How to Write Bibliography for a Project in Chicago Style

chicago style bibliographyOrganizing your bibliography in the Chicago format can be challenging. After writing a 30-page research paper, essay or thesis, you certainly don’t want to spend another couple of hours struggling with adding bibliography in the Chicago format only to realize at the end, you’ve done it wrong.

There are two documentation systems presented by the Chicago Manual: author-date and notes & bibliography. Selecting one usually depends on the matter of your subject and nature of your sources. Note that the two systems are different. The style targeting bibliography is commonly used in literature, arts and history because it offers bibliographic information. Even though learning how to write bibliography for a project seems a little tedious, it can be done perfectly by adhering to several, very basic guidelines.


The bibliography should be placed on a new page (numbered) at the end of your paper. The new page must be labeled “Bibliography” (plain text, centered, single spaced) and then make sure each new entry is double spaced. Sources should be added in alphabetical order following the last name of the author (s).


The first citation line must not be indented. However, all other additional lines must be ½ inches. Use a hanging indent to do this. In Microsoft Word, you can find it under “Page Layout” in the main menu. All you have to do is click “Page Layout”, go to the Indent section and click on the arrow next to “Paragraph”. The indentation should be “by 0.5 inches”.

Chicago Style – Writing Bibliography Correctly

Now that you know how to number pages and indentations, you can move to writing the bibliography in the Chicago style.

  • In case the publication you have cited only has one author, you should write the last name first, followed by a comma. Then move onto the first name. If there’s also a middle name, make sure to write only the initials. (e.g.: Smith, John T.)
  • In case the publication cited has two or more authors, the name rules apply, only you’ll have to add a comma after each author. However, keep the order of the authors in the source cited. Whichever name comes first, it should be the first in your bibliography as well (e.g.: Smith, John T., Vaughn, Michael L. and Ferguson, Linda).

If you’re using a source that doesn’t have an author, you should never add “anonymous” when writing the bibliography in the Chicago style. Instead, you are advised to use the periodical’s name (newspaper or journal). When including books with second, third, fourth editions, these should be abbreviated (e.g.: 7th ed).

Citing Titles in Chicago

When citing titles in the Chicago style for a bibliography, you should capitalize only the first letter of the most important words. Capitalizing conjunctions (“but”, “and”, “or”) and prepositions (“a”, “an”, “the”) should be avoided unless the paper begins with either a conjunction or preposition. Titles must be formatted in either quotation marks or italics, depending on the source type.

  • Issue numbers & volume are required solely when citing articles from journals. The volume should be listed with numerals, following a comma and the abbreviation “no” following an issue number. (e.g.: 47, no. 8)
  • Dates should have the following format: month, day and year. (e.g.: June 16, 2016)
  • For the pages, you should only use numerals. (e.g.: 47-74)

When citing websites, you should include the website’s address that leads to the referenced document directly. If writing bibliography in the Chicago style seems too overwhelming, why not use the Free Citation Generator, a tool that makes citing sources a lot easier?

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