Historians usually use the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS, currently in the 17th edition) to format their bibliographies and notes. While it is possible to format your notes and bibliography by hand, most of us use a citation manager, often Zotero, to help organize their notes.
This guide is designed to get you started with some of the basic types of documents you might need to cite in a paper. Scholars cite to their sources for two main reasons: 1) To acknowledge the material they are drawing on. 2) To provide evidence, allowing readers to follow their research.
There are two Chicago citation formats: notes-bibliography and author-date. Most historians use notes-bibliography, so that's the format described on this page. When using the Chicago Manual of Style or any other citation guide, make sure you follow instructions for notes-bibliography.
Note: You should acknowledge where you got your information whether you quote, paraphrase, or summarize. That means using footnotes in almost every paragraph in your paper except your conclusion. If unsure, ask your librarian or professor.
This page has a lot on it. You can use the following anchors (links down the page) to jump straight to a relevant box.
You might want to start your papers with these sample templates formatted with the appropriate fonts, margins, and spacing for both a paper and a bibliography.
To use Chicago, you need to set up footnotes (at the bottom of the page) and a bibliography at the end.
A footnote (N) is part of the conversation in your text. It tells your reader precisely where you found the information you used. As such, it’s designed to be read aloud:
Note: the author’s name is written first name first and there are commas separating the different parts of the citation. Insert these at the bottom of a page (not in the footer) in Times New Roman, 10pt font, single spaced.
A bibliographic citation (B), in contrast, gives the reader an overview of what sources you used. It is designed to be scanned and parsed quickly:
Note: the author’s name is written last, first and there are periods separating the different components. These are included on a new page after your paper in Times New Roman, 12pt font, single spaced.
The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition (full note) requires you use long form the first time you cite to a text and short form for any subsequent uses.
Long form includes the full note citation, with creator, titles, publication information, and specific page numbers (see specific formats for genres).
Short form includes creator's last name, short title, and specific page numbers. But - if you cite to a text a second time directly after the first, drop the short title (CMS 14.30).
Note: Short titles either take the title before the colon (:) or the first main concepts (CMS 14.33).
Note: If you are familiar with Ibid., work to forget it exists. Chicago, 17th edition dropped it in favor of the shorter short form (CMS 14.34).
To cite to a whole book, you need the book’s author/editor, title, city of publication, publisher, and date (CMS 14.100).
N: Author/Editor, Book Title (City of Publication: Publisher, Date), page#.
N: 3 Stuart Hall, ed., Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices (London: SAGE, 1997), 35.
N: 5 Hall, Representation, 35.
B: Author/Editor. Book Title. City of Publication: Publisher, Date.
B: Hall, Stuart, ed. Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices. London: SAGE, 1997.
Note: For the footnote and the bibliography, the word "editor" is abbreviated as "ed." if they are the first name listed. Pay attention to the change to "edited by" in the book chapter placement.
Particularly with edited volumes, you should cite to specific chapters within a book. To do so, you need the chapter author, chapter title, book title, book editor (if existent), city of publication, publisher, date of publication, and chapter page range (CMS 14.106).
N: Author, "Title of Chapter," in Title of Book, ed. First Last (City of Publication: Publisher, Date), page#.
N: 3 Stuart Hall, “The Spectacle of the ‘Other,’” in Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, ed. Stuart Hall (London: SAGE, 1997), 223.
N: 5 Hall, "Spectable of the 'Other,'" 223.
B: Last, First. "Title of Chapter." In Title of Book, edited by Name, page range. City of Publication: Publisher, Date.
B: Hall, Stuart. “The Spectacle of the ‘Other.’” In Representation: Cultural Representations and Signifying Practices, edited by Stuart Hall, 223–85. London: SAGE, 1997.
Note: When quotation marks appear within quotation marks, the interior set should be sing dashed (') instead of the double (") as you see here with "Other" becoming 'Other.'
For unpublished government documents, set them up like unpublished material, which usually requires giving the title and date of the item, series title (if applicable), name of the collection, and name of the depository (CMS 14.292).
N: Department Name, "Title of Report," Date, location in repository (often file number), Repository, clean URL.
N: 4 Department of Justice, “Excised Report of the Department of Justice Task Force to Review the FBI Martin Luther King, Jr., Security and Assassination Investigations,” January 11, 1977, file 100-106670, section 103, Federal Bureau of Investigation, https://vault.fbi.gov/.
B: Department Name. "Title of Report," Date. Location in repository. Repository. Clean URL.
B: Department of Justice. “Excised Report of the Department of Justice Task Force to Review the FBI Martin Luther King, Jr., Security and Assassination Investigations,” January 11, 1977. File 100-106670, section 103. Federal Bureau of Investigation. https://vault.fbi.gov/.
Note: The title of an unpublished document is not italicized but put in quotation marks.
For published government documents--including legal documents--Chicago officially recommends using the Blue Book. To find an open access guide based on the Blue Book, check out the Indigo Book.
For the Crenshaw’s journal article, the note (i.e., footnotes, N) and the bibliographic citations (B) following these patterns:
N: First Last, “Article Title,” Journal Title Vol#, no. Issue# (Date): page#.
N: 1 Kimberlé Williams Crenshaw, “Race, Reform, and Retrenchment: Transformation and Legitimation in Antidiscrimination Law,” Harvard Law Review 101, no. 7 (1988): 1331.
Notice that 1) most parts of the citation are separated by commas and 2) the page number here should correspond with the exact page(s) you drew your information from and not the entire article.
B: Last, First. “Article Title.” Journal Title Vol#, no. Issue# (Date): page range.
B: Crenshaw, Kimberlé Williams. “Race, Reform, and Retrenchment: Transformation and Legitimation in Antidiscrimination Law.” Harvard Law Review 101, no. 7 (1988): 1331–1387.
Here, 1) most parts of the citation are separated by periods and 2) the page numbers at the end include the full range of the article.
Note: Using Chicago, tiles of a whole thing—like a vinyl record—are put in italics (e.g., Big Mama Thornton). The title of parts of things—like a song on the record—are put in quotation marks (e.g., “Hound Dog”).
Magazines are treated like journal articles for titles but have the volume and issue numbers omitted in favor of a specific day of publication. Page numbers are not necessary but, if included, should be separated from the date by a comma (CMS 14.188).
N: First Last, "Title of Article," Title of Magazine, Day of Publication, Repository, Clean URL.
N: “Opium & Politics,” Time Magazine, November 1, 1937, Time Magazine Archive.
B: Last, First. "Title of Article." Title of Magazine, Day of Publication. Repository. Clean URL.
B: “Opium & Politics.” Time Magazine, November 1, 1937. Time Magazine Archive.
Note: The title is not put in all caps for TIME Magazine.
To cite a map, you should name the cartographer (if known), the map's title or a description, include the scale and size, as well as publication information and current location of the map (CMS 14.237). Include access or revision dates if there is no specific publication date.
N: Cartographer, Title of Map, type of document, size and/or scale, date of publication, Repository, clean URL.
N: Anthony Finley, Map of South America According to the Latest and Best Authorities, map, 53 x 41 cm, 1826, Library of Congress, http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g5200.ct000171.
B: Last, First. Title of Map. Date of publication. Type of document, size and/or scale. Repository. Clean URL.
B: Finley, Anthony. Map of South America According to the Latest and Best Authorities. 1826. Map, 53 x 41 cm. Library of Congress. http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.gmd/g5200.ct000171.
Note: The date placement changes between the notes and the bibliographic citation.
Here, start with the author’s name (if known) and continue with “article title,” newspaper title and specific date (CMS 14.191). If you are drawing on a database with long URLs, include the database name instead of the URL.
N: Author name, "Article Title," Newspaper Title, Date of Publication, Clean URL or Database Name.
N: 5 “At the Corner of Grim and Desperate: Boston Neighborhood Grapples with Opioid Crisis,” Boston Globe, August 13, 2019, ProQuest Historical U.S. Newspapers.
B: Last, First. "Article Title." Newspaper Title, Date of publication. Clean URL or Database Name.
B: “At the Corner of Grim and Desperate: Boston Neighborhood Grapples with Opioid Crisis.” Boston Globe, August 13, 2019. ProQuest Historical U.S. Newspapers.
Note: For this article, the paper did not print the author. If the information is unknown, leave it blank.
For artworks, from photographs to paintings and sculpture, you should include the artist, title, date of creation/completion, and then information about the medium (what is it and how big) as well as location (such as physical Library or Archive). If you consulted the work online, include a clean URL (CMS 14.235).
N: 7 Cort Cornelis, The Battle of Zama, 1600-1790, engraving, 43.7 x 58 cm, Library of Congress, https://www.loc.gov/item/2012645609/.
B: Cornelis, Cort. The Battle of Zama. 1600-1799. Engraving, 43.7 x 58 cm. Library of Congress. https://www.loc.gov/item/2012645609/.
Note: After the creator's name, you can include a note of what kind of artist they are (e.g., sculptor, photographer, etc.).
For website content, you should cite to the specific page you are on and nestle it within the large site. Provide either the last updated or accessed date and finally the legible URL. If there is a clear author, list them first (CMS 14.207).
N: 6 “Opioid Basics,” Drug Overdose, Center for Disease Control and Prevention, accessed March 19, 2020, https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/.
B: Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Opioid Basics.” Drug Overdose. Accessed March 19, 2020. https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/opioids/.
Note: The position of the organization changes between note and bibliographic citation.
Chicago discourages this one, but if necessary you can pull quotations from secondary sources if the original is unavailable. To cite appropriately, one must cite to both the source for the quotation and the secondary work you're pulling from. The form to use follows:
N: [Full citation for quotation], quoted in [Citation for secondary work].
B: [Full citation for quotation]. Quoted in [Citation for secondary work].
The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) uses this example:
N: Louis Zukofsky, “Sincerity and Objectification,” Poetry 37 (February 1931): 269, quoted in Bonnie Costello, Marianne Moore: Imaginary Possessions (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981), 78.
Note: Using Zotero, you will have to edit this citation using the Classic View or do it by hand.
Bibliographies allow you to follow an author's sources backwards in time. By definition, anything cited in a book or article will have been published prior to that book or article.
Citation tracking allows you to move forward in time, following who has cited that book or article since its publication. You can deduce how influential a specific source has been and follow the scholarly conversation around a specific topic.
For additional recommendations, contact your subject liaison (Dr. Bee Lehman) at firstname.lastname@example.org or schedule an appointment with them.