How to Write a Paper in Chicago Style

Many papers, many formats. The academic paper format is a way to arrange your work, make it more standardized and appropriate. Your future writing assignment will look much more correct and organized with a specific format applied. There are several of them:

  • Chicago Manual of Style or CMS
  • Modern Language Association or MLA
  • American Psychological Association or APA

Each of these styles is usually applied while dealing with papers for particular purposes. Hence, you may recognize an MLA format while reading papers that deal with Humanities, APA while working with Sciences, Psychology or Education writing, and Сhicago style paper format is typical for Fine Arts, Business or History writings. In this article, we are going to deal with a Chicago style in particular, and explore all its peculiarities and demands. What Chicago style paper have to look like? What are the common issues of this format? Nobody wants their work to be underestimated just because their brilliant ideas and writings don't meet the required formatting rules. Continue your reading - and find easily all the answers you need.

Chicago Style Rules for All Elements

Chicago style issue covers several writing aspects at once. Working with this formatting you will have to deal with margins, spacing, running heads, page numbers, and so on so forth. And don't forget about all the grammar, spelling and punctuation issues as well! How to write a paper in Chicago style? As we hope, you can write the work itself without any challenges. However, your primary task is to format it correctly. So, let's add specifics and define which parts you should pay particular attention to if you were assigned to write a Chicago style essay, research paper, thesis, or any other academic paper.

  • Margins. Use 1" margins on all four sides of the page.
  • Indentation. Indent the start of a paragraph 1/2 inch from the left margin; indent set-off quotations one inch.
  • Font. Choose a common and easy-to-read font like Times New Roman or Arial.
  • Size. Use 12 point font.
  • Page numbers. Number pages consecutively in the upper right-hand corner and your last name should be included before the page number. Don't include a page number on the title page.
  • Spacing. Double space the entire paper. The bibliography and endnotes should be single-spaced within each entry with a double space between them. Block quotes are single-spaced.
  • Title page. The title page should include the title of paper centered on the page, your name centered three-quarters of the way down the page, and the class, professor's name, and date centered at the bottom.
  • Running heads. A running head - which usually includes the title of the paper - can be included in the header but is not required. If included, it should be at the top of the page and justified left.

Also, there is such part as Chicago style paper heading that requires following some specific rules as well. It gives your reader all the central information about your writing, so the heading must be formatted correctly. First of all, CMS has peculiar heading system that includes subheadings and is called "five-level system." What are its features and rules to follow?

  1. First level: Course of study. Common headline capitalization, Italics or boldface type, centered.
  2. Second level: Broad topic. Headline capitalization, regular type, centered.
  3. Third level: More narrow topic. Headline capitalization, italics or boldface, flush left.
  4. Fourth level: Specific aspect that conveys your particular topic. Sentence capitalization, roman type, flush left.
  5. Fifth level: The specified topic you are going to describe as a central one. Sentence capitalization, boldface or italics, terminal period.

Look at the following example to understand the peculiarities better:

  1. Contemporary Literature (centered)
  2. Major movements (centered)
  3. Beat Generation (bold/italics)
  4. Specific events, elements, and figures
  5. Kerouac as a leader (italics). The role of founding Beat Generation Poet was filled by Jack Kerouac...

These are the basics of how to format a Chicago style paper. But remember to keep in focus such small but important things as formatting of tables and figures, dates, and numbers, commas, citations, etc. These elements also have some processing features, and you have to understand them well to provide your Chicago style paper with an appropriate look.

  • Numbers should be written with numerals (15.67, 1,283). Very large numbers can also be written with numerals (27 million), and numbers with units should use numerals as well (250 meters).
  • Dates should be written with the name of the month spelled out to avoid confusion (e.g., 12 January 2006 or January 12, 2006 instead of 1/12/2006).
  • Serial commas. The CMS strongly recommends you use the serial comma consistently throughout your paper to prevent ambiguity (the serial comma is the comma that comes before the conjunction in a list. For example, in the sentence "We're going to the store to get an apple, peanut butter, and bread," the comma after peanut butter is the serial comma).
  • Foreign words. Foreign words should be italicized if they are not commonly used in English. If they're followed by a definition, it should be in parenthesis: She asked for mantequilla(butter), not aceite(oil).
  • Tables and figures should be positioned as close as possible to where they are mentioned in the text. They should be consecutively numbered in two different groups (meaning number all the tables starting at one and number all the figures starting at one) in the order they are mentioned and referred to by number in the text. A legend (a short description of the figure) should be placed below the figure (Fig. 2. A political cartoon, dated 3 July 1863, ridicules prominent politicians from the South.). Tables should be given a short title that is listed above the table along with the number (Table 12 Effect of sunlight on samples).

With these recommendations and explanations, there is no doubt that your Chicago format paper will be absolutely refined and satisfy all the requirements of even the most strict professor!

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