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Ready, Set, Cite (Chicago)

This guide covers both the Notes/Bibliography system and Author/Date References System of the Chicago Manual of Style

Citing Sources Matters

When you write a research paper, you use information and facts from a variety of resources to support your own ideas or to help you develop new ones. Books, articles, videos, interviews, and Web sites are some examples of sources you might use.

Citing these sources of information in your work is essential because:

  • It gives credit to the author of the original work who provided you with the information or idea
  • It allows your audience to identify and find the source material in order to learn more about your topic
  • It gives your paper more credibility because it shows you're supporting your arguments with high-quality source. It also helps earn your readers' trust because you're telling your readers the source of your facts so that they can confirm them for themselves
  • It helps you avoid plagiarism

This three-min. video from The Harness Library illustrates why it's important for you to cite your sources. Watch, Learn, and Enjoy!

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What is Chicago Style?

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) is a comprehensive reference for authors, editors, proofreaders, indexers, copywriters, designers, and publishers in any field, though most often used in the humanities and social sciences. You may also hear Chicago style referred to as CMS or Turabian.

For in-depth guidance on using this citation style, refer to any of these books below:

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Your Citation Style Affects Your Paper in Three Places

Whenever you use a citation style (ANY citation style!) you will be governed by that style in three ways:

  1. The general format of the paper. This includes margins, font, page numbers, line spacing, titles, headings, etc.

  2. The bibliography. The bibliography is the cumulative list of all sources used in your research. In Chicago, this is called the Bibliography (if you're using the notes-bibliography system) or  Reference list (if you're using the author-date system). How do you cite a printed book vs. a book found on a database vs. a book found on the Web? 

  3. In-text citation. Citing sources within the body of your paper lets your reader know you're incorporating someone else's words/research/ideas.

Accuracy & Precision

Your citation style presents researchers with a set of strict rules....not vague guidelines.  Accuracy and precision are vital to the citation process. Always check your work carefully to ensure you've followed all conventions, including font styles, capitalization, punctuation, alphabetization, and format concerns.

If you want your readers to trust your citations they need to be complete, accurate, and in  the correct format.