How a Chicago-Style Paper Should Be Formatted

Tutors expect papers to be correctly structured and formatted and, of course, this also applies to the Chicago writing style. It is best to apply the right settings from the start to save you having to go back and do lots of retrospective formatting. Here is a guide on the Chicago style to get you started:    

General Page Structure

  • Leave a one-inch margin on all sides.

  • Use 12pt Times/Times New Roman font.

  • Type all text in double-spacing.

  • Text should only be justified against the left-hand margin, leaving the right-hand side with a ragged edge. Do not justify text at both margins e.g. in the writing style of a newspaper.

  • Indent the first line of each paragraph by a half inch, use block quotes and hanging indents e.g. bibliography-style.

  • Page numbering should appear in the upper, right corner of the page, starting at the first page. It is recommended that writers include their surname in case pages become separated. All pages should be numbered right the way through from the first page of text to the last page of the bibliography, but don’t include any spare pages at the end of the essay in your page count. A paper with five pages may also require a title page, two pages worth of notes and a one-page bibliography. 

  • Tutors will advise whether double-sided printing is acceptable.

The Title/Cover Page

Many students wonder, “what is Chicago style writing and how should the title page be formatted?” Here are some tips for creating a title page:

  • Essay title should be centered halfway down the page in the middle.

  • Writer’s name should be centered directly beneath the title.

  • Tutor’s name, course name and date should be centered and displayed on separate lines at the end of the page.

  • Title page should be typed in 12pt Times or Times New Roman font. Avoid decorating the title page with underlining, bold or fancy fonts. 

  • Title page should not have a page number and it should not be included in the overall page count.

Essay Paper Structure

  • Title or cover page

  • Body parts

  • Appendix, if required

  • Note(s) Section

  • Bibliography

Naming and Numbering

  • Spell the names of people, organizations and/or legislative references out in full the first time they are used. When referring to organizations, put the abbreviated form/acronym in parenthesis when using the fully spelt out name the first time e.g. North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO).

  • People can be referred to by their last names after the first reference to them (using their full name) and organizations/legislation by their acronyms.

  • With the Chicago writing format, numbers under 100 can be spelt out in full.

Endnotes and Footnotes 

  • Footnotes should be placed at the end of any page that contains references while endnotes should be placed in a separate section at the end of the body text. The same formatting rules apply to both.

  • Put the number of the note at the end of the relevant sentence.

  • Note numbering should be placed after the end-of-sentence punctuation.

  • Notes should be numbered as 1, 2, 3, 4, etc. rather than roman numerals e.g. i, ii, iii, iv.

  • Use the word ‘Notes’ at the top of the endnotes page – not ‘Endnotes’ - in 10pt Times or Times New Roman font.

  • Use single-spacing for each note entry with double-spacing between different entries.

  • The first line of every note should be indented.

  • Do not reuse numbers – give every reference a new number, even if the reference was previously used.

  • Use shortened versions of repeatedly used sources.

  • Use a semicolon to separate individual citations where several sources apply to one note. Do not use more than one note number at the end of sentences. 


  • Bibliographies in this writing style should start in a new section. Use 12pt Times or Times New Roman font with the title ‘Bibliography’ in the center of the top of the page. 

  • Make sure you apply proper bibliography Chicago writing style formatting.

  • The first line of each citation should have a "hanging indent" e.g. first line starts at the margin with the following lines indented.

  • If there is no author for a source, reference these in alphabetic order by title within the list of authors.

  • Unless requested, do not distinguish between primary sources and secondary ones.  

Try to avoid the following common mistakes:

  • In-text Chicago writing format requires first and surname while bibliography format requires surname and then first name.

  • Use new numbers for every citation – numbers should not be reused.

  • Pay careful attention to indentation. First line indentation for notes and hanging indentation for bibliographies.  

  • Bibliographies should list authors alphabetically or, where no author exists/or is known, by title. Notes should be listed and numbered in the order you use the sources.  

  • With the Chicago writing style, bibliographies should not be titled ‘Works Cited’ – this is the MLA formatting style.