Why Chicago Style?

The Chicago Style of citation is the standard format used in Classics, Biblical Studies, and History. It emphasizes completeness and relevance of bibliographic information, and presents bibliographic data in a way that allows researchers swiftly to identify sources and follow the chain of evidence you present. Chicago style should be learned and practiced by students in religious studies because it is the most common form and adaptable form of citation used in the human sciences.

How to Cite Sources

Students often ask me, do I have to cite my souces?

They ask, do I have to have a bibliography?

The answer is always YES.

When you use souces in the writing of the paper, you must always cite them (using footnotes). You must also have a bibliography for every source you consult or cite.

I require all students to use the Chicago style of citation.

The Chicago style means you use:

Footnotes for Citing all Secondary Sources

Always use footnotes, even in short papers. Footnote citations of secondary sources always contain the full bibliographic citation for the given source the first time it is cited in a paper. On subsequent citations of a given source, footnotes contain an abbreviated version of the title of the source. Footnotes usually include references to a specific page number or range of page numbers in the secondary source, so that your readers can easily find the relevant information in the source. Footnotes present bibliographic data in a natural way, leaving names in normal first-name-first last-name-last order, and presenting publication information, dates, page numbers, etc., using parentheses, commas, and semicolons.

Biblical Citations are In-Text

One exception to the rule regarding footnotes is this: ancient primary sources and Biblical literature is cited in-text, with parentheses and standard abbreviations. For example:

According to the ancient Israelites, "when God created the heaven and the earth, the earth was without form and void, and darkness was upon the face of the deep" (Gen 1:1–2).


Chicago style means you include a full bibliographic list at the end of your paper. The list should contain every source you consult and every source that appears in your notes. Remember, bibliographies format the bibliographic data differently than footnotes. Footnotes present author names in their natural order; bibliographies present author names last name first to facilitate alphabetical listing.

How To Learn the Chicago Style

There are numerous websites out there that can help you learn the Chicago style of citation (sometimes, this is also called Turabian style). Here is a selection of some of the most helpful resources that can get you started along the path.

  1. Baldwin's Annals of Bibliographic Science are .pdf files that give specific and detailed, step-by-step examples for citing commonly used sources.
  2. The Chicago Manual of Style has an Online Quick Guide that can provide many specific examples of Chicago style citations.
  3. The University of Georgia provides this handy online reference to footnote citation technique using Chicago style.
  4. Duke University provides this online guide to Turabian style footnotes.
  5. Bridgewater University provides a handy quick reference to Turabian that explains the difference between how we format the bibliographic data in footnote citations and in bibliographies.
  6. The History Department at Hanover College has provided a handy on-line style sheet for Chicago style footnotes.
  7. There are literally THOUSANDS OF WEBSITES that can help you master this style.