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Citation Guide: Basic Chicago Rules

A guide to create citations for bibliographies and works cited in reference papers.

Basic Rules

Here are some basic rules to remember.

  • All entries in the bibliography will include the author (or editor, compiler, translator), title, and publication information.
  • The author’s name is inverted in the bibliography, placing the last name first and separating the last name and first name with a comma; for example, John Smith becomes Smith, John. (If an author is not listed first, this applies to compilers, translators, etc.)
  • Titles of books and journals are italicized. Titles of articles, chapters, poems, etc. are placed in quotation marks.
  • The year of publication is listed after the publisher or journal name.
  • In a bibliography, all major elements are separated by periods.
  • Include a note (endnote or footnote) each time you use a source, whether through a direct quote or through a paraphrase or summary. Footnotes will be added at the end of the page on which the source is referenced, and endnotes will be compiled at the end of each chapter or at the end of the entire document.
  • Notes and bibliographies should be singled-spaced internally; however, leave an extra line space between note and bibliographic entries.
  • Label the first page of your back matter, and your comprehensive list of sources, “Bibliography” (for Notes and Bibliography style) or “References” (for Author Date style). 
  • Leave two blank lines between “Bibliography” or “References” and your first entry. 
  • List entries in letter-by-letter alphabetical order according to the first word in each entry. 
  • Use “and,” not an ampersand, “&,” for multi-author entries. 
  • If you cannot name a specific page number when called for, you have other options: section (sec.), equation (eq.), volume (vol.), or note (n.).
  • Provide DOIs instead of URLs whenever possible. 
  • If you cannot ascertain the publication date of a printed work, use the abbreviation “n.d.”
  • Do not use access dates unless publication dates are unavailable.
  • When a source has no identifiable author, cite it by its title, both on the references page and in shortened form (up to four keywords from that title) in parenthetical citations throughout the text.