How are Chicago references built and formatted?

This is the first of two chapters about Writing Chicago Bibliographies. To complete this reader, read each chapter carefully and then unlock and complete our materials to check your understanding.   

– Review the concepts of references in the Chicago style

– Explore the difference between reference lists and bibliographies in academic essays

– Demonstrate the formatting rules which create accurate references in the Chicago style

Chapter 1

While there is much technology available to students to help with the mundane (but critically important) task of acknowledging source-based information, no Referencing Management Software is 100% accurate. Any student who wishes to achieve high grades at an English-medium university will therefore have to learn the nuances of whichever referencing style their field, department or tutor requires. In this short two-chapter reader we focus specifically on writing Chicago bibliographies, covering the formatting and display rules of this referencing feature while offering lots of authentic examples for students to copy.

What is a reference?

Whenever a writer wishes to include facts, examples, evidence, ideas, opinions or claims from another author using the Chicago style, they should use superscript numbers (6) to refer to a Endnotes and Footnotes that tells the reader precisely where that information came from. In the below footnote, for example, we can see that the source is titled ‘Guide to Academic Writing’ and is authored by ‘John Dickinson’:

Each such footnote or endnote should have a corresponding reference placed within a list at the end of the essay that provides the reader with further information about that source. In the Chicago style, references and footnotes are conveniently constructed from the same reference elements, although there are small differences in how these elements are ordered and displayed. Before we explore these differences, study the five elements for a printed-book footnote below:

Does the Chicago style use reference lists?

While reference lists might be the most common referencing feature among the various styles, in Chicago that isn’t so. Instead, Chicago prefers that its users (those studying in the arts, history and humanities) order their source references within a bibliography. The key demarcation between these two features is:


  • reference lists contain a list of sources which the author has directly cited (created footnotes or endnotes for) within their text
  • bibliographies contain a list of sources which the author has read to complete their research in addition to those sources the author has directly cited


An example bibliography (or reference list) might look like the following:

How do I build Chicago-style references?

To accurately build a Chicago-style reference for inclusion in your bibliography, you are recommended to follow the below steps:


  1. Identify the source types you wish to reference.
  2. Visit our reader on referencing source in Chicago and find your source type.
  3. Study the number and type of reference elements which are required in that course.
  4. Find the source details for those elements in the source you wish to reference.
  5. Follow the formatting guidelines precisely for that source type (see below).

What are the formatting rules for Chicago-style references?

Referencing styles always have lots of small formatting details that students should follow carefully, usually focussing on aspects such as punctuation, capitalisation, spacing and italicisation. To see this in action for the Chicago style, let’s take a look at how a book with contributing authors is referenced:

What can be seen in this table is that there are eight reference elements required to reference this source type and that special formatting must be applied to the various source details. The Title of chapter, for instance, must take a full stop (.) and be placed within double quotation marks (“”), while the Title of book must be written in italics alongside a comma (,) and after the word ‘In’. Once a writer has correctly formatted their references based on their sources’ types and details, they should next consider how to correctly order and display those items in a Chicago-style bibliography. Keep reading with Chapter 2 for clear guidance about how to do this.

1 of 2 Chapters Completed


Once you’ve completed both chapters in this short reader about Writing Chicago Bibliographies, you might then wish to download our Chapter Worksheets to check your progress or print for your students. These professional PDF worksheets can be easily accessed for only a few Academic Marks.

Chapter 1 explores the topic: How are Chicago references built and formatted? Our Chapter 1 Worksheet (containing guidance, activities and answer keys) can be accessed here at the click of a button. 

Chapter 2 explores the topic: Which rules are for Chicago style bibliographies? Our Chapter 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 Writing Chicago Bibliographies Chapter Worksheets. This All-in-1 Pack includes every chapter, activity and answer key related to this topic in one handy and professional PDF.

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Autumn 2022