Turabian Style 101: Simple Guide for the Best Papers - Custom Scholars

Turabian Style 101: Simple Guide for the Best Papers

Turabian style

Just like IEEE, Turabian is also based on the Chicago style manual. It was aimed toward helping students and researchers specifically. Therefore, if the instructions are to use the Chicago style for dissertations, theses or research papers then it means that you should follow the Turabian rules.

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Developed and named after Kate Turabian, this style first came to light in the late 1930s and has since been updated eight times. Unlike IEEE which is based on the Chicago style but is still distinctive, Turabian is almost exactly similar to its parent style.

Formatting Papers in Turabian

The Chicago style is tailored for publishers while Turabian is meant for students and researchers. This means that both have different priorities where formatting is concerned. Usually, institutions have guidelines on how papers presented by students should be structured. However, in cases where such do not exist the following is standard:

  • Use a standard font like 12 pt. Times New Roman.
  • Double-space the text.
  • Use 1 inch margins or larger.
  • Indent new paragraphs by ½ inch.
  • Place page numbers in the top right or bottom center.
  • To add to the support for students and researchers, the following are issues one should check on:
  • The paper should be written in the 3rd person (he, she, and it) with an active voice, rather than passive voice.
  • Unless a professor specifically asks for a paper in 1st person (I, me, we, us, our) or 2nd person (you, your) language, avoid these in a paper.
  • Be specific and concise.
  • In historical writing, use simple past tense verbs.  When referring to an author’s written work, use the present tense.
  • Add quotation marks around the titles of shorter works (i.e., articles or poems); use italics for the names of larger works (i.e., books or plays).

Turabian just like the Chicago style and other styles like APA offers directions on small issues like the title page and how to write page numbers.

Title Page – According to Turabian style, class papers will either include a title page or include the title on the first page of the text. Thus, the this page should have a centered title a third way down as well as your name, class information, and the date should follow several lines later. For subtitles, end the title line with a colon and place the subtitle on the line below the title. Double-space each line of the title page.

Pagination – Technically, the first page is the title page but the page number is not usually added. Pagination for the fore matter, if any (including the table of contents), uses lowercase Roman numerals (i, ii), in the center bottom of the page. Begin with ii, to account for the title page position. Some institutions may direct students to use a different pagination format with the pages succeeding the title page being 1.

Body of the paper – The word Introduction is no longer included in student papers unless the instructions specifically require such. The first paragraph in the body of academic papers should include an introductory paragraph (with no label, title, or heading above it).

Subheadings – other formatting styles specify three or at most four heading levels. Turabian specifies up to five levels formatted as follows:

First level centered, boldface, in headline case
Second level centered, not bolded, in headline case
Third level left-justified, boldface, in headline case
Fourth level left-justified, not bolded, in sentence case
Fifth level indented ½”, not bolded, italicized, in sentence case with a period, then one space, and begin your content on the same line


Two options for citing sources in Turabian

In-text Citation in Turabian


Turabian offers two options for citation. The first is author-date which is basically the author’s name and the date of publication in parenthesis. This is the most common citation option for the formatting styles. It is usually attached to a reference list at the end of the paper. For example,

(Author Year, page)


References in Turabian

When you use the author-date design, the list of sources should be titled ‘References’ with two lines between that and the first entry. The entries should only have one line of space between each other. List entries in letter-by-letter alphabetical order according to the first word in each entry, be that the author’s name or the title of the piece.

Use “and,” not an ampersand, “&,” for multi-author entries. For two to three authors, write out all names. For four to ten authors, write out all names in the bibliography but only the first author’s name plus “et al.” in notes and parenthetical citations. When a source has no identifiable author, cite it by its title, both on the references page and in shortened form (up to four keywords from that title) in parenthetical citations throughout the text. Write out publishers’ names in full.

Do not use access dates unless publication dates are unavailable. If you cannot ascertain the publication date of a printed work, use the abbreviation “n.d.” Provide DOIs instead of URLs whenever possible. If no DOI is available, provide a URL. If you cannot name a specific page number when called for, you have other options: section (sec.), equation (eq.), volume (vol.), or note (n.).


The second option is the notes and bibliography design which attaches a superscript number to a footnote and comes with a bibliography at the end of the paper. Some institutions will urge the students to use one over another.

Each footnote should appear at the bottom of the page that includes its numbered in-text reference. For note numbers in the text, use superscript. Indent the first line of each note half an inch like a paragraph in the main text. Use a short line (or rule) to separate footnotes from the main text.

Single-space each note, and add a blank line between notes. Leave the right margin “ragged.” Use regular text or smaller for the notes. For note numbers in the notes, use normal text with a period and space after, or use superscript with a space but no period after.

A footnote/note entry will usually look different from a bibliographical entry. The text will be superscripted while the footnote entry would look like:

    1. First Name Last Name, “Title of Source,” Name of Source Volume, no. (Month Year): Page Range. Accessed mm. dd, yyyy, link.


Bibliography in Turabian

The bibliography lists full information on all the sources cited in your text. It appears at the end of your text. Bibliography entries are alphabetized by authors’ last names, so names are inverted in the bibliography with a comma separating them.

Each source is listed on a new line, with a hanging indent applied when an entry for a single source extends onto additional lines. Use the word Bibliography for notes-bibliography format.

To simplify things, check the following to ensure that nitty gritties of Turabian are taken care of:

  • Center and bold the word “Bibliography” (without quotation marks) on the top line of a new page following your conclusion.
  • Single-space entries, with one blank line separating each.
  • Use hanging indents (left-justify the first line of each entry and indent lines two+ of each entry ½” from the left margin).
  • Alphabetize all entries by the first word in each (usually the first author’s last name for each).
  • Invert the first author’s name (last name, first, middle), but not the remaining authors’ names in each entry.
  • Cite classical works (including the Bible) and personal communications in the body of the paper, but do not include them in the reference or bibliography list.
  • Include periods after both URLs and DOIs. Check Google Scholar or crossref.org for DOIs of all articles published since 2007, if one is not readily denoted on the article itself.
  • Only include the access date for online content that is likely to change (such as wikis).




Book First Name Last Name, Book Title (City: Publisher, Year), Page.


Last Name, Book Title, Pages.

Last Name First Name. Book Tile. City: Publisher, Year.
Chapter in a book First Name Last Name, “Chapter Title,” in Book Title, ed. First Name Last Name (City: Publisher, Year), Pages.


Last Name, “Chapter Title,” Page.

Last Name, First Name. “Chapter Title.” In Book Title edited by First Name Last Name, Pages. City: Publisher, Year.
E-Book First Name Last Name, Book Title (City: Publisher, Year), Page, link


Last Name, Book Title, Pages.

Last Name, First Name. Book Title. City: Publisher, Year. Link

If there are more than 10 authors, only list 7 then add ‘et al’

First Name Last Name, “Article Title,” Journal Name Volume, Issue (mm yyyy): page, link.


Last Name, “Article Title,” Pages.

Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Journal Name Volume, Issue (mm yyyy): Pages. Link.
Newspaper First Name Last Name, “Article Title,” Newspaper Name, mm dd, yyyy, link.


Last Name, “Article Title.”

Last Name, First Name. “Article Title.” Newspaper Name, mm dd, yyyy. Link.
Website Author, “Article Title,” Website Name, last modified mm dd, yyyy, link.


Website Name, “Article Title.”

Author. “Article Title.” Website Name. Last Modified mm dd, yyyy. Link.
Audiovisual First Name Last Name, “Title,” Channel/Source Name, mm dd, yyyy, link Last Name, First Name. “Title.” Channel/Source Name, mm dd, yyyy. Link.


In Summation…

Turabian is a little simpler to understand than IEEE but, it being only an adaptation of Chicago, can confuse you especially if you have a good mastery of the latter. All you have to do is note the differences like having two options for citation, you should be good to go. Reach out to us. Let’s discuss the ways in which Turabian has deviated from the Chicago style.

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