Chicago Style Footnotes – Citations & Examples

18.11.22 Chicago citation & referencing Time to read: 6min

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This piece delves into the intricacies of utilizing the Chicago style footnotes method for academic and scholarly citation. It’s a key tool for students aiming to adopt accurate referencing techniques. To ensure adherence to up-to-date practices, it is imperative that students acquaint themselves with the most recent edition of the Chicago Manual of Style. By doing so, they will gain a comprehensive understanding of the nuances and modifications in the citation style over time.

Chicago Style Footnotes – In a Nutshell

  • Chicago style footnotes are an internationally respected form of academic citation.
  • Chicago style footnotes help reviewers to guard against plagiarism and suggest additional reading if required.
  • It is good practice for students to acquire the habit of using Chicago style footnotes.

Definition: Chicago style footnotes

Chicago style footnotes enable the reader to find the sources used by the author of a text or academic paper. They are also known as the notes-bibliography style, as they are used with a bibliography. When the author refers to a source, a superscript number is inserted. These indicate that the reader should view the citation details in the footnote at the bottom of the page. Full source details can then be found in the bibliography if required.

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Chicago style footnotes – Full and short notes

When Chicago style footnotes are first cited in a text, they may appear in full note style, including the author’s full name, title, and publication details:

Kathryn Tidrick, Heart Beguiling Araby: The English Romance with Arabia (London and New York: Tauris Parke, 1990).

Thereafter they may appear in short form. This may be author-title:

Tidrick, Heart Beguiling Araby, followed by the page number. Alternatively, as author-only: Tidrick, 25.

Ibid.” may be used when you use the same reference right after each other.

Placement of Chicago style footnotes

The details of Chicago style footnotes always appear at the bottom (footer) of the page on which the superscript appears. Microsoft Word provides a toolbar footnote insertion option. This creates a superscript number prompting the user to enter the source information in the footer of the page. Footnotes are generally always placed after punctuation:

Sharples argued in favor of blended learning.

The exception is after a dash (-), in which case the superscript always appears before the punctuation:

Mactavish remained a little-known writer – despite his consistent prize-winning.

Content of Chicago style footnotes

Chicago style footnotes assist the reader in locating sources. If a page number is cited, it should enable the reader to find a passage or quotation. For book titles longer than four words, the complete title is given in the bibliography.

Combining multiple citations

It is not possible to use several superscripts in a row for the same text (e.g. 3,4,5). Multiple sources must be cited in a single footnote by separating them with a semicolon:

“In separate publications, both Carruthers and Johnson concluded that this research was fundamentally flawed”.6

The correct format of the footnote:

6 Carruthers, On Research, 25; Johnson, Common Sense Research, 98.

Sources with one, two, three, four, and more authors

  • For a single author in full form, Chicago style footnotes include author’s name and surname, book title (place of publication: publisher, date):

Long note: Mary Webb, Precious Bane (London: Virago Press, 1978).

Short note: Webb, Precious Bane, or simply Webb, and the page number.

  • Two authors:

Long note: Darian Leader and David Corfield, Why do People get Ill? (London: Penguin Books 2008).

Short note: Leader and Corfield, Why do People?

  • Three authors:

Long note: L. Blaxter, K. Dodd and M.Tight, How to Research (Buckingham: Open University Press, 1996).

Short note: Blaxter, Dodd, and Tight, How to Research.

  • Four or more authors, list the first author, then “et al.”:

Long note: Marsha Levine et al., Late prehistoric exploitation of the steppe (Cambridge: MacDonald Institute for Archaeological Research, 1999).

Short note: Levine et al., Exploitation of the steppe.

Missing information

Some sources, notably websites, may not have the bibliographic data required for Chicago style footnotes. Instead, include the title of the piece followed by its URL or DOI.

If no publication date for a source is known, the letters n.d. (no date) are inserted in the text:

Sarah Johnson, My Life in Norfolk (Norwich: self-published, n.d.).

The abbreviation n.p. can stand for no page number, no publisher, or no place, depending on context:

B. Irwen, Notes on Allendale (Allenheads: n.p, 1880).

When no author is given, “Anonymous” (“Anon”) can be used for a book:

Anon, Memorials of Montrose and his Times (Edinburgh: The Maitland Club, 1851).

Alternatively, the publishing organization of the source may be used instead of the author:

BachelorPrint, Memorials of Montrose and his Times (Edinburgh: The Maitland Club, 1851).

If website or blog author data are missing, the title alone can be included:

Calendar of State Papers Foreign: Elizabeth, Volume 14 (1579-1580), 438, accessed 1 July 2022: papers/foreign/vol14/

When the author is known, a single entry under author suffices in the bibliography.

Chicago style footnotes – Different source types

The following illustrates examples of long and short notes for various source types in Chicago style.

Chicago style footnotes – Book citation

Print form book citation is the same as that of a single author:

Long note: J.M. Roberts, The Triumph of the West (London: BBC, 1985).

Short note: Roberts, Triumph of the West.

Online and digital versions have the same publication details, but not all digital versions have standard pagination. In this case, specify the location by chapter. For online texts, it is useful to add the URL, bearing in mind these can change.

Chicago style footnotes – Chapter citation

In a volume with multiple contributors, the part author is cited first:

Long note: Margot Heinman, “Political Drama” in English Renaissance Drama, ed. A. R. Braunmuller and Michael Hattaway (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1990), 161-206.

Short note: Heinman, “Political Drama”, 161-206.

Chicago style footnotes – Journal citation

To cite a journal article in Chicago style footnotes, list author, article title, journal name (italicized), edition, and date (non-italicized), a colon, and the page number(s):

Long note: Henry J. Blumenthal, “Neoplatonic Elements in the De Anima Commentaries,” Phronesis 21 (1976): 64-87.

Short note: Blumenthal, “Neoplatonic Elements”.

Papers in online journals are frequently accessed by DOI (digital object identifier) rather than URL (uniform resource locator). DOI links are more reliable than URLs since URLs can disappear without warning.

Chicago style footnotes – Website citation

Since websites vary so much in quality, bibliographic information can be hard to extract. Include author wherever possible, thus:

Long note: Phoebe Buckley, “We need to talk about labelling”, Travellers Times (29.3.16)., accessed July 2, 2022.

Short note: Buckley, “We need to talk”.

Chicago style footnotes vs. endnotes

Both, footnotes or endnotes, may be used to cite the work of authors and convey additional information.

Endnotes are placed after the main text and any appendices, but before the bibliography and/or works cited.

Advantage of footnotes Disadvantage
of footnotes
They appear at the bottom of the page, making source checking instantaneous. They are generally in a smaller typeface than the main body of the text. Lengthy footnotes can break the flow of reading
Advantage of
Disadvantage of
Endnotes can convey supporting material in a note that is too lengthy for a footnote Endnotes are not visible on the same page.
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Chicago style footnotes are located on the foot of each page on which the superscript appears, whereas endnote details appear at the end of the book.

Chicago style footnotes do not intrude and are less likely to break the flow of reading than the author-date or “in-text” style, for example: (Seward: 1911). However, in-text is acceptable as an alternative to Chicago style footnotes.