How to Write an Essay in Chicago Style

How to Write an Essay in Chicago Style at SolidEssay.comIn the following guide we will teach you how to write an essay in Chicago style and provide you with some handy tips.

What is Chicago Style?

Chicago style is one of the most popular and authoritative standards for writing academic papers. As the name suggests, the area of application of Chicago style is mainly psychology, sociology and other social sciences, as well as history. Chicago format, as well as other most popular academic styles such as MLA and APA, allows for easier communication and distribution of information between persons located in different parts of the world. Chicago style is famous for allowing more freedom to its users; for instance, regarding in-text citations or bibliography (as there are two systems for referencing).

Chicago Style Formatting

For Chicago style it is recommended to use:

  • 12 pt. font size (or at least 10 pt.)
  • Times New Roman or Palatino font
  • The indentation of the first line of each paragraph must be half-inch (from the left margin)
  • The text should be double-spaced (with the exception of block quotations). 
  • Quotes, which exceed 5 lines, should be put as separate blocks of text, without quotation marks. 
  • Notes and bibliography are single-spaced.

Structure of the Chicago Style Paper

It is better to divide your essay into a few main sections which should be numbered. In this way you will distribute the information better, and also the reader will be able to easily follow your inferences.

In-text citations

There are two systems of reference used in Chicago style:

The first one is notes-bibliography style, which turns around writing footnotes or endnotes instead of references. This system requires more space and is not so popular, but on the other hand, it clarifies the contents of your citations better and prevents you from being accused of plagiarism.

Still, we recommend you to use the second system.

According to the author-date system, short references should be put in round brackets. You need to write down the author’s last name and year of publication. Put the page you are referring to after the comma.

For example:

(Dewey 1923, 238).

This means that the given book by Dewey is to be found in the bibliography. If the author of the book/article is unknown (or there is none), only the title of the book can be referred to. If there are two authors, you should put “and” between their surnames.

For example:

(Dewey and Mead 1957, 331).

There are 2 systems of reference used in Chicago style: 1. notes-bibliography style (writing footnotes or endnotes instead of references) 2. the author-date system (short references should be put in round brackets).
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Quotations as per Chicago Style

There are usually two types of quotations: short and long. Short are quotations shorter than 5 lines (used for prose) or less than 40 words. At any instance, it is recommended to employ less long quotations in your essay, as they are more typical for long papers (Master theses and PhD dissertations).

The block (long) quotations should be single-spaced and 1 pt. smaller than the font you use in the paper (for instance, if the essay is written in 12 pt., you should decrease the font to 11 pt. in the blocks of the quoted text).


The page with bibliography should be titled “References”. You should leave one blank line (double-spaced) between each entry.

Chicago referencing style is pretty similar to MLA style used for bibliography. The author’s last name is followed by a comma and the first name. The title of the publication is written separately and the words contained in the title are capitalized. Chapters in books or articles in journals are put in quotation marks (the words in the title are also capitalized).

If you are not certain about the publication date (or there is no such) you can write “n.d” which stands for “not defined”. In the same way, if there is no publisher, you may write “n.p.” which stands for “not provided”.

Some examples of Chicago style


Fromm, Erich. To Have or to Be?. London and New York: Continuum, 1977.


Mitchell, Judith. “Dostoevsky’s Image of Christ”. The Expository Times 86 (1975): 210-214. Print.

Writing an essay in Chicago style requires a lot of efforts: to organize the information available, to clarify your own ideas, and to present them in a logical and comprehensive way.

Remember: a logical and well-elucidated thesis, although not very innovative one, will have bigger impact than an innovative research which is not presented in a satisfying, aesthetical and logical form.

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