How to Write a Bibliography Using the Chicago Manual of Style

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Scholarly writing is quite different from the kind people do just for fun. You have more responsibility to the reader, as you’re entering an academic conversation and need to prove you’ve borrowed some ideas so readers will understand you are responsible for others. The "Chicago Manual of Style" is one of a few standardized ways to structure language. In order to write a paper or article in proper format, you’ll have to include a bibliography to lead readers to your sources. Here’s how to do this under the rules of the "Chicago Manual of Style."

1 Collect the important information

Collect the important information you’ll need from all of your books, magazines and electronic resources first. Be sure to remember this kind of thing as you go along, since it can be a real pain to try and go back and find which press published one of the books. You may want to simply make a photocopy of the book’s title page and keep it with your notes so you can’t forget.

2 Consult the book

Consult the book. The book can be found in most libraries. Purchasing it isn’t a bad idea, either. It’s packed with the information you need to provide crisp, clear prose. There are also online resources. Visit the Chicago Manual of Style’s own quick guide for citation at the link provided in the Resources section below.

3 Start out

Start out by simply typing “Bibliography” at the center of the top of a new page. The entries will be in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Thanks to the wonder of word processing, you can simply cut and paste the entries into order after they’re all down and correct.

4 Figure

Figure out what kind of publication your first source is. It can be a book with two authors, a journal article, a book review or even something else. Look at the Chicago Manual of style to see how an entry should be structured. For example, a Chicago-style citation for a book with one author would look like this: Author last name, author first name. Title (in italics). City of publication: Publisher, Year of publication.

5 Work through all of your sources

Work through all of your sources in the same way. This may take a while, but it’s not complicated; you’re just putting information into a formula. Once you’re done with all of your sources, move them around until they’re all in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. Your bibliography should be at the end of your paper. The first line of each entry should be an inch from the margin with subsequent lines indented one-half inch more.

Ethan Pendleton is a teacher and writer in Columbus, Ohio. He holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from Ohio State University at Marion and teaches writing in various capacities in his community.