Chicago style essay format

The Chicago style was developed so researchers have a standard style to follow. The Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) is a regularly updated document that contains instructions about style, in addition to formatting. Currently, the CMOS is at its 17th edition.

Students are often confused with Chicago style and Turabian style. This confusion is warranted since the Turabian style was adapted from Chicago style. The two are identical, however Turabian style was simplified for students. This was developed by Kate Turabian specifically with history and social science researchers in mind.

We mentioned in a previous post that Chicago style has two systems, the notes and bibliography and author-date systems. The overall format of the paper, the cover page, and the bibliography or reference list generally follow the same format regardless of the system you used. The differences are often minor, so maintain a keen eye when formatting your essay in Chicago style.

Here is how to format an essay in Chicago style:

The main text follows the typical research paper format:

  • 1-inch margin on all sides. 
  • The first line of each paragraph should be indented by 0.5 inches.
  • Font style should be readable, preferably 12 pt. Times New Roman or Courier.
  • Page numbers appear on the upper right corner. Start pagination after the cover page.
  • The text should be double-spaced, unless otherwise specified.
  • The right margin should be “ragged,” not justified.


The differences between the Notes and Bibliography system and the Author-Date system is more visible in the main body and Bibliography and Reference lists.

Notes and Bibliography

If you chose to use the endnote format. Here is what it should look like:

Finally, the bibliography page:

Author-Date

The Author-Date system prefers a References list that should look like this:

Final notes

Formatting a paper feels like an unnecessary menial task for many students. They tend to be careless with the formatting, and submit sloppy-looking papers. That is not the mark of a good researcher. Papers, be it a research paper or an argumentative essay, should be prepared with great care and presented in a professional manner. More than the grades attached to proper formatting, the added credibility is a factor to remember when formatting papers. CustomEssayMeister can help you write and format papers in Chicago or Turabian, MLA, and APA.