This article examines the use of Chicago style footnotes for citation. Students should familiarize themselves with the relevant information in the latest edition of the Chicago Manual of Style.1
Definition: Chicago style footnotes
Chicago style footnotes enable the reader to find the sources used by the author of a text or academic paper. They are also known as the notes-bibliography style, as they are used with a bibliography. When the author refers to a source, a superscript number is inserted. These indicate that the reader should view the citation details in the footnote at the bottom of the page. Full source details can then be found in the bibliography if required.2
Chicago style footnotes – Full and short notes
When Chicago style footnotes are first cited in a text, they may appear in full note style, including the author’s full name, title, and publication details:
Thereafter they may appear in short form. This may be author-title:
“Ibid.” may be used when you use the same reference right after each other.
Placement of Chicago style footnotes
The details of Chicago style footnotes always appear at the bottom (footer) of the page on which the superscript appears. Microsoft Word provides a toolbar footnote insertion option. This creates a superscript number prompting the user to enter the source information in the footer of the page. Footnotes are generally always placed after punctuation:
The exception is after a dash (-), in which case the superscript always appears before the punctuation:
Content of Chicago style footnotes
Chicago style footnotes assist the reader in locating sources. If a page number is cited, it should enable the reader to find a passage or quotation. For book titles longer than four words, the complete title is given in the bibliography.
Combining multiple citations
It is not possible to use several superscripts in a row for the same text (e.g. 3,4,5). Multiple sources must be cited in a single footnote by separating them with a semicolon:
Sources with one, two, three, four, and more authors
- For a single author in full form, Chicago style footnotes include author’s name and surname, book title (place of publication: publisher, date):
- Two authors:
- Three authors:
- Four or more authors, list the first author, then “et al.”:
Some sources, notably websites, may not have the bibliographic data required for Chicago style footnotes. Instead, include the title of the piece followed by its URL or DOI.
If no publication date for a source is known, the letters n.d. (no date) are inserted in the text:
The abbreviation n.p. can stand for no page number, no publisher, or no place, depending on context:
When no author is given, “Anonymous” (“Anon”) can be used for a book:
Alternatively, the publishing organization of the source may be used instead of the author:
If website or blog author data are missing, the title alone can be included:
When the author is known, a single entry under author suffices in the bibliography.
Chicago style footnotes – Different source types
The following illustrates examples of long and short notes for various source types in Chicago style.
Chicago style footnotes – Book citation
Print form book citation is the same as that of a single author:
Online and digital versions have the same publication details, but not all digital versions have standard pagination. In this case, specify the location by chapter. For online texts, it is useful to add the URL, bearing in mind these can change.3
Chicago style footnotes – Chapter citation
In a volume with multiple contributors, the part author is cited first:
Chicago style footnotes – Journal citation
To cite a journal article in Chicago style footnotes, list author, article title, journal name (italicized), edition, and date (non-italicized), a colon, and the page number(s):
Papers in online journals are frequently accessed by DOI (digital object identifier) rather than URL (uniform resource locator). DOI links are more reliable than URLs since URLs can disappear without warning.
Chicago style footnotes – Website citation
Since websites vary so much in quality, bibliographic information can be hard to extract. Include author wherever possible, thus:
Chicago style footnotes vs. endnotes
Both, footnotes or endnotes, may be used to cite the work of authors and convey additional information.
|Advantage of footnotes||Disadvantage
|They appear at the bottom of the page, making source checking instantaneous.||They are generally in a smaller typeface than the main body of the text. Lengthy footnotes can break the flow of reading|
Endnotes are placed after the main text and any appendices, but before the bibliography and/or works cited.
|Endnotes can convey supporting material in a note that is too lengthy for a footnote||Endnotes are not visible on the same page.|
Chicago style footnotes are located on the foot of each page on which the superscript appears, whereas endnote details appear at the end of the book.
Chicago style footnotes do not intrude and are less likely to break the flow of reading than the author-date or “in-text” style, for example: (Seward: 1911). However, in-text is acceptable as an alternative to Chicago style footnotes.
No. Choose one option, and be consistent.
1 Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations – Ninth Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.
2 Chicago-Sytle Citation Quick Guide. “Chicago-Style Citation Quick Guide.” Accessed July 7th 2022. https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html.
3 Reference styles – a Practical Guide. “Chicago referencing style.” University of York. Accessed July 7th, 2022. https://subjectguides.york.ac.uk/referencing-style-guides/chicago/.