What is Chicago Referencing

What is Chicago referencing?

The Chicago referencing style was developed by the Chicago University Press, 1906. It is also called an “author-date” system and gives complete details of the author, including name and year of publication. It incorporates rules of grammar and punctuation common in American English. Based on the matter of subject and the nature of sources cited, Chicago style is presented in two documentation systems:

  • Notes and Bibliography
  • Author date


  • Notes and Bibliography:


This style is preferred in the subjects of humanities, literature, history and the arts. Bibliographic information is presented in notes and, mostly in a bibliography. It accommodates a large number of sources, including the esoteric ones, that are not appropriate to the author-date system. It is one of the two different types of referencing styles, outlined in the Chicago Manual of Style, 16th edition. It is also known as Chicago 16 A.


  • Author date:


The author-date system is used in the physical, natural and social sciences. In author-date system, the sources are briefly cited in the text, with complete information about the author including, author’s last name and date of publication. These short citations are amplified in the reference list, where full bibliographic information is provided.



What are the main features of the Chicago referencing style:

Following are the main features of the Chicago referencing style:

  1. Footnotes:

Footnotes are used for the indication of a citation. A superscript number is placed to indicate a footnote within the text. The same number is repeated at the beginning as well as, at the bottom of the page in the full size and followed by a full stop. If more than one authors are being cited, always cite in full for the first time and subsequently shortened to first author et al.



  1. Formatting citations in footnotes:

Punctuation and the order of elements in the citation are important. The name of the author is not inverted and written in full. The details of publication of books are enclosed in brackets. Titles are enclosed in double quotation marks. The first line of each footnote is written after two spaces from the page margin.


  • Bibliography/Reference list:

The sources are cited alphabetically and consulted for the assignment. The information cited varies for different types of sources. The reference list should be started from the second line if there are two or more lines. The surname or family name of the author appears first and the first name is inverted. The sections of the citations are separated by full stops. The details of publication are not enclosed in brackets.


  1. Punctuation:

 Footnotes and references should always end with a full stop. Subscript numbers are      placed after punctuation. The title of the source should always be in capitalized form. Abbreviations which are accepted should be used. Example, chap. for chapter, ed/eds. for editors.

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