This section contains information on The Chicago Manual of Style method of document formatting and citation. These resources follow the seventeenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style, which was issued in 2017.
Contributors: Jessica Clements, Elizabeth Angeli, Karen Schiller, S. C. Gooch, Laurie Pinkert, Allen Brizee, Ryan Murphy, Vanessa Iacocca, Ryan Schnurr
Last Edited: 2018-02-16 12:40:43
As The Chicago Manual of Style is primarily intended as a style guide for published works rather than for class papers, where necessary, CMOS guidelines will be supplemented with information from the student reference, Kate L. Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations (8th ed.), which is largely based on CMOS with some slight alterations and additions.
To see a side-by-side comparison of the three most widely used citation style, including a chart of all CMOS citation guidelines, see the Citation Style Chart.
Please use the example at the bottom of this page to cite the Purdue OWL in CMOS.
General CMOS Guidelines
- Text should be consistently double-spaced, including block quotations, notes, bibliography entries, table titles, and figure captions.
- For block quotations, which are also called extracts:
- A prose quotation of five or more lines, or more than 100 words, should be blocked.
- CMOS recommends blocking two or more lines of poetry.
- A blocked quotation does not get enclosed in quotation marks.
- A blocked quotation must always begin a new line.
- Blocked quotations should be indented with the word processor’s indention tool.
- Page numbers begin in the header of the first page of text with Arabic number 1.
- Subheadings should be used for longer papers.
- CMOS recommends you devise your own format but use consistency as your guide.
- For CMOS and Turabian’s recommendations, see “Headings,” below.
- CMOS recommends you devise your own format but use consistency as your guide.
Supplemental Turabian Style Guidelines
- Margins should be set at no less than 1”.
- Typeface should be something readable, such as Times New Roman or Courier.
- Font size should be no less than 10 pt. (preferably, 12 pt.).
Major Paper Sections
- According to Turabian style, class papers will either include a title page or include the title on the first page of the text. Use the following guidelines should your instructor or context require a title page:
- The title should be centered a third of the way down the page.
- Your name, class information, and the date should follow several lines later.
- For subtitles, end the title line with a colon and place the subtitle on the line below the title.
- Double-space each line of the title page.
- Different practices apply for theses and dissertation (see Kate L. Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, ad Dissertations [8th ed.].
Image Caption: CMOS Title Page
- Titles mentioned in the text, notes, or bibliography are capitalized “headline-style,” meaning first words of titles and subtitles and any important words thereafter should be capitalized.
- Titles in the text as well as in notes and bibliographies are treated with quotation marks or italics based on the type of work they name.
- Book and periodical titles (titles of larger works) should be italicized.
- Article and chapter titles (titles of shorter works) should be enclosed in double quotation marks.
- The titles of most poems should be enclosed in double quotation marks, but the titles of very long poems should be italicized.
- Titles of plays should be italicized.
- Otherwise, take a minimalist approach to capitalization.
- For example, use lowercase terms to describe periods, except in the case of proper nouns (e.g., “the colonial period,” vs. “the Victorian era”).
- A prose quotation of five or more lines should be “blocked.” The block quotation should match the surrounding text, and it takes no quotation marks. To off-set the block quote from surrounding text, indent the entire quotation using the word processor’s indentation tool. It is also possible to off-set the block quotation by using a different or smaller font than the surrounding text.
In Flowers of Freedom: Reframing Political Thought, Rose eloquently sums up his argument in the following quotation:
In a society of control, a politics of conduct is
designed into the fabric of existence itself, into the
organization of space, time, visibility, circuits of
communication. And these enwrap each individual life
decision and action—about labour [sic], purchases, debts,
credits, lifestyle, sexual contracts and the like—in a web
of incitements, rewards, current sanctions and foreboding
of future sanctions which serve to enjoin citizens to
maintain particular types of control over their conduct.
These assemblages which entail the securitization of
identity are not unified, but dispersed, not hierarchical
but rhizomatic, not totalized but connected in a web or
relays and relations. (246)
- Label the first page of your back matter, and your comprehensive list of sources, “Bibliography” (for Notes and Bibliography style) or “References” (for Author Date style).
- Leave two blank lines between “Bibliography” or “References” and your first entry.
- Leave one blank line between remaining entries.
- List entries in letter-by-letter alphabetical order according to the first word in each entry.
- Use “and,” not an ampersand, “&,” for multi-author entries.
- For two to three authors, write out all names.
- For four to ten authors, write out all names in the bibliography but only the first author’s name plus “et al.” in notes and parenthetical citations.
- When a source has no identifiable author, cite it by its title, both on the references page and in shortened form (up to four keywords from that title) in parenthetical citations throughout the text.
- Write out publishers’ names in full.
- Do not use access dates unless publication dates are unavailable.
- If you cannot ascertain the publication date of a printed work, use the abbreviation “n.d.”
- Provide DOIs instead of URLs whenever possible.
- If you cannot name a specific page number when called for, you have other options: section (sec.), equation (eq.), volume (vol.), or note (n.).
Image Caption: CMOS References Page
- Note numbers should begin with “1” and follow consecutively throughout a given paper.
- In the text:
- Note numbers are superscripted.
- Note numbers should be placed at the end of the clause or sentence to which they refer and should be placed after all punctuation, except for the dash.
- In the notes themselves:
- Note numbers are full-sized, not raised, and followed by a period (superscripting note numbers in the notes themselves is also acceptable).
- Lines within a footnote should be formatted flush left. Place commentary after source documentation when a footnote contains both; separate commentary and documentation by a period.
- In parenthetical citation, separate documentation from brief commentary with a semicolon.
- Do not repeat the hundreds digit in a page range if it does not change from the beginning to the end of the range.
For more information on footnotes, please see CMOS NB Sample Paper.
While CMOS does not include a prescribed system for formatting headings and subheads, CMOS makes several recommendations.
- Maintain consistency and parallel structure in headings and subheads.
- Use headline-style for purposes of capitalization.
- Subheadings should begin on a new line.
- Subheadings can be distinguished by font-size.
- Ensure that each level of hierarchy is clear and consistent.
- Levels of subheads can be differentiated by type style, use of boldface or italics, and placement on the page, usually either centered or flush left.
- Use no more than three levels of hierarchy.
- Avoid ending subheadings with periods.
Turabian has an optional system of five heading levels.
Turabian Subheading Plan
Centered, Boldface or Italic Type, Headline-style Capitalization
Centered, Regular Type, Headline-style Capitalization
Flush Left, Boldface or Italic Type, Headline-style Capitalization
Flush left, roman type, sentence-style capitalization
Run in at beginning of paragraph (no blank line after), boldface or italic type, sentence-style capitalization, terminal period.
Here is an example of the five-level heading system:
Image Caption: CMOS Headings
Tables and Figures
- Position tables and figures as soon as possible after they are first referenced. If necessary, present them after the paragraph in which they are described.
- For figures, include a caption, or short explanation of the figure or illustration, directly after the figure number.
- Cite the source of the table and figure information with a “credit line” at the bottom of the table or figure and, if applicable, after the caption. The credit line should be distinguished from the caption by being enclosed in parenthesis or written in different type.
- Cite a source as you would for parenthetical citation, and include full information in an entry on your Bibliography or References page.
- Acknowledge reproduced or adapted sources appropriately (i.e., photo by; data adapted from; map by . . . ).
- If a table includes data not acquired by the author of the text, include an unnumbered footnote. Introduce the note by the word Source(s) followed by a colon, then include the full source information, and end the note with a period.
How to Cite the Purdue OWL in CMOS
Contributors’ names and the last edited date can be found in the orange boxes at the top of every page on the OWL.
Footnote or Endnote (N):
1. Contributors’ Names, “Title of Resource,” List the OWL as Publishing Organization/Web Site Name, last edited date, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/02/.
1. Jessica Clements, Elizabeth Angeli, Karen Schiller, S. C. Gooch, Laurie Pinkert,Allen Brizee, and Vanessa Iacocca, “General Format,” The Purdue OWL, last edited date, https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/02/.
Corresponding Bibliographical Entry (B):
Name, Contributor 1, Contributor 2 Name, and Contributor 3 (etc.) Name. “Title of Resource.” List the OWL as Publishing Organization/Web Site Name. Last edited date. http://Web address for OWL resource.
Clements, Jessica, Elizabeth Angeli, Karen Schiller, S. C. Gooch, Laurie Pinkert, Allen Brizee, and Vanessa Iacocca. “General Format.” The Purdue OWL. Last edited date. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/02/.
Author Date In-text Citation:
(Clements et al. 2017).
Author Date References Page Citation:
Contributor 1 LastName, Contributor 1 FirstName, Contributor 2 Name, and Contributor 3 Name. Year of Publication. “Title of Resource.” List the OWL as Publishing Organization/Web Site Name. Last edited date. http://Web address for OWL resource.
Clements, Jessica, Elizabeth Angeli, Karen Schiller, S. C. Gooch, Laurie Pinkert, Allen Brizee, and Vanessa Iacocca. 2017. “General Format.” The Purdue OWL. Last edited October 12, 2017. https://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/717/02.
MLA, APA, & CMS: How to Properly Format Your Papers
Knowing the Styles and When to Use Them
In academic writing, how you present your information (technically) is often seen as important as the ideas you are putting forth. Proper citing, quoting and referencing of source material allows you to convey your breadth of research in a language commonly shared by others in your discipline. Giving others a chance to review and compare your work under these established guidelines enables your instructors to better see the work on its own merits, opposed to getting sidetracked by technical inefficiencies.
You MUST follow the rules like every other student: this is not an area where you want to stand out for doing things your own way. Writing for any academic purpose carries with it certain expectations and formatting consistencies, and a failure to properly understand how or why you cite your sources in a specific way can have negative effects on your written projects and communications.
The Big Three: APA, MLA, and CMS
There are three main "Schools of Style" used to properly format an academic paper, referred to as APA, MLA, or CMS.
- APA style: These are the official guidelines put forth by the American Psychological Association, now in its sixth edition. This is the preference of the social sciences, so if you are studying sociology, psychology, medicine, or social work you are going to know APA style.
- MLA style: The Modern Language Association provides guidelines you will be familiar with if you are focused on the Humanities: so artists, English majors, and theatre students will know MLA as they have used this style now for more than half a century.
- CMS style: These are the style guidelines put forth in the Chicago Manual of Style, now in its 16th edition. CMS style is predominantly seen in the humanities, particularly with literature students and those who study advanced segments of history and/or the arts.
While these formatting methods will share many characteristics such as margins and spacing, how they attribute references to source materials is the main differentiator. For example, APA lists "references" while MLA calls the same thing "works cited" - a small but important distinction that might actually affect your grade.
Typically, you are going to use one style for most of your classes and communications, but there is certainly the possibility that you'll need to know how to use any one of these three common styles. The good news is it is not hard to get up-to-speed on any one of them and use them properly.
Get the Latest Updates
Regardless of which style you are using, it is imperative to get the most recent version of the guidelines to ensure your paper is as accurate as it can be. Each of the sources have updated their guidelines multiple times over the years, so working with the current standards is goal one.
APA and MLA are the most common styles to use, but CMS is not unheard of - just not as common for undergrads. CMS is commonly used in traditional book publishing and academic publishing situations, so if you are doing post-graduate writing, it is good to know.
The main thing that seems to be changing in the rules for all of them is about the proper attribution of web-related sources, so you are going to want to re-check that you are working from the most recent versions of whichever style guide you need.
Beware the Pitfalls
The common mistakes being made in properly styling citations and references might be as simple as not downloading the most recent updates; however, it may also be a case where students are simply not understanding how to infuse referencing properly.
Common APA Mistakes
"One of the most common mistakes I see," stated Professor John Long, who has studied social science and has taught health care administration and career development at a college level for various universities for more than five years, "are errors in properly citing web references." Professor Long and his students - being in the social sciences - have never used anything except APA style. He is currently working on his own education specialist degree (Ed.S.) now at U of Missouri, which is half way to the Doctor of Education (Ed.D.) degree.
He continues: "While some common APA formatting errors may be issues due to changes in updated guidelines (APA 5 vs. APA 6), there are other, perhaps more common instances where a student fails to properly reference the source materials within writing assignments. This is particularly true when citing content from the Internet. Understanding how to properly reference and cite source materials adds power to any student paper, because the papers can be used to show a proper understanding and blending of source ideas - a critical concept in higher learning."
"Some of the changes to the guidelines seem very dubious and meticulous," he continues, "but standards are there so an evaluator can assess the weight of the material without bias. Many of my students might complain about it, but the ones that succeed are the ones who are actively trying to use citing resources to their own argument's advantage."
Common MLA Mistakes
APA students are not the only ones who have common mistakes in formatting - as evidenced by the following insight offered from Dr. Margaret Walters of Kennesaw State University, where she and her students have used primarily MLA guidelines in their writing, editing and literature classes. Dr. Walters has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate level writing courses at Kennesaw State University for over 15 years.
Dr. Walters said, "The most common problems I see with MLA style occur in the writing, meaning the text itself, not the bibliography or Works Cited...though there are often some problems to address there, too. In the text, the most common problems are:
- putting a period before and sometimes after the parenthetical citation, as in: ".... and this point is made early on." (Smith 127).
- placing the closing quotation mark after the citation in parenthesis instead of after the quote: " .... and this point is made early on (Smith 127)".
- placing quotation marks inside commas and periods instead of after them: Smith tells us that among the most important rules are the ones regarding use of commas", yet he does not explain how this happens". (127) [those writing British English use the opposite rule--quotation marks inside end punctuation]."
Dr. Walters continued: "In the Works Cited, the most common MLA-related problems are:
- not alphabetizing (even though this is the easiest rule to follow)
- mixing up MLA and APA style; e.g. using initials for first names when MLA says use full first names and middle initials
- leaving off the place of publication - it should be New York: Penguin, 2009 but will instead say Penguin, 2009
- not knowing rules for using quotations marks or when to underline/italicize
"Students get it right most of the time," Dr. Walters states. "I think the underlying problem is an unwillingness to use the style sheets, handouts, or even the MLA handbook. If they use the resources offered, most students are not going to struggle to meet the guidelines."
Get More Help
Both Dr. Walters and Professor Long advise students to use strong and verifiable resources to make your formatting job easier. Both instructors advise checking out the OWL (Online Writing Lab) Resources offered by Purdue in addition to the links to the sites listed above.
The writing center at your own university may hold lots of great information and people to help you understand what to do in each situation you face. Not every situation calls for the same style guide, so checking with the experts on your campus is always a smart idea.
For a quick reference, you can also use the handy visual aids created by Capital Community College on MLA and APA styled papers: (http://www.ccc.commnet.edu/library/citing.htm) or look at the MLA vs. APA comparison chart created by the University Writing Center at Appalachian State University.
The Bottom Line
The reality is, depending on your discipline, there may be only one type of style that you need to use, ever. However, this is not saying the rules for how to properly cite resources and references is not going to continue to change and evolve over time. You will be held responsible for being current.
As a student or in post-college academic writing, you want your work to shine and to always show your best efforts. This means checking on the rules to properly style and format your papers. Use the links and information above to help ensure you are forever properly dotting your I's and crossing your T's according to the latest and greatest rules.