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Chicago Citation Style - 17th Edition


Even if you put information in your own words by summarizing or paraphrasing, you must still use a footnote just as you would with a direct quotation. All the information required in the footnote for a paraphrased sentence is the same as if you were using a direct quotation.

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General Guidelines for Chicago Citation Style

Numbers in parentheses refer to specific pages in the Chicago 17th Edition manual.

  • Remember that all sources of information and data, whether quoted directly or paraphrased, are cited with a note in the paper, as well as an entry in the bibliography at the end of the paper (section 14.1).


  • Double-space your entire paper, including notes and the bibliography (section 2.8).

What Needs to be Cited?

If you use information from another source, that source must be cited. This includes:

  • Direct quotations
  • Paraphrased information
  • Summarized ideas

When don't I need to cite?

You don't need to cite information that is considered "common knowledge." Common knowledge includes facts that are known by a lot of people and can be found in many sources. For example, you do not need to cite:

  • Canada's Confederation was in 1867.
  • Edmonton is the capital of Alberta.
  • Water freezes at 0° Celsius.

What is considered "common knowledge" can change based on a person's culture, academic discipline, or peer group.

To decide whether information is "common knowledge," consider:

  • Who is your audience?
  • What can you assume they already know?
  • Will you be asked where you found the information?

Not sure?

When in doubt, cite the source! Citation adds credibility to your writing and highlights the accuracy of your information.

General Guidelines for Footnotes

Numbers in parentheses refer to specific pages in the Chicago 17th Edition manual.


Note numbers in text are set as superscript numbers (section 14.19). 

At the bottom of the page, the note numbers are normally full size and followed by a period (section 14.19).

Notes should be numbered consecutively, beginning with 1 (section 14.25).

Tip: Use your word processor's "footnote" feature to assist with formatting.

Full Note vs. Shortened Note

The first note referring to a work must be a full note, but subsequent citations for that same work can be shortened. The shortened form should include just enough information to remind readers of the full title or lead them to the bibliography; usually the last name of the author(s), the key words of the main title, and the page number.  Check with your instructor to determine whether this shortened form is acceptable. (p. 757-761)

1. Salman Rushdie, The Ground beneath Her Feet (New York: Henry Holt, 1999), 25.
2. Valerie Bunce, "Rethinking Recent Democritization: Lessons from the Postcommunist Experience," World Politics 55, no. 2 (2003): 168,  
3. Rushdie, The Ground beneath, 28.

Consecutive footnotes for the same work

When citing the same source in multiple footnotes one after the other, cite the source in full the first time, and then use the abbreviated form for all subsequent citations until another source is cited (section 14.34).

1. Rushdie, The Ground beneath, 25.                                                              
2. Rushdie, 28.


When the note entry includes a URL that must be broken at the end of a line, the break should be made after a colon of double slash (//); before a single slash (/), a tilde (~), a period, a comma, a hyphen, an underline (_), a question mark, a number sign, or a percent symbol; or before or after an equal sign or an ampersand (section 14.18).