Three Quick Tips for Citing Chicago-Style Sources

Even editors have to look up all of the particulars for how to cite sources according to the Chicago Manual of Style. Here are three quick, easily memorizable tips for using the notes and bibliography citation system so you can save some time on your references. 

1. Use commas in the notes and periods in the bibliography.

Use commas in the notes and periods in the bibliography. Each footnote will end with a period, but commas will separate each element of the citation. On the other hand, use periods to separate the elements in each entry of the reference page. I like to think that the notes are ongoing (hence, commas), and the bibliography is final (so, periods). 

2. Remember ATS.

You can remember the general order for bibliography entries this way: author, title, source (ATS). While there are variations within these components that get confusing, remembering these three is an excellent starting point. Make sure that your first draft has these components, and you can fine-tune each piece later. 

3. Use the full version once and the short version after that.

In your footnotes, use the full version once and the condensed version every time after that. The full version of the citation includes the author’s first and last name, the full title of the work, and the source information, including the journal, publisher, and year. It should also include the page number.

After the first version, include only the author’s last name, a short, unique version of the title, and the page number.

(Quick tip within a quick tip: I keep a separate document with each title and its corresponding short version. Doing so helps me remember, for example, to refer to Taking the Lead: New Roles for Teachers and School-Based Coaches as Taking the Lead and not New Roles.)

If you’ve worked with previous versions of the Chicago Manual of Style, please note that this guideline, in the 17th edition, has changed. You no longer use “et al.” and instead use the shortened version for every footnote except the first.

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