The academic paper is known to be a formal writing that has to adhere to certain rules. Standard essay arrangement makes the paper easy for your readers to follow. The quirk of the Chicago writing style (NB – note/bibliography variant) is that the sources are specified in the text as footnotes, thus offering your readers comprehensive information about the sources cited throughout the text. This peculiarity of Chicago NB format makes easy for your reader to retrieve the outside materials, thus promoting a critical and interactive reading of the essay. As such, the Chicago writing style provides a commonplace reference in the text. It also gives a complete list of sources under the bibliography section as a manifestation of the materials used throughout the work.  

Chicago format and writing prescriptions are expressed in the manual that is around 1000 pages long. So what is Chicago style writing about and how can you master all this incredible lot of information for your school essay? See our summary of the most relevant information.

Layout of Your Paper

The Chicago writing format gives precise instructions about the overall layout of your paper:

  • One inch margins on all sides
  • Times New Roman 12 pt font.
  • Double spaced line arrangement.
  • The text is left-justified, with the ragged right margin.
  • Each paragraph beginning is ½ inch indented off the left field.
  • Use ½ inch (hanging) indent for each bibliography entry.
  • Number the pages starting from page one, in the top right corner of the essay. It is recommended to include your last name as well.
  • A five-page essay may have a cover page that is not compulsory for short papers.

Chicago writing style also requires one to assemble the paper in a particular order:

  • Cover page
  • The text of the paper
  • Appendix (if applicable)
  • Notes (if applicable)
  • Bibliography

Although the cover page is not mandatory for short papers, writing style gives guidelines on the arrangement of the title page as follows:

  • The title of your paper should be centered and typed halfway down from the top.
  • Type your name below the title, also center-aligned.
  • Your instructor’s name, course name and date should be written at the bottom of the page, each on a separate line and center-aligned.
  • Do not try to decorate your cover page by using bold font, underline or other font variants.
  • Do not apply the numbering to your cover page as it does not count towards the total page count.

Footnotes and Endnotes

One of the most difficult parts of Chicago style of writing is associated with the arrangement of footnotes and endnotes. What is the difference between footnotes and endnotes and when do we use them? The biggest difference between the two is where the notes are placed. Footnotes are located at the bottom of the page (where they belong), whereas the endnotes appear collectively at one page labeled as “Endnotes” at the end of the paper.  

  • Use the Arabic numbers (1, 2, 3 …), and not Roman (i, ii, iii …).
  • Within the text, put the note number at the end of the sentence where the reference belongs even though the source materials are mentioned at the beginning of the sentence.
  • Use the note number after all other punctuation signs.
  • Never use two note numbers at the end of the sentence.
  • Ensure single space line arrangement within each entry, whereas double space should be between the entries.
  • Use the sign “ibid” if you are referring to the same source as the previous citation, and make sure to add the page number if different.
  • Do not indent the first line, however, you need to indent ½ inch off the left margin for each consecutive line.


In Chicago writing, the list of sources used throughout the essay is labeled as the bibliography (Notice, for AD – author / date variant of Chicago style, it will be titled as Works Cited). Such list enables the reader to refer to the sources used in the paper for additional materials. The formation of each entry depends on the type of source. For instance, the journal will be formatted differently compared to a video or internet source. For example, for the book entry you are required to list the following details.

  • The author’s last name and first name
  • The title of the book
  • The city of publication
  • The name of publisher
  • The year of publication.

Useful Hints:

  • We would recommend using Chicago writing style template for your further reference.
  • Make sure to pay attention to the font, punctuation, capitalization, the word order, spacing, and indent – all these nuances matter.
  • Mind the difference: note uses first name and last name, whereas bibliography gives last name, first name.
  • The bibliography is arranged in the alphabetical order by author (or title if the author is not known), whereas the endnotes are listed in the sequence of their occurrence in the text.
  • Chicago style has two variants: Note-Bibliography (NB) and Author-Date (AD): they are different in many ways.