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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


Use NoodleTools to help you create your citations.

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Two Citation Systems

Chicago style has two different systems of source citations.

  • The first is called, the notes and bibliography system. It uses a series of notes, either footnotes or endnotes or both and a bibliography at the end of the paper. This system is preferred by many writers in literature, history, and the arts.
  • The second is called, the author-date references system. It uses parenthetical author-date references within your paper (in-text citations) and a corresponding reference list. The author-date system is preferred in the sciences and social sciences.

If you're not sure which style to use in your paper, ask your teacher!

Citation Basics

What Do You Cite: 

Cite all outside sources whose ideas, theories, or research influenced your research paper. Specifically you site those sources that you:

  • Quote word-for-word. Indicate every quotation with quotation marks or a block indent
  • Paraphrase  - rewrite using your own words
  • Summarize ideas  - restate the main idea of the source in your own words
  • Use Distinctive ideas - you use an idea, data, or method from any source you consulted

What Don't You Cite:

  • Your original ideas and conclusions
  • Information and ideas that are well-known by your readers and widely accepted to be true, such as basic biographical information about Abraham Lincoln or the dates of World War II.
  • Sayings and proverbs such as "the grass is always greener" or "the way to a man's heart is through his stomach."

Where to Cite:

You need to cite your sources in two places:

  • Within your work at the place where you are incorporating the information, and 
  • In a comprehensive list of all sources you’ve cited throughout the paper. 

What to Include:

For most sources, the information you include in your citation must answer these three questions:

  • Who is responsible for the text or idea? Who wrote, edited, or translated it?
  • What data identify the text? For example, titles, subtitles, volume numbers, edition number, page numbers, URL.
  • Who published it, where, and when?

DOI (Digital Object Identifier)

A digital object identifier (DOI) is a unique alphanumeric string assigned by a registration agency (the International DOI Foundation) to identify content and provide a persistent link to its location on the Internet. The publisher assigns a DOI when your article is published and made available electronically.

CMS recommends that when DOIs are available, you include them for both print and electronic sources. The DOI is typically located on the first page of the electronic journal article, near the copyright notice. The DOI can also be found on the database landing page for the article.

All DOI numbers begin with a 10 and contain a prefix and a suffix separated by a slash. The prefix is a unique number of four or more digits assigned to organizations; the suffix is assigned by the publisher and was designed to be flexible with publisher identification standards.

Not all publications have DOI numbers assigned to them yet. The resources below show you how to find a DOI number and what to do if there is no DOI:


Tips for Citing Sources

Collect the Information You Need

It's important to make sure you collect all the information you need to cite a source as you gather your information so that you won't need to look it up again, so:

  • Take clear, accurate notes about where you found specific ideas
  • Write down the complete citation information for each book, article, etc. you use as you go along
  • Use quotation marks when directly stating another person's words
  • Always credit original authors for their information and ideas

Keep Track of Information About Your Sources

As you explore your topic, you'll discover and read information from many different sources. With each new source, you'll need to decide if you want to use it. To help you make this decision, you'll ask yourself questions about the source like:

  • Who is the author of this source?
  • What is the title of the source?
  • How was the source published?
  • Where did I find this source?
  • When was the source published?

Each of these elements (author, title, publisher, location, publication date) will become part of your citation. As you work, you'll want to keep track of each of these elements so that creating your citations will be easier.