How do I write accurate Chicago style footnotes?

This is the second and final lesson about Adding Chicago Footnotes. To complete this course, read each lesson carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.   

– Compare footnotes and references in the Chicago style

– Discuss the importance of reference elements

– Explore the rules of formatting footnotes in Chicago

Lesson 2

In Lesson 1 of this short course on adding Chicago footnotes, we looked at three combinations of reference feature in the Chicago style: citations, endnotes or footnotes and bibliographies. We discussed how sources are cited in Chicago using these features and we explored how to determine which source information should and shouldn’t be cited. In this final lesson on the subject, we next focus specifically on building, arranging, formatting and displaying notes in this style of referencing, offering examples to help guide students through the process.


Are footnotes similar to bibliography references?

As was briefly demonstrated in Lesson 1, footnotes (or endnotes) and bibliography references are very similar in the Chicago style:

Both footnotes and bibliography references offer comprehensive information about the source being cited and are placed outside of the main text – unlike citations.

Why are reference elements important?

Footnotes and references are also both constructed by a writer through the gathering of source details across a number of key reference elements. These elements change depending on the source type being cited. While a conference proceeding might have six elements for example, a book may have four – or a journal article might have six different elements (see our course on referencing sources in Chicago to see the patterns for each source type). This is exemplified in the two figures below. On the left we have the six necessary reference elements for these source types and next to those elements the source details:

How should Chicago footnotes be formatted?

It’s important once students have collected the details of their source that they know how to correctly format those details. This means paying careful attention to rules of capitalisation, punctuation, spacing and italicisation. Some general rules for formatting Chicago-style footnotes are provided for you below:

  • end footnotes with a full stop (.)
  • italicise book, journal and website titles
  • indent the first line of a footnote by 1.3cm
  • use commas to separate reference elements
  • place the authors’ forenames before their surnames
  • use double quotation marks (“”) for article and chapter titles
  • capitalise the first letter of a title only (as well as any proper nouns)

Many of these rules can be seen in the formatted source details for conference proceedings and journal articles below:


Conference Proceedings

  1. Authors’ names: Yijing Zhang; Zilin Zhang | Yiijing Zhang and Zilin Zhang,
  2. Title of paper: Using English in the Classroom | “Using English in the classroom”
  3. Title of conference: 7th Conference on EAP | (paper presented at 7th EAP conference,
  4. Conference place: London, UK | London, UK,
  5. Conference date: 4th to 10th of April | April 4-10,
  6. Publication year: 2019 | 2019).


1 Yijing Zhang and Zilin Zhang, “Using English in the classroom” (paper presented at 7th EAP conference, London, UK, April 4-10, 2019).


Journal Articles

  1. Authors’ names: John Smith | John Smith,
  2. Title of article: An Investigation into Academia | “An investigation into academia,”
  3. Title of journal: Academic Practices | Academic Practices
  4. Volume and issue: Volume 17; Issue 2 | 17, no. 2
  5. Publication year: 1999 | (1999):
  6. Page numbers: page 10 | 10.


1 John Smith, “An investigation into academia,” Academic Practices 17, no. 2 (1999): 10.


Can ‘et al. and ‘Ibid.’ be used?

To help speed up the referencing process somewhat, there are two helpful Latin expressions which can be used in the Chicago style, ‘et al.’ and ‘Ibid.’:


  1. write ‘Ibid.’ (meaning the same) in the footnote instead of the formatted source details if two or more consecutive footnotes are referencing the same source
  2. write ‘et al.’ (meaning and others) in the footnote instead of the authors’ names when there are four or more authors to the source being referenced


Congratulations on finishing this short course on adding Chicago footnotes. Consider unlocking and completing our Lesson 2 Worksheet to check your understanding of this content. Then perhaps visit our short courses on referencing source in Chicago and writing Chicago bibliographies to expand your knowledge of this style of referencing.

2 of 2 Lessons Completed


Once you’ve completed all three lessons in this short course about Adding Chicago Footnotes, you might then wish to download our Lesson Worksheets to check your progress or print for your students. These professional PDF worksheets can be easily accessed for only a few Academic Marks.

Lesson 1 explores the topic: How are sources cited in Chicago referencing? Our Lesson 1 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

Lesson 2 explores the topic: How do I write accurate Chicago style footnotes? Our Lesson 2 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

To save yourself 1 Marks, click on the button below to gain unlimited access to all of our Adding Chicago Footnotes Lesson Worksheets. This All-in-1 Pack includes every lesson, activity and answer key related this topic in one handy and professional PDF.


There are currently no PowerPoint activities, additional teacher resources or audio and video recordings created for this topic. Please come back again next semester.


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