Chicago Style Research Paper: Tips from 2 Pros

Chicago Style Research Paper: Tips from 2 Pros

A Chicago style research paper is one that adheres to the Chicago style of formatting academic papers.  The hallmarks of Chicago style research papers are in text citations, the use of footnotes and endnotes, and content notes.  Chicago style research papers are required in many social science courses such as political science and history.

A Chicago style research paper is useful for presenting sources in a way that citation styles such as APA and MLA do not cover.  Chicago style presents more than just the author name and publication date within the text itself or as footnotes to the text.  This enables the reader to quickly discern where the reference came from.  The use of footnotes and endnotes also allow the writer of the report to comment on the use of the references and the source of the information that appears within the text.  The footnotes and endnotes that appear in Chicago style research papers are also ideal places for the author of the report to insert comments which enhance the understanding of the material being presented but which are not crucial to the project itself.

For the most part, when an instructor asks for a Chicago style research paper, that instructor is telling students that he or she wants them to use footnotes or endnotes.  However, even in Chicago style research papers, in-text citations that use only the author's last name, the publication date, and the page number, are used for smaller papers.  If the citation style required for the document is unclear, a student should confer with the instructor or a Chicago style writing guide.

Footnotes, endnotes, and content notes are indicated by the use of a superscript number.  A superscript number is simply a number appearing above the line of text which is in a smaller font than the rest of the text.  Most word processing programs allow students to insert footnotes, endnotes, and content notes automatically and format the number as well as the text.  In general, footnote text, which appears at the bottom of the page on which the citation appears, is written in 10-point font while the report font itself is written in 12-point.  Endnote text appears at the end of the document and is written using the same size font as the rest.  The first time a reference is cited using endnotes or footnotes, the citation should include the full citation.  An abbreviated citation can be used thereafter.

A Chicago style research paper still requires the student to create a bibliography even though all of the information contained in the bibliography has already appeared in the footnotes.  The bibliography should be presented in alphabetical order and each citation should have the second and subsequent lines of the citation indented.  Students should always refer to a Chicago citation style guide for complete guidelines.

Viewpoint of Author #2

A Chicago style term paper is one that is written, cited, and documented according to the Chicago Manual of Style, a publication manual that details guidelines for writing, citing, and formatting texts.  Chicago style term papers are commonly assigned in history courses.  Some humanities professors will also prefer their students to use Chicago style.

Chicago style is different from the other primary academic writing styles—APA and MLA.  Therefore, a student should not assume that he or she can write a Chicago style term paper using some elements of Chicago style but also incorporating elements of another writing style.  Each style manual is comprehensive in its directions for writing, formatting, and citing.  Therefore, a student must use Chicago style for all aspects of his Chicago style report.  

The most important element of Chicago style a student will need to know when writing a term paper is how to properly cite and reference.  Chicago style outlines two ways of documenting sources in the body of a text.  The first is by using parenthetical notes at the end of a sentence (like this).  The other way of documenting sources is to list sources in footnotes.  Footnotes indicate sources at the bottom of a page through the insertion of corresponding superscripted numbers after a sentence.  Frequently, instructors will state their preference for either parenthetical notes or footnotes.  Most of the time, Chicago style term papers will also be required to include a comprehensive list of the secondary sources used in the document.  This list will be titled "bibliography" and will come after the text.

Typically, Chicago style term papers will not require the inclusion of a title page.  Some teachers may prefer that a title page be added, but generally, the title of the report can appear on the first page of text.  The author of the report, the name of the course and instructor, and the date of submission will also be included on this page, justified along the left-hand margin at the top.  Unless otherwise specified, a Chicago style term paper will be double-spaced.  Additionally, the pages should be numbered, beginning on the first page of the text.

Chicago style has its own set of dictates regarding grammar and style.  Therefore, if a student finds himself questioning his use of punctuation, capitalization, or abbreviation, he should reference the Chicago Manual of Style for an authoritative answer.

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