Chicago Essay Format

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Most students find the Chicago format paper the most difficult style in which produce an essay or paper.  While the basics of appearance, pagination, etc. seem quite similar to other styles, the in-text notes and the Chicago bibliography format have certain requirements that make citing resources more complicated. With careful study, however, the Chicago style essay can be mastered. This guide will provide most of the basics for the Chicago style. The student is cautioned, however, that instructors and professors may have specific requirements that veer from the standard format, so it is important to check for any deviations.

TITLE PAGE:  The title of your paper should be in all capital letters, centered, about 1/3 down on the title page.  In the lower half of the page, centered, should be your name (first, middle initial and last). Double space and provide the name of the course; double space again and give the date of submission.

MARGINS: There should be one-inch margins all around, but the right margin should not be justified in the Chicago style essay.

PAGINATION: Pages should be numbered in the upper right-hand corner, starting with the first page of the text. The Chicago format paper does not call for any other headings.

LINE SPACING:  All text should be double-spaced. The only exceptions are for direct quotations of more than five lines, footnotes, and bibliography entries. If in the text of your Chicago essay writing, you have a quotation of more than five lines, double-space before the quote, indent the quote ½ inch and single-space the entire quote.  Footnotes and bibliography entries are always single-spaced.

TITLES OF REFERENCED WORKS:  If you refer to resource materials in the text of your Chicago essay writing, you must place the names of books and periodicals in italics; titles of articles, pamphlets, and other short publication should be placed in quotations.


Chicago style essay writing is one of the few formats that still require that footnotes be formally entered, either at the bottom of the page in which the reference is made or at the end of the work, just before the bibliography.  Check with your professor to determine which s/he prefers.  The footnote or endnote must be numbered and correspond to the same number in the text, to which the footnote refers.  Thus, a piece of information taken from page 8 of Susan Young’s “Writing with Style” pamphlet would be followed by the number “1,” if it is the first footnote of your text.  The footnote would be placed at the bottom of the page, single-spaced, as follows:

1. Susan Young, “Writing with Style,” (New York: Scholastic, Inc., 1977) 8.

If your professor wants endnotes instead, the entry would be in the same format at the end of the work.  Each specific reference after this one would be numbered in order.

If the very next entry after Young’s is again for her work, you need not re-enter all of the information.  You simply write:

2. Ibid., p9

If you refer again to Young’s work later on in your Chicago format paper, you would write that footnote or endnote as follows:

6. Susan Young, Op. Cit., p. 42                      

or, as is often preferred or allowed:

6. Susan Young, “Writing with Style,” p.42

Note that with footnotes and endnotes, the author’s name is first then last.

Chicago Bibliography Format

The bibliography page is placed at the end of the work and will include all resources you have used in the creation of the essay or paper.  Generally, the listing is in alphabetical order by the author’s last name.  Books are italicized, journal articles are in quotes, journal titles are italicized, and short publications, speeches, etc. should be italicized as well.

The format for the entries follows the format used for a full footnote, except that the author’s last name comes first.  If there are multiple authors, the first author listed is the name that is used for the alphabetical lineup.

If there are more than three authors, list the first three followed by a comma and “et. al,” and then the remainder of the information.  Basic examples are as follows:

Journal Article

Arnold, Louis, “A History of the ‘N’ Word,” Journal of American Psychiatry, Vol. I, edition 6, May,1956, pp. 426-7.


Read, Mary, The Art of Writing, New York: Scholastic Press, 2010.

Jones, John and Schwartz, Sally, Writing in the New Age, Boston:  Harvard Press, 2012.

Seifried, Ryan, Huett, Dylan, Voerg, Randolph, et. al., You are What You Write, St. Louis:  Poisoned Pen Press, 2006.

Internet Resources

Arnold, Louis, “A History of the ‘N’ Word,” Journal of American Psychiatry, Vol. I, edition 6, May, 1956, (found at http://www.AmericanPsychological, June 10, 2013)

NOTE:  Some instructors will limit the number of Internet resources one may use or may have a specific format for Internet bibliographical referencing, so be certain to check.


This short guide is meant to provide a basic description of the Chicago format paper.  It is by no means complete nor does it attempt to provide the format for every possible type of reference that might be utilized in an essay or paper.  Should you have unique types of resources, consult the Chicago Style Guide or the Purdue Owl website, both of which provide comprehensive information and lots of examples.