How to Set up a Chicago Style Paper

Chicago Style Paper

Tutors want the written texts they receive to be laid out and formatted in the correct manner. You should find the guidelines below helpful when you are ready to set up a Chicago style paper. It is much better to use the right settings from the start; it will save you having to go back over your paper later to reformat it.


General Layout per Page 

  • Allow a one-inch margin on all sides of the page.
  • Use a 12pt Times/Times New Roman font.
  • Use double-spacing throughout.
  • Left margins should be justified while right margins should be left ragged. Avoid using full justification e.g. newspaper style.
  • Begin paragraphs with a half-inch indentation, bibliography-style (hanging) indentation, and block quotes.  
  • Starting from the first text page, put page numbers in the upper right-hand corner of the page. A good tip is to add your last name as well – in the event pages get separated. Page numbering should run from the first page of the main body to the last page of the bibliography, but avoid including pages after the main text in the total page count. For example, a paper of five pages can also have a cover or title page, two extra note pages and a one-page bibliography, meaning nine pages in total.   
  • Check with your tutor whether two-sided printing is allowed.

Cover/Title Page

  • Paper’s title should be centered mid-way down the page i.e. in the middle.   
  • Writer’s name should be centered immediately after the title.
  • Name of tutor, title of course, block and date should appear on three separate lines, centered at the page end.
  • Use a 12pt Times/Times New Roman font. Avoid embellishing the cover or title page with any decorative fonts e.g. underlining or bold.
  • Title pages should not be numbered or included when calculating overall number of pages.

Assembly Order for a Chicago-Style Paper 

  • Title or cover page
  • Main body
  • Appendix, if required
  • Note pages
  • Bibliography

Naming and Numbering

  • When referring to people, use their full names in your first reference to them. This also applies to the names/titles of any agencies, organizations or legislation – these should be spelt out in full on first use. The acronyms of agencies, organizations, etc. should be placed in parentheses after the first fully spelt-out reference to them e.g. Central Intelligence Agency (CIA).  
  • Once you have used people’s full name for the first time, you can refer to them thereafter by their last names and to agencies, organizations, etc. by their acronyms.
  • Numbers below 100 should be written in full e.g. five, six, seven.

Footnote and Endnote Usage

  • The convention for footnotes is to place them at the bottom of each page where a reference appears. Endnotes are placed on a new page at the end of the paper’s body text. The same formatting rules apply to both.   
  • When working within a paper’s text, place the number of the note at the end of sentences where references are used, even if the reference itself appears at the start of the sentence.
  • Note numbers are placed after any punctuation marks.
  • Use the Arabic numbering system e.g.1, 2, 3 rather than Roman numerals e.g. i, ii, iii.
  • The word ‘Notes’ rather than ‘Endnotes’ should be placed at the beginning of the endnotes page in a 10pt Times or Times New Roman font.
  • All entries should be in single-spacing, with double-spacing between each new entry.
  • Each note’s first line should be indented.
  • Numbers should never be reused. Give each reference a new number, even if that reference was previously used.
  • Use the short version of any sources you refer to repeatedly.
  • When citing several sources in one note, use a semicolon to separate the citations. Two note numbers should not be used at the end of sentences.

Creating a Bibliography

  • Bibliographies should start on a fresh page with the title ‘Bibliography’ placed at the top center of the page in a 12pt Times or Times New Roman font. The heading should not be placed in large or bold fonts.
  • Make sure the formatting is correct – different styles apply to notes and bibliographies.
  • Use "hanging" indents e.g. the first line of a reference starts at the margin and the remaining lines are appropriately indented.
  • Where no author exists for a source, place it alphabetically by title under the authors list rather than in a separate reference list.  
  • Primary and secondary sources should not be separated unless specifically requested.

Common Mistakes

  • Notes use first name/last name format while bibliographies use last name/first name format.
  • Do not re-use note numbers. Give a new number to each reference.
  • Attend carefully to indentation. Use hanging indentation for bibliographies and first line indentation for notes.
  • Bibliographies should be created alphabetically by author or reference title (where no author exists). Notes are numbered and listed according to the order that references appear in a text.
  • Do not place the title ‘Works Cited’ at the top of a bibliography because this style is specific to MLA.
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