Chicago Style: Notes and In-Text Citations

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Researchers include brief citations in their writing to acknowledge references to other people’s work. They want to make sure that they give credit to the research of others, show readers that their work is credible, and help readers find the research they used if they want to learn more. For research in the humanities, Chicago generally uses either footnotes or endnotes (or sometimes both) to give credit in the text.

In this guide, you’ll learn more about notes (Chicago note citation), how to format them, and what to do when complex situations arise.


Footnotes vs Endnotes

Your instructor might tell you to use footnotes or endnotes. If not, the Turabian manual suggests using footnotes because they are easier to read (Turabian 16.3.1). Ultimately, it comes down to personal preference. Footnotes are located at the bottom of each page, so it is easy for the reader to check citations as they come across them. Endnotes are located at the end of a chapter or at the end of the book. This makes the pages look cleaner, but forces the reader to flip back and forth to look at the citations. If your footnotes are long with lots of commentary, endnotes may be a better choice.


Referencing Notes in the Text

Every time you use information from a source, you must include a note in your text. These notes are indicated with superscript numbers that point the reader to a footnote or endnote that gives information about the source. 

Note citations are:

  • Indicated by a superscript numeral in the text
  • Listed in the footnote/endnote in standard font size
  • Numbered consecutively
  • Placed at the end of a sentence/clause
  • Placed after quotation marks and punctuation…
  • …Except dashes, where they are placed before
  • Single-spaced within the notes with a blank line between each note

 

Here’s an example:

Great efforts have been put forth to save giant pandas in recent decades. The Chan Foundation for Panda Livelihood contributed over $20,000 to the San Diego Zoo last year to ensure that its Panda Cam would operate 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.1 President Daniel Chan said, “Now people from all over the world can see the fascinating behavior of pandas, such as eating bamboo and sleeping whenever they want.”2

Example of corresponding notes:

1. Daniel Chan, My Philanthropic Life: Helping the World Through Panda Rescues (New York: Scribner, 2012), 123.

2. Michele Kirschenbaum, “How One Man Saved Many Pandas,” Journal of Animal News 67, no. 2 (Spring 2014): 12.

Notes typically include the page(s) cited as the final element of the citation, unless there is a URL, which comes after the page(s) cited. Also, there should only be one reference  per location. If you need to cite more than one source for a sentence, include these citations in the same note. For more information on the formatting of notes, see CMOS 14 and Turabian 16.3.4.


Complex Notes and How to Deal With Them

Notes can include more information than just a citation, or more than one citation. These can be tricky so here are some tips. 

If you want to reference multiple sources to support one idea, you can do these all in one note. Build your first citation, then instead of a period at the end, use a semicolon and build your next citation. You can continue doing this for as many sources as you need to cite (CMOS 14.57 and Turabian 16.3.5.1). Before your final citation, include the word “and” after the semicolon. Here’s an example: 

1. Daniel Chan, My Philanthropic Life: Helping the World Through Panda Rescues (New York: Scribner, 2012), 123; Michele Kirschenbaum, “How One Man Saved Many Pandas,” Journal of Animal News 67, no. 2 (Spring 2014): 12; and Tom Madison, Pandas Everywhere (Durham: Duke University Press, 2020), 89.

If your note includes both a citation and information or commentary, give the citation first and end it with a period. Then add your comment in a new sentence, like this:

1. Tom Madison, Pandas Everywhere (Durham: Duke University Press, 2020), 89. Madison is a great source for learning about pandas and their impact on nature.


Shortened Notes

Another option you have for notes is using shortened notes. You may use shortened notes if you are providing a full bibliography along with your paper. If you choose to do this, you don’t have to provide full citations in the notes. 

A shortened form usually consists of: 

  • The author’s last name
  • a shortened title
  • the page(s) cited 

This gives the reader enough information to find the source’s full citation in your bibliography. For more information on shortened note forms, check out our guide on Chicago style footnotes, or see CMOS 14.29 and Turabian 16.4.1.


Citation Examples

Here are a few examples to help you get started with building citations for your paper. These examples cover some of the most common citation forms you will encounter: books, journal articles, website material, online videos, and social media posts. 

Check out our other Chicago guides for more examples and information about these and other types of citations.  


BOOK


Note: Stuart Clark, Vanities of the Eye: Vision in Early Modern European Culture (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007), 111-12.

 

Shortened note:

 

Clark, Vanities, 118.

 

Full citation: Clark, Stuart. Vanities of the Eye: Vision in Early Modern European Culture. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2007.


JOURNAL ARTICLE


Note: Robert E. Alvis, “The Modern Lives of a Medieval Saint: The Cult of St. Hedwig in Twentieth-Century Germany,” German Studies Review 36, no. 1 (2013): 16, JSTOR.

 

Shortened note:

 

Alvis, “Modern Lives,” 18.
Full citation: Alvis, Robert E. “The Modern Lives of a Medieval Saint: The Cult of St. Hedwig in Twentieth-Century Germany.” German Studies Review 36, no. 1 (2013): 1-20. JSTOR.


WEBSITE


Note: “What We Do,” Creative Commons, accessed May 1, 2020, https://creativecommons.org/about/.

 

Shortened note:

 

Creative Commons, “What We Do.”
Full citation: Creative Commons. “What We Do.” Accessed May 1, 2020. https://creativecommons.org/about/.


ONLINE VIDEO


Note: Sarah Klein and Tom Mason, “The Sound of Gravity,” New York Times, April 28, 2020, video, 13:02, https://www.nytimes.com/video/opinion/100000006819172/the-sound-of-gravity.html.

 

Shortened note:

 

Klein and Mason, “Gravity,” at 9:05-10:11.
Full citation: Klein, Sarah, and Tom Mason. “The Sound of Gravity.” New York Times, April 28, 2020. Video, 13:02. https://www.nytimes.com/video/opinion/100000006819172/the-sound-of-gravity.html.

 


SOCIAL MEDIA


Note: EasyBib, “Stop plagiarism before it happens! Try these 5 steps (and EasyBib.com) to help you prevent plagiarism as you write,” Facebook, November 24, 2019, https://www.facebook.com/easybib/posts/10157446614665202?__tn__=-R.

 

Shortened note:

 

EasyBib, “Stop plagiarism.”
Full citation: EasyBib. “Stop plagiarism before it happens! Try these 5 steps (and EasyBib.com) to help you prevent plagiarism as you write.” Facebook, November 24, 2019. https://www.facebook.com/easybib/posts/10157446614665202?__tn__=-R.

Bibliography:

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2017. https://doi.org/10.7208/cmos17.

Turabian, Kate L. A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 9th ed. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2018.  


Published April 4, 2014. Updated May 14, 2020.

Written by Janice Hansen. Janice has a doctorate in literature and a master’s degree in library science. She spends a lot of time with rare books and citations.

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