How to Write a Chicago Style Bibliography | Writing & Rewriting Services

How to Write a Chicago Style Bibliography

A bibliography is essential for any type of academic writing, from short essays to articles in scholarly journals. Depending on your audience and the publisher, you typically need to arrange this list in a specific format. One of the most common structures is the Chicago style bibliography. Originally created by the University of Chicago, it provides a uniform style that writers can use to organize and list all the sources used in their work.


The Chicago style bibliography does simplify the process of creating a list of sources. However, it is not as simple as filling in the blanks. Whether a book, magazine, journal, or website, each source type requires different information. You need to understand these nuances when you create your bibliography.


Of course, you need to remember that a bibliography is a list of all sources, whether directly referenced in the text or used for background information. Since you need to create this exhaustive list, you should learn the formats for different publication types upfront.


Furthermore, a university instructor may subtract points from your grade for an incorrectly formatted bibliography, so it can pay off to make sure you get the formatting correct.


Here is a closer look at creating a bibliography using the Chicago style citation format.


What Makes a Chicago Style Bibliography Different?

Bibliography entries typically include the same basic information regardless of the style that you use. However, there are a couple of unique traits for the Chicago style.


First of all, there are actually two different systems within this type of bibliography style. First, you have the general Notes and Bibliography entries for sources that you use but did not directly quote in the text.


Second, you have an author-date system, which is used for Chicago style in-text citations.


There is also a third related style, called Turabian, which is a streamlined version meant for students.


If you want to be sure a reader understands each entry in your bibliography, you need to place each piece of information in the correct order. Here is a look at how to do so.


Formatting a Chicago Style Bibliography

At the top of the list, you create a Chicago style header, which simply says “Bibliography.” The word should be centered and bolded.


Also, the Chicago style calls for double-spaced text throughout the essay or article. However, the bibliography entries should be single-spaced, with one space in between each entry.


Here is a list of elements you should include in a bibliography.

For print books

  • Author’s name, with the last name first, followed by a period
  • The title of the book, in italics, followed by a period
  • The place of publication, followed by a colon
  • Publishing company, followed by a comma
  • Date of publication, followed by a period


If you use an e-book version, you must state so at the end of the entry.


An example of a Chicago style entry would be:

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. London: Penguin Classics, 2003.

For Magazines, Journals, and Newspapers

Things are slightly different for magazines and journals because they include both the article title and publication. In addition to the author, with the last name first, you include the following:

  • Title of the article, in quotation marks
  • Title of the publication, in italics
  • Publication number and date (for print editions)
  • Date accessed and URL (for online articles)


Here is an example of a Chicago style citation for a website:

Gibbons-Neff, Thomas, and Mujib Mashal. “U.S. Is Quietly Reducing Its Troop Force in Afghanistan.” New York Times, October 21, 2019.


Bibliography vs. Reference List

The most unique trait of the Chicago style format is a particular framework for references mentioned directly in the text. You cite a work in the text with this format: (author’s last name and year of publication, page or page range). Then, you include all the information for this entry in the reference list.


The entry for a reference list is the same as for a bibliography, except for one crucial difference: the date of publication comes right after the author’s name and before the title of the book or article.


For example, an entry might read:

Austen, Jane. 2003. Pride and Prejudice. London: Penguin Classics.


Get Help with Your Essay or Article

A correctly formatted bibliography is an essential aspect of an essay or academic article. However, formatting is one of many necessary steps for creating a successful piece. You also need to make sure the information is succinctly stated in your essay and that the cited works provide support for your main points. Having another set of eyes to help with the overall organization and specific formats in your work can be invaluable and help you make your points clearly.


Contact us to get help with your writing project today.