Chicago Style Citation and Documentation - Shorter University


In writing academic research papers there is no more important element than the proper documentation and citation of the sources of your research. Citing sources does a number of things for your paper. Not only does it help you to avoid the pitfalls of plagiarism but it strengthens your paper by demonstrating that you have thoroughly researched and are a well informed authority on your topic whose conclusions should be respected. Perhaps the most important reason to thoroughly document and cite a research paper is that doing so helps advance our knowledge of our subjects by providing guidance about sources to other researchers who can carry on the work and produce new scholarship.


In History the appropriate method of citation is with foot or endnotes in the so called “Chicago Style.” Full information on this method can be found in The Chicago Manual of Style 15th Edition published by the University of Chicago Press1, more abbreviated versions of this method can be found in Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations2, and Mary Lynn Rampolla’s A Pocket Guide to Writing in History.3 Other documentation styles such as the Modern Language Association’s MLA style and the American Psychological Association’s APA style are not preferred for historical research and should only be used when specifically approved by the course instructor. These citation methods tend to disrupt the flow of the text and do not provide as much information in as convenient a form as the Chicago Style nor do they allow for informational notes in which the author can add clarifying material which does not fit into the flow of the body of the paper.

The choice of using end or footnotes for the citations in a paper is, unless specified in the assignment, up to the writer. Footnotes present all the important information at the bottom of the same page as the text to which it refers, enabling the reader to easily look down to determine what source was used or to read the explanatory material in the note. Endnotes leave a clean looking page with only the text of the paper presented and the notes saved to a separate section at the end of the paper and before the bibliography. Modern word processing programs make either style equally easy to use, there is no need to count lines and save space at the bottom of a page for your notes, the program takes care of such things for you.4

The principle of citation is to provide the reader with all of the information necessary to find the original source of the information in the paper. A note starts with the name of the author, the title of the source, its publication information and the exact page on which the information is located. Notes without page numbers are useless to the reader and amount to plagiarism. These are basic examples of notes for commonly used sources take particular note of indentations, punctuation and the use of parentheses.

Simple book citation:

      1Herbert S. Klein, Bolivia, the Evolution of a Multi-Ethnic Society (New York: Oxford University Press, 1982), 318.

Notice that the author’s name is in its natural order followed by a comma, the title is either italicized or underlined and the publication information is enclosed in parentheses. A comma separates the page number from the rest of the note and the note ends with a period.

Two author book:

      2Norman L. Rosenberg and Emily S. Rosenberg, In Our Times: America Since World War II 7th ed. (Upper Saddle River, New Jersey: Prentice Hall, 2003), 368.

Editor as author:

      3Thomas G. Paterson ed., The Origins of the Cold War 2 nd ed. (Lexington, Massachusetts: D. C. Heath Co., 1974), 274.

Author’s book translated by another:

      4Nikita S. Khrushchev, Khrushchev Remembers trans. Strobe Talbot (Boston: Little, Brown and Company, 1970), 639.


      5David W. Phillipson, African Archaeology (Boston: Cambridge University Press, 1983), 418.

Simple journal article citation:

      6Elliott Dyan, “Seeing Double: John Gerson,” American Historical Review vol. 107, no. 1 (2002): 26-54.

E-journal article:

     7Jacquelyn Dowd Hall, “The Long Civil Rights Movement and the Political Uses of the Past,” Journal of American History; Vol. 91 Issue 4, (Mar2005): p1233-1263.


      8Michael Rawson, “Plagiarism: Curricular Materials for History Instructors,” American Historical Association, intro.htm. (Updated: April 26, 2007).

The examples given are for a first reference to a source, second and subsequent citations may be shortened by using only the last name of the author, an abbreviated version of the title (use just enough of the title to clearly identify the source) and the page number.


Historians document their research using a bibliography formatted in the Chicago Style rather than a “Works Cited” page. Where a works cited page typically includes only those sources actually cited in the paper a bibliography includes all works consulted and used in the research for the paper whether they were actually cited or not. In this way a bibliography is a more comprehensive record of the research process. Bibliographies are organized in alphabetical order by the last name of the author, therefore the first item in a bibliographic entry is the author’s name, last name first. The title of the work, and publishing information follow much as in a citation note but the order, format and punctuation are different. Entries themselves are single spaced but there should be an empty line in between entries.

Simple book entry:

Ellis, Steven G. Ireland in the age of the Tudors, 1447-1603 : English expansion and the end of       Gaelic rule London: Longman, 1998.

Notice that Bibliographic entries are neither numbered nor indented as notes are. The first line extends all the way to the margins of the page but second and subsequent lines are indented one half inch from the margins. This is known as a hanging indent and can be easily done by your word processing program.

Two author book:

Fuchida, Mitsuo and Masatake Okumiya. Midway: the Battle that Doomed Japan, the Japanese       Navy’s Story. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press, 2001.

Editor as author:

Eubank, Kieth ed., World War II: Roots and Causes. Lexington, Massachusetts: D. C. Heath and       Company, 1975.

Author’s book translated by another:

Manceron, Claude. Blood of the Bastille. translated by Nancy Amphoux. New York: Simon and       Schuster, 1989.


Frank, Stephen P. Crime, Cultural Conflict, and Justice in Rural Russia, 1856-1914. Berkeley,       California: University of California Press, 1999.

Simple journal article citation:

Friedman, Max Paul. “Anti-Americanism and U.S. Foreign Relations.” Diplomatic History vol. 32,       no. 4 (September 2008): 497-514.

E-journal article:

Hochedlinger, Michael, “Who’s Afraid of the French Revolution? Austrian Foreign Policy and the       European Crisis 1787-1797.” German History vol. 21 Issue 3, (August 2003) p293-318.


Rael, Patrick, “Avoid Common Mistakes in Your History Paper,” Bowdoin College, (Accessed September 16, 2008).

Since precise details of sources vary widely it is impossible to provide examples of all possible notes in a brief guide; students are advised to consult Turabian, or The Chicago Manual for other examples of notes and bibliographic entries that fit specific sources. If you are still not able to determine how to cite and document a given source you should consult the instructor of your course.

Online Style Guides:

Chicago Manual of Style Online (Requires Subscription)

H-net’s “a brief citation guide for internet sources in history and the humanities

Download a printable PDF version of this guide.

Designed by Dr. James M. Scarry
Created 16 September, 2008


  1University of Chicago Press Staff, ed. The Chicago Manual of Style, 15th ed. (Chicago: Universityof Chicago Press, 2003).

      2Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations 7th ed. (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2007).

      3Mary Lynn Rampolla, A Pocket Guide to Writing in History, 5th ed. (Bedford/St. Martins, 2006).

      4Note that no program formats the notes perfectly according to the Chicago Style and some adjustments will be necessary to achieve the correct look.