Skip to main content
It looks like you're using Internet Explorer 11 or older. This website works best with modern browsers such as the latest versions of Chrome, Firefox, Safari, and Edge. If you continue with this browser, you may see unexpected results.
How to format a Chicago-style paper
Your teachers expect to receive papers that are properly formatted and laid out. Use the following guidelines when setting up your paper. It is easiest if you use the correct settings from the beginning; otherwise you will have to go back and reformat your paper.
Overall page layout
- One inch margins on sides, top and bottom.
- Use Times or Times New Roman 12 pt font.
- Double-space the text of the paper.
- Use left-justified text, which will have a ragged right edge. Do not use fully (newspaper-style) justified text.
- Use a 1/2" indent for paragraph beginnings, block quotes and hanging (bibliography) indents.
- Number the pages in the top right corner of the paper, beginning with the first page of text. It's a good idea to include your last name as well, in case pages become separated. Number straight through from the first text page to the final bibliography page but do not count any pages after the end of the text as part of your page count. (A five-page paper may also have a cover page, two pages of notes and one page of bibliography which is nine pieces of paper.)
- Ask your teacher if it is ok to print two-sided.
- < Center the title of your paper in the middle of the page, halfway down.
- Center your name directly under the title.
- Your teacher's name, course title and block, and date should be written in three lines and centered at the bottom of the page.
- Use Times or Times New Roman 12 pt font for the title page. Do not try to make your cover page decorative by using bold, underline, or creative fonts.
- Do not put a page number on the cover page, and do not count it as part of the total page count.
Assemble your paper in the following order
- Cover/title page
- Body of the paper
- Appendix (if needed)
Names and numbers
- Use full names of people and agencies/legislation the first time you use them. For agencies, include the acronym in parentheses after the full name when first used, e.g. Federal Emergency Relief Administration (FERA).
- After the first time you can refer to people by their last name or agencies/bills by their acronyms for the rest of the paper.
- Write out numbers lower than 100. (“All nine members of the Supreme Court...”)
Footnotes and endnotes
Caution: If you are writing your paper in Google Docs, you MUST use footnotes. Google Docs does not have a way to make Endnotes, and if you use the Endnote Generator add-on it will make a mess of your paper!
- Footnotes go at the bottom of the page where the reference occurs; endnotes go on a separate page after the body of the paper. Both use the same formatting guidelines.
- Within the essay text: put the note number at the end of the sentence where the reference occurs, even if the cited material is mentioned at the beginning of the sentence.
- The note number goes after all other punctuation.
- Be sure to use Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3) nor Roman (i, ii, iii).
- Put the word Notes (not Endnotes) at the top of the page with your endnotes. Use Times/Times New Roman 10 pt font.
- Single space each entry; double space between entries.
- Indent the first line of each note.
- Never reuse a number - use a new number for each reference, even if you have used that reference previously.
- Be sure to look at shortened form examples for sources you refer to more than once.
- To cite multiple sources in a single note, separate the two citations with a semicolon. Never use two note numbers at the end of a sentence.
- Your bibliography should go on a separate page, with the word Bibliography centered at the top of the page in Times/Times New Roman 12 pt font. Do not use bold or large size font for the heading.
- Be sure to use proper formatting - note and bibliography styles are different.
- Use a "hanging indent" - the first line of the citation begins at the margin, subsequent lines are indented.
- If your source has no author, alphabetize by title within the authors - don't make a separate list.
- Don't separate primary and secondary sources unless your teacher requests it.
Watch out for these common errors:
- Note format uses first name last name, bibliography uses last name, first name.
- In your notes, do not reuse numbers! Each citation gets a new number.
- Pay attention to indents. Notes use a first line indent, a bibliography uses a hanging indent.
- A bibliography goes in alphabetical order by author (or title if there is no author). Notes are numbered and are listed in the order the sources are used.
- Don't put Works Cited at the top of your bibliography - that is MLA style.
Citing your sources
Can't decide whether your source needs a citation?
Click here to hear Dr. Hansen explain when citations are needed.
Click here to view a flowsheet that will guide your choices.
The library subscribes to Noodlebib, a citation management tool. You can get to Noodlebib one of two ways:
1. Go to your Menlo gmail and click on the 9-box "waffle." Noodlebib is in the same place as Haiku.
2. Go to the Noodletools home page and log in under Google for Education with your Menlo Gmail username and password (this is the best way to use Noodlebib on a mobile device).
Google Docs formatting tips
Do you want to be sure you've formatted your research paper correctly? Click the link below to download a Chicago style citation and formatting checklist.