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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


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Author-Date System Basics

In the author-date references system (a.k.a., reference list style), you signal that you've used a source by placing a parenthetical citation including author, date, and relevant page numbers, next to your reference to it in your paper.

At the end of your paper, you list all sources in a References list, that includes every source you cited in a parenthetical citation and sometimes others you consulted but did not cite. Each reference list entry includes complete identifying information for a source, since parenthetical citations do not. All reference list entries have the same general form.


Overview of the Author/Date References System and Sample Paper:

Examples of Citations

Examples of Common Sources:

Examples of Less Common Sources:

Parenthetical Citations (CMS, Chapter 15)

Purpose of Parenthetical Citations:

Citing within the text of your paper signals that you have used outside information or new ideas. Parenthetical citations include enough information so that your reader can find the full citation in your reference list at the end of your paper. Your parenthetical citations serve as pointers to the full source information on your reference list.


  • Your parenthetical citation should include the author’s last name, the publication date, and (if you're citing a specific passage) the page number or other locating information of the source.
  • You should not put a comma between the author's last name and the date.
  • Do put a comma between the date and page number or other locating information.


  • Place a parenthetical note in your paper where you would put a reference number for a footnote or endnote: at the end of a quotation, sentence, or clause. You must include an in-text citation for every citation in your cumulative reference list at the end of your paper. 
  • Your parenthetical comes before any comma, period, or other punctuation mark when the quotation is run into the text.
  • With a block quotation the in-text citation follows the terminal punctuation mark.


Direct Quote Example:

The quote below appears exactly as it does in Joanna Santa Barbara's article on child-rearing in the Encyclopedia of Violence Peace and Conflict.

"Adjusted data from seven U.S. surveys between 1968 and 1994 show a decline in approval of disciplinary spanking from 94% to 68%, or 26 percentage points in 26 years" (Santa Barbara 2010, 243).

Paraphrase Example:

This sentence takes the information above and puts it into your own words.

Studies show that Americans are becoming more critical of the concept of spanking children. Between 1968 and 1994 the so-called “approval rating” of spanking children dropped from 94% to 68% (Santa Barbara 2010). 

Summarize Example:

The sentence below distills the main idea of the original information.

Studies have shown that Americans just don't approve of spanking like they used to (Santa Barbara 2010). 

Reference List Rules (CMS, Chapter 15)

At the end of your paper, you list all of your sources in a reference list. Label this list References. Your reference list must include every source you cited in a parenthetical citation within your text. 

All of your sources (books, articles, Web sites, etc.) are arranged alphabetically by author’s last name. If no author or editor is listed, the title or keyword by which the reader would search for the source may be used instead.

General Rules:

Capitalization (CMS, Chapt. 8): Use headline style for capitalizing titles of works unless they are in a foreign language. This means that you capitalize the first and last words in titles and subtitles, and capitalize all other major words, similar to MLA format.

Punctuation: In reference list entries, separate most elements with periods. End each entry with a period. Be sure to single space after all commas, colons, and periods.

Common Elements:

All entries in the reference list will include the author (or editor, compiler, translator), title, and publication information.

Author: Full name of author(s) or editor as author or corporate/institutional author

Publication year: Immediately follows the author's name making it easy to follow an in-text citation to the corresponding full source in the reference list

Title: Full title of book including subtitle

Editor, compiler, or translator, if any, if listed on the title page in addition to author

Edition (only if not the first edition)

Volume: total number of volumes if you cite an entire multi-volume work as a whole; individual number if you cite a single volume of multivolume work, and title of individual volume if applicable

Series: title and volume number within series if series is numbered

Facts of publication: city and publisher

Page number or numbers (if applicable)

Electronic books consulted online: URL or DOI [digital object identifier], or type of medium (Kindle, etc.)

Electronic books accessed in a library database: include a URL only if the database includes a recommended stable or persistent one with the document. Otherwise, include the name of the database and, in parentheses, any identification number provided with the source. If there is no publication or revision date, include an access date.