Academic essays require proper formatting and your teacher expects you to cite your sources correctly. At first, glance learning about citations seems strange and confusing. You might even find it as an unnecessary exercise. However, proper formatting and citation gives credibility to your paper. An academic assignment with proper format and citations minimizes ambiguity and ensures accuracy. Also, proper formatting and citation guides readers about your research. Different institutions have different formatting guidelines for writing best essays. The most common formatting styles are MLA, APA, Harvard, and Chicago. In this article, we will only discuss the Chicago formatting style and how to do it properly.

What is the Chicago formatting style?

The University of Chicago developed the Chicago formatting style known as the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) in 1906. It is a popular formatting and citation style in the United States. Publishers across the world use the Chicago formatting style. Humanities and arts subjects follow ‘Notes-Bibliography’ system, while natural and social sciences follow the ‘Author-Date’ system.

Notes-Bibliography System

According to the Chicago Manual of Style, the Notes-bibliography system is most common in humanities––literature, history and arts subjects. The author cites sources in numbered footnotes and endnotes. Authors insert a superscript number in front of the text they want to cite for in-text citations and generate a corresponding note. The bibliography section separately lists all of the sources used in the paper. Notes and bibliography system can even accommodate those sources in the paper that does not have an author or a date.

Author-Date System

Author-date system is a common practice in natural and social sciences subjects. The author briefly cites sources in parenthesis in the text. In-text citations mention the author’s last name and year of publication. There is a corresponding entry in the reference list for complete bibliographic information for every in-text citation.

How to format your essay in Chicago formatting style?

Do not get confused about the Chicago Manual and Turabian styles. Both styles originate from the Chicago formatting style with minor differences. On one hand, turabian is a simpler style of the Chicago Manual, and it is for those students who are not writing for publication purposes. Turabian version is shorter and contains information about basic formatting and citation rules. Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS), on the other hand, is for those who want to publish their papers. Academic writers, editors and publishers most commonly use it. While turabian style is helpful for your class assignments, CMOS helps you in publications. Now, let’s take a look at the general Chicago formatting style.

General Formatting Guidelines

  • Double-space the entire text except for block quotations, notes, bibliography, table titles, and figure captions
  • Use 12 point Times New Roman font
  • Use 1-inch margins or larger
  • Indent the paragraphs by ½ inch
  • Page numbers should be in the top right or bottom centre
  • Every new paragraph should begin with a ½ inch indent
  • Align the text to the left and not justified
  • The right margin should look ragged

Major Paper Sections

Title Page

As per the Turabian style, you can insert a separate title page for class papers or write the title on the first page of the text. You can use the following guidelines for the title page:

  • Centre-align your title page text and double-space it
  • Write your title page in the same format as the rest of the text
  • Insert the title about one-third to halfway down the page
  • Capitalize the title and make it bold
  • If you want to insert a subtitle, insert a colon after the title. Write it in bold and with the same size as the main title
  • Your name, student code, course name, course code, and date should appear about two-third to halfway down the page
  • Each piece of information should begin with a new line
  • The title page does not have a page number

Main Body

  • Capitalize the title in the text, notes and bibliography
  • Capitalize the title in headline style
  • Then capitalize the first word of titles and subtitles. If there are any important words afterwards, then capitalize them
  • Keep a standard format to present the same level of headings
  • Higher-level headings should look different from the text
  • Increase the font size for chapter headings, while highlight the section headings in bold form
  • Use italics for subheadings

Block Quotes

Do not use quotations marks for prose quotations that consist of five or more lines or more than 100 words. The same goes for poetry quotations of two or more lines. Write them separately as block quotes. You can use the following guidelines for block quotes:

  • Do not use quotation marks for block quotes
  • Separate the block quotes from the surrounding text by inserting a blank line
  • Indent the block quotes by a half inch
  • Do not double-space the block quotes

Number and acronyms

Use words for numbers lower than 100 to write them down and avoid using numerals. For example, write “eighty-seven” instead of 87. If you refer to a specific measurement or decimals, use numerals for them, such as 10 cm or 1.5. Introduce the acronyms the first time you refer to an abbreviation; write the complete form. For example:

MLA( Modern Language Association) guides that……

After this, you can write the acronym alone during the entire text. Do not write acronyms or numbers at the beginning of a sentence.

Footnotes and Endnotes

  • Insert footnotes at the bottom of the page where the references are aligned with a superscript number
  • Endnotes appear on a separate page just before the bibliography
  • You can insert the footnote and endnote in MS Word automatically
  • For essay texts, you should put the note number at the end of the sentence, even if the reference is at the beginning of the sentence
  • Note number comes after punctuations
  • Use Arabic numerals for footnotes
  • Indent the first line of each note
  • There should be a single space for each entry
  • You should use double spaces between entries
  • Always use a new number for each reference
  • If you want to cite multiple sources in a single note, separate them with a semicolon

Bibliography

  • Insert bibliography on a separate page
  • The title of bibliography should be in Times New Roman 12 point font at the centre of the page