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Tips on Formatting a Paper in the Chicago Writing Style

Whether you are using the APA, MLA or Chicago writing style, virtually every teacher expects to get correctly formatted papers. The following tips explain the formatting requirements for your paper. The task will be easier and you will save time later if you set everything up correctly at the outset.

General Layout of Pages

If you are wondering “what is Chicago style writing,” here is some advice on page layout.

  • Allow 1-inch margins on the four sides of the page – top, bottom, left and right.
  • Use a 12-point font in the Times or Times New Roman style throughout.
  • Text should be double-spaced.
  • Text is to be fully justified to the left margin with the right margin left jagged. Newspaper style (i.e. full justification) should not be used.
  • Paragraphs should begin with half an inch “hanging” indent (e.g., bibliography-style) and block quotations.
  • Page numbers should be placed in the top right corner, starting on the first text page. It is advisable to include your surname, too, in case pages become separated. Page numbers should be displayed all the way through from the first essay page of text page to the very last bibliography page. However, once your main text ends, you should not include any further pages when calculating the total number of essay pages. For instance, a 5-page paper may also require a title page, a couple of pages of notes (say two), and a page of bibliography entries. This makes a total of 9 pages, but only five of which are your actual essay or paper. 
  • Ask your instructor if you can print on both sides of the paper.

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Cover/Title Page

  • With the Chicago writing format, the paper’s title should be centred mid-way down the page.
  • Your name should be centred directly beneath the paper’s title.
  • The name of your tutor, the title of your course and faculty, and the assignment’s date should be placed on three separate lines and centred near the end of the title page.
  • Use a 12 point Times/Times New Roman font. Title pages should not be decorated, e.g., do not use underlining, bold, or other elaborate fonts. 
  • Cover or title pages should not be numbered or counted in the total number of pages. 

How Your Paper should be Arranged

  • Cover or title page
  • Body paragraphs
  • Appendices (if applicable)
  • Notes pages
  • Bibliography

Naming Conventions and Page Numbering in the Chicago writing style

  • In references to people, agencies, organizations, or legislation, use full names or titles on first reference. When referring to organizations or agencies, place the acronym (or abbreviated version) in parenthesis after the fully written-out name the first time you use it e.g. World Health Organization (WHO).  
  • After your first reference to a person by their full name, you can use their surnames thereafter. In the case of agencies, organizations or legislation, by the abbreviated version or acronym for the remainder of your paper. 
  • Write all numbers under 100 in full i.e. one, twenty, forty, etc.    

Use of Endnotes and Footnotes

  • With the Chicago style of writing, the same formatting rules apply to both endnotes and footnotes. The former should appear on a new page after a paper’s main body while the latter should appear at the end of any page a reference appears. 
  • Place note numbers within the paper’s text - at the close of the sentence that contains the reference even when the source is referred to at the beginning of a sentence.
  • A note number is added after every other punctuation mark.
  • Use Arabic numbers (i.e. 1, 2 and 3) and not Roman numbers (i.e. i, ii and iii).
  • Endnote pages should display the header “Notes” and not the word “Endnotes” at the top of the page in a 10-point Times font or in Times New Roman.
  • Notes should be typed in single spacing, but allow a double space between each entry.
  • Indent the first line of every note. 
  • Do not reuse numbers. Give every new quote or reference its own new note number even if the reference has been previously used.
  • Look for short versions of repeatedly used sources.
  • If you are citing multiple sources in a single note, separate them with a semicolon. Do not use more than one number at a sentence end.
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Creating Bibliographies

  • Bibliographies in the Chicago writing style should begin on a fresh page. Centre the word “Bibliography” at the top of the page. Use a 12-point Times font or a Times New Roman font. Do not use a bold or large font. 
  • Take care to use the correct formatting styles. The bibliography style differs from the notes style.
  • “Hanging” indentations are used in bibliography writing i.e. the very first line of the entry begins at the left margin while subsequent lines are indented.   
  • Alphabetize any source that has no known author by the title under authors and not in its own list. 
  • Do not separate sources of the primary variety from the secondary variety unless a tutor instructs it.

Common Mistakes to Look Out For

If desired, you should be able to find a Chicago writing style template on the Internet, which you can use as a guide. However, here are a few things to be aware of:

  • The format for notes is first name/surname and for bibliographies it is surname/first name.
  • Note numbers should not be reused.
  • Attend to indentation. Indent the first line for notes and use a “hanging” indent for bibliographies.
  • Notes are given numbers and listed in the same order that sources are displayed within a text. Bibliography entries are ordered alphabetically under author or by title where the author is not known.
  • The terms “Works Cited” does not apply to a bibliography – this is a feature of the MLA citation style.