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Chicago Citation Style, 17th Edition: Notes

A University of Lethbridge Library guide to Chicago Manual of Style citations.

Guidelines for Footnotes & Endnotes

  • Every time you use a source, whether you are quoting directly, paraphrasing (explaining the idea of another in your own words), or relaying facts or opinions not generally known or easily checked, you should include a footnote or endnote (see the Manual, 14.1).
  • A footnote is listed at the bottom of the page on which the reference occurs, while endnotes are compiled at the end of the chapter, paper, article, or book. For the pros and cons of using each, see The Chicago Manual of Style, 14.44 and 14.45. Also, consult your instructors, as they may prefer one over the other. Footnotes are generally most popular, as they are easier to reference.
  • After you have quoted, paraphrased, or summarized someone else's work, place a superscript number at the end of the sentence or clause.  This number should correspond to a footnote or endnote which cites the source being referenced.
    • e.g. According to Cranston, Rousseau was "the least academic of modern philosophers."²
    • For information on placement of superscript numbers, see The Chicago Manual of Style, 14.26.
  • In the footnote or endnote itself, the number is not superscript. It is followed by a period, a space, and then the citation.
  • The first line of each footnote or endnote (and only the first line) should be indented one half inch from the left margin.
  • Footnotes and endnotes should be ordered consecutively, starting from 1, throughout a paper, article, or chapter. In books, note numbers return to 1 at the beginning of each chapter.
  • The first note citing a particular source must include the full citation. (All of the note examples given in this guide are the full citations.) Later notes citing the same source, however, need only include the author's surname, a shortened form of the title, and the page number(s). For more examples of shortened citations, see The Chicago Manual of Style, 14.30. (Also note that some instructors may allow you to use a shortened citation for the first note citing a source, provided that the source is cited in full in the bibliography.)
    • e.g.      1. Jacalyn Duffin, "The Queen's Jews: Religion, Race, and Change in Twentieth-Century Canada," Canadian Journal of History 49, no. 3 (Winter 2014): 377-78.
                  . . .
                  13. Duffin, "Queen's Jews," 392.
  • The Manual now discourages the use of ibid. when citing the same source in subsequent notes. (Ibid. is an abbreviated form of the Latin ibidem,  which means “in the same place.”) Instead, use a shortened citation. If you wish to avoid repetition, the shortened title may be omitted from subsequent notes. For more information, see The Chicago Manual of Style, 14.34.
    • e.g.      1. Paige Raibmon, "Living on Display: Colonial Visions of Aboriginal Domestic Spaces," in Home, Work, and Play: Situating Canadian Social History, 1840-1980, ed. James Opp and John C. Walsh (Toronto: Oxford University Press, 2006), 22.
                  2. Raibmon, 22.
                  3. Raibmon, 26.
  • Notes need not only be used for citations. Substantive, or discursive, notes expand on what is written in the text. They are helpful to use when you want to include important information that would otherwise interrupt your prose. For more information, see The Chicago Manual of Style, 14.39.
    • e.g.      24. Ernst Cassirer takes important notice of this in Language and Myth (59–62) and offers a searching analysis of man’s regard for things on which his power of inspirited action may crucially depend.

For an example of a paper with footnotes, see Purdue University's Online Writing Lab (OWL) website.