For those of you in the humanities, particularly in the fields of history and anthropology, you will eventually become an expert in citing sources according to the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS). Created by the University of Chicago Press in the early 20th century, it has become one of the most recognized and respected citation styles in academia. An offshoot of the Chicago Style is the Turabian Style, which modifies certain aspects of the Chicago Manual of Style to suit the specific needs of academia. Be sure to double check with your university whether Turabian or Chicago is the accepted style for your final dissertation copy.

Two Types of Documentation

To reference sources, the Chicago Style system uses either the so-called “note-bibliography” (NB) system or an “author-date” system, which closely resembles the systems of the Modern Language Association (MLA) or the American Psychological Association (APA). The NB system is usually used in disciplines like history, philosophy, and religion, whereas the parenthetical style is preferred by the social sciences, such as political science and economics.

The NB system relies on either footnotes or endnotes within the manuscript to cite sources. This also enables the researcher to conveniently introduce tangential yet nonetheless relevant information to the manuscript. For this reason, notes can become quite lengthy at times.

Because the sources are initially listed in full in the note, a final bibliography can be omitted but is often included by students and researchers. For the NB style, the CMS website provides a useful “quick guide” that you can bookmark for easy access. Additionally, several companies sell laminated “quick guides” to Chicago that can be purchased for less than $10.

The author-date system puts the last name of the author and the date of publication in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Unlike MLA and APA, no punctuation is used between these two parts, except if page numbers are included (e.g. John Doe 2014, 120-121). With this citation style approach, the writer must include a “References” or “Works Cited” page at the end of the manuscript.

A Comprehensive Manuscript and Writing Guide

Chicago’s guidelines don’t simply end with citations. The manual covers everything from capitalization and punctuation to how to create illustrations and tables. The Chicago Manual will let you know if or how to italicize historical warships and the linguistic difference between the adjectives “contagious” and “infectious.”

Released in 2010, the 16th edition includes over 1,000 pages of detailed information on how to structure your writing and research your dissertation. For those who might find the hardcover copy unwieldy, an online paid subscription is available and many institutions provide their students with free online access.

The Basics of Formatting in CMS

The Chicago Manual of Style also covers important formatting preferences. For instance, in CMS, margins should be between 1-1.5 inches and the preferred font size and style is 12-point Times New Roman. Except for the single-spaced notes and possibly block quotations (depending on your institution), the entire manuscript should be double spaced and flush left. Chicago prefers italics to underlining, as well as only one space between each sentence.

Because Chicago Style is so widely used and accepted, there are numerous online guides and websites that you can reference. If you are writing a dissertation in the humanities and want to pursue a career in academia, it would be worth your while to buy a hardcopy of the manual. You will use it often, especially when you eventually turn your dissertation into a book.

Need Help with Editing and Formatting per CMS?

Despite all the helpful resources available, learning and implementing the Chicago Manual of Style can be both time consuming and frustrating. Feel free to contact us at to get professional help with editing, formatting, and citing your dissertation per Chicago Manual of Style.

Call a Chicago Manual of Style expert!

Phone: 857-600-2241



The Chicago Manual of Style Online. Accessed March 27, 2014.

The Chicago Manual of Style, Sixteenth Edition. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2010.

“Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition.” Purdue Online Writing Lab. Accessed March 27, 2014.

“Chicago Style Citation Quick Guide.” The Chicago Manual of Style Online. Accessed March 27, 2014.

“Kate L. Turabian, 8th Edition.” The University of Chicago Press. Accessed March 27, 2014.

Tagged under: Chicago Formatting   Chicago Manual of Style   Chicago Manual of Style Help   Chicago formatting help   Chicago formatting service   Chicago style   Turabian style   dissertation editing   dissertation formatting  

Dr. Roda and his team at D.E. are the editors for my academic writing. My story with Dr. Roda is that I am a clinical assistant professor at a medical school. To move my career forward I am writing to increase the quantity and quality of my published scholarship. Because my appointment is clinical, all these efforts are on my own time and I have no secretarial help. In these circumstances DE has been supportive in the most essential way. They are available to help with all phases of my writing projects, starting with choosing the best journal, editing drafts, in house peer-review, formatting the citations to those exact specifications, from the latest edition of the APA Publication Manual or the Turabian manual. Finally, they are helpful as I must revise and answer the reviewers in subsequent revisions. For a physician without any administrative resources, DE has helped fill-in all those gaps. Presently, we are working on my second big writing project with DE editors. My first paper with DE as my editors was accepted by the first journal by all the reviewers on the first submission without any recommended editorial changes. As author with more than five years of work with DE editors, I anticipate continued success with these competant and helpful editors.

- Dr. Mike

Read More Client Testimonials

Unlock Doctoral Success with our #1 Best Selling Book