Skip to Main Content

Chicago Manual of Style, 17th Edition: Author-Date Style: General Guidelines

Quick guide for Chicago Manual of Style - Author-Date Style

General Note

Exceptions to Chicago Manual of Style Author-Date Style that are exclusive to the Oceanographic Campus at NSU are indicated in GREEN.

General Formatting Tips

General Formatting Tips:

  • Paper should be white 8.5" x 11" paper.
  • Entire document should be single sided.
  • 1" margins on all sides.
  • Double-space text, with one space after punctuation between sentences. The only exceptions are:
    • Block quotations, table titles, and figure captions are single spaced.
      • A prose quotation of 5+ lines should be blocked.
      • A blocked quotation does not get enclosed in quotation marks.
      • An extra line space should immediately precede and follow a blocked quotation.
      • Blocked quotations should be indented an extra 0.5" as a whole.
  • Notes and references should be single-spaced internally but an extra line space should be added between entries.
  • Number pages with Arabic Numbers (1, 2, 3) on the first page of text (not the title page)
  • Page numbers should be placed at the top of the page either in the center or justified to the right margin.
  • Font should be something readable - preferably Times New Roman, Arial, or Calibri.
  • Font size should be 12pt (no less than 10pt, if necessary)
  • Subheadings should be used for longer papers and you have creative control over how the subheadings are formatted, but you must remain consistent throughout your paper.
    • Put an extra line space before and after subheadings
    • Avoid putting a period after your subheading

Tips for Formatting the Title Page for Theses and Dissertations:


Tips for Formatting the Title Page for a Class Paper:

  • Center title one third of the way down the page.
  • Title should be in ALL CAPS.
  • Name, course, date follow several lines later after title, also centered.
  • Do NOT include a page number on the title page.
  • For subtitles, end the title with a colon and place the subtitle on the line below the title.

Formatting Tips for the Main Body:

  • Titles mentioned in the text, notes, or references are capitalized "headline-style." Headline-style refers to the style in which all the important words of the title are capitalized.
  • Titles in the text as well as in references are treated with quotation marks if it is an article or chapter title of short works and italics if it is a book or larger periodical title.
  • A prose quotation of five or more lines should be "blocked." This block should be single spaced and have no quotation marks but there should be a space above and below the block. The entire block should be indented 0.5"
  • New paragraphs should begin with a first line indent using either the Tab button or the word processor's indentation feature. Never use Space Bar to indent.
  • Unnumbered lists should be formatted with both a left and hanging indent. Numbered or lettered lists (including outlines) should have periods coming after the number or letter and bulleted lists should have a tab following the bullet.
  • Abstracts are a single paragraph consisting of no more than 500 words with no tables, illustrations, or notes.

General Formatting Tips for References:

NOTE: Even if you use EndNote to Cite While You Write, please double check that these formatting basics are adhered to.  Sometimes EndNote does not do it correctly and you will have to manually check to ensure compliance.

  • Label your first page of your comprehensive list of citations, "References"
  • Leave 2 blank lines between "References" and your first entry.
  • Leave one blank line between remaining entries.
  • All reference entries need to have a "hanging indent."
  • References are single spaced with an additional space in between each citation.
  • List entries in letter-by-letter alphabetical order according to the first word in the entry.
  • Title quick notes:
    • Use headline-style capitalization for titles.
    • Italicize titles of books and journals.
    • Put quotations around article titles or essays in edited collections.
  • Use "and" not "&" 
  • Author quick notes:
    • For 2-3 authors: write out all names.
    • For 4-10 authors: write out all names in the full citation but only the first author's last name plus "et al." in any in-text citations.
    • No identifiable author: cite by title both on references and, in shortened form, as an in-text citation (use up to four keywords from that title).
  • A publisher's name should be spelled out, but it may also be abbreviated.
  • Do not use access dates unless publication dates are unavailable. Double check that you are not using the date that it was submitted to an online database or that it was accepted for publication. You want the date it was actually published.
  • If you cannot ascertain the publication of a printed work, use "n.d." for "no date."
  • Provide DOIs instead of URLs whenever possible. When adding a DOI to a reference, preface the number with "DOI:".
  • If a URL must be used instead of a DOI, look for a stable URL that was given by the journal. It may not be the one at the top of your screen.
  • If you need to reference a page number and don't have one, your other options are: section (sec.), equation (eq.), volume (vol.) or note (n.).

Formatting Tips for Tables and Figures:

  • Tables and figures should be positioned within the text immediately after the paragraph in which they are described.
  • Insert a "source line" at the bottom of the table or figure that needs citation information (it's not yours):
    • Source lines are introduced by the word Source(s), followed by a colon, and ended with a period.
    • Cite a source as you would an in-text citation, minus parentheses, and include full information in an entry on your References.
    • Acknowledge reproduced or adapted sources appropriately (i.e. data adapted from; map by....)
    • Every table should have a number and a short and descriptive title flush left on the line ABOVE the table.
    • Every figure should have a number and a caption flush left on the line BELOW the figure.
    • Number tables and figures separately in the order you mention them in the text. Describe tables and figures by their number ("figure 2 shows"...), not their location ("in the figure below" or "in the figure on page 4").

General Formatting Tips for Headers:

While you can format headers at your discretion, Chicago Manual does have a suggested Format for Headings.  This takes the guesswork out of creating your own and trying to maintain consistency.

Level          Format

  1              Centered, Boldface or Italic Type, Headline-Style Capitalization

  2              Centered, Regular Type, Headline-Style Capitalization

  3              Flush Left, Boldface or Italic Type, Headline-Style Capitalization

  4              Flush left, roman type, sentence-style capitalization

  5              Run in at beginning of paragraph (no blank line after), boldface or italic type, sentence-style capitalization terminal period.

General Formatting Tips for In-Text Citations:

  • While formatting in-text citations, do not use punctuation between the author's last name and the year of publication. Put a comma in between publication date and page number, where applicable.
  • Put your in-text citation before any punctuation, when possible.
  • Author's Name: If an author's name appears in the text, a date should immediately follow it.
  • No Author / No Page Number: Cite by its title, both on the Reference Page and in shortened form (<4 keywords from the title) in the in-text citation. You can use some other identifying locator instead of page number such as section (sec.), equation (eq.), volume (vol.), or note (n).
  • Same Source, Same Paragraph: When citing the same page(s) of the same source more than once in a single paragraph, cite only once in full after the last reference or at the end of the paragraph. If different page numbers are referenced but it is still the same source, include a full in-text citation upon the first reference and provide page numbers from that point on.
  • Same Source, Same Year: If you have several sources by the same author written in the same year, list them alphabetically by title on your reference page and put the letters a, b, c, etc. after the publication (i.e. 2006a)
  • One Sentence, Two Sources: use a semicolon to separate each individual reference in a single in-text citation. (Purkis, 2008; Riegl, 2011).


Broward College. "Chicago Manual of Style Quick Reference Guide" Springshare. 

COTR Library. "Chicago Manual of Style" Springshare.

Grossman, John. 2010. The Chicago manual of style: University of Chicago Press.

Irvine Valley College. "Citation Guide: Chicago Manual of Style" Springshare.

Purdue OWL. "Chicago Manual of Style 16th Edition: General Format"