Chicago writing format is that through the use of footnotes, you do not have to repeat the citation from the same source in full. Apparently, if a particular source has been used on the same paper, the writer only needs to include information that will relate to the previous source. On the same note, if different parts of the reference material are cited back to back, the second footnote would be cited using the term “Ibid.”

Chicago formatting style does not have a specific guideline or design requirement for writing different levels of heading. However, if you are using different levels of headings in your paper, you need to be careful about using more than three levels of subheadings on the same paper. You should always ensure that each level of the subheading is supported with enough quantity of information. Avoid creating different subheadings if you only have a single subheading on its level.

When it comes to the length of the paper regarding the Chicago writing format, it is not advisable to insert subheadings on papers that are shorter than five pages. Subheadings are not used to label different ideas but to separate different sections of the paper. You can organize your ideas by beginning each of your introduction paragraphs with topic sentences and finishing with transitions. Avoid using Roman numerals, alphabets, or numbers with your headings.

How to Use the Chicago Style


  • Title Page

The Chicago Manual Style requires a title page just like APA. In CMS, the title page has the following:

  1. 1 inch margins
  2. No page number
  3. Legible font
  4. Centered title a third way on the page
  5. Title and Subtitle in bold, maybe slightly larger font if need be

On the last third of the page:

  1. Your First and Last Name
  2. The Course Number and Title
  3. The Due Date of the Paper
  • First Page

The first page of your document should include:


  1. Page number (start at page 1)
  2. A section heading (if your instructor requires it) that is bold and slightly larger than the rest of the text
  3. A skipped line after the heading
  4. Introduction to your paper

Types of Chicago Styling

The Notes-Bibliography System

This system is often used to present history papers. History often requires footnotes and endnotes to ensure that any useful information has been included in the paper even when it is not exactly relevant. A note is used as a

Footnotes in Chicago Style

citation after you have included information from a source within your paper.


As an example, if you are including a quote from Robert James Waller’s Bridges of Madison County in your paper, directly after the quote, you would include a note of the citation information.

These numbers correspond to footnotes at the bottom of the page. The first time that you refer to a source, you will write a full citation, but each time you reference that source again with a paraphrase or a quote, you will include a shortened citation in the note.

Author-Date System

This is the second system under Chicago styling. It is often used in the sciences as these do not require footnotes and endnotes as much. The sources are cited in the text with a parenthesis, where there is the author’s name, the year of publication, and the page number if necessary. Here is an excellent example of how the format should look like;


(Author Last Name 2020, 25)


In CMS, in addition to using a note to cite your source within the paper, you will also include a list of all the sources you used as a bibliography. The bibliography list should be the final page of your paper.


  • Center the word Bibliography at the top of the page, make it bold, and increase font size the same as all earlier headings
  • Skip two lines before first entry
  • List entries in alphabetical order
  • Single space each entry, but allow one blank space between each entry
  • Use a 0.5″ hanging indent for each entry
Type of Source Note Bibliography
Journal 1.       First Name Last Name, “How to Do Basically Anything,” Journal Name Volume (Year): Page,

2.       Last Name, “Basically Anything,” Page.

Last Name, First Name. “How to Do Basically Anything,” Journal Name Volume (Year): Page,
Book 1.       First Name Last Name, Book Title (Publisher, Year), Page.

2.       Last Name, Book Title, Page.

Last Name, First Name Initial. Book Title. City: Publisher, Year
Chapter Author, “Topic,” in Book Title (City: Publisher, Year), Page. Author. “Title.” In Book Title, Pahe Range.  City: Publisher, Year.
Multiple Authors Author A and Author B, Book Title (City: Publisher, Year), Page. Author A and Author B. Book Title. City: Publisher, Year.
Newspaper and Periodicals 1.       Author, “Title,” Name of Newspaper, Month Day, Year, Link

2.       Last Name, “Title.”

Last Name, First Name, “Title,” Name of Newspaper, Month Date, Year. Link
Edited Source Author, “Topic” in Editor(s), Book Title (City: Publisher, Year), Page. Author. “Topic,” in Book Title. Edited by Editors. City: Publisher, Year.


Final Words

From the look of things, the Chicago Manual Style is more complex than APA and MLA. This is perhaps why it is not as commonly used as those two. Maybe the confusion occurs due to the difference in referencing in the notes versus referencing in the bibliography.

Chicago Style

Breakdown of the Chicago style

There are numerous resources and tools one can use to go around the problem of having to master various styles. You may use a citation generator which would have you enter the information then it would cough out the entry.

The second option would be to use the referencing tool in the word processor. This tool requires that you enter the information then simply pick on an entry whenever you need to reference or cite it. This might be easier as it generates the bibliography automatically. However, there might be a complication if the word processor has an outdated version of the Chicago manual. There would be inappropriate citations or issues of flouting the rules. The third option would then be to contact Custom Essays and have us assign someone to your case.

Our professionals are always up to date with the latest updates to writing styles and guidelines. We will ensure that your paper is presented in the correct formatting. All you have to do is give us the instruction and we will take care of everything else.


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