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Università della Svizzera italiana Biblioteca universitaria di Lugano

Biblioteca universitaria di Lugano

Chicago style: documentary-note system



Any project, thesis or dissertation largely relies on information taken from other works. You can draw upon a multiplicity of sources when writing a text, such as books, articles, statistics, websites, etc.

You may quote from a source, by reporting the original author’s exact words; you may paraphrase, by putting a passage from a text into your own words, or you may discuss ideas developed by other authors. In any of these cases it is essential that you acknowledge your sources in order to:

This guide provides you with the basics on how to cite sources (printed and electronic) in your text and how to list references at the end of your work. It follows the rules described in the The Chicago manual of style, 16th edition (hereafter referred to as The Chicago manual of style). Examples are given on how to cite the most common types of publications.For types of documents not exemplified here, you can refer to The Chicago manual of style (online and print version) cited in the list of references or ask the library staff for advice.

Topics explored include:

  • how to quote from other texts
  • how to cite sources using the Chicago style (documentary-note system)
  • elements that have to be included in citations
  • how to cite individual types of sources
  • how to arrange a bibliography

The majority of the examples of bibliographic citations quoted in this guide are drawn from The Chicago manual of style (2010).


Quoting sources

Quotations may either be integrated into the text or set off as blocks. Remember that quotations must reproduce the exact words of the original passage (see the difference between “quote” and “paraphrase” in the glossary). For more information on how to paraphrase and summarize a text see the style manuals available at the library (section 808.02).

Run-in quotations

Generally, short quotations are integrated into the text and enclosed in double quotation marks.

In short, there has been “almost a continual improvement” in all branches of human knowledge;


Block quotations

Quotations longer than eight lines, as well as quotations that are the object of analysis, are generally set off from the text. Block quotations are not enclosed in quotation marks and are indented, commonly set in smaller type and single-line spaced. The sentence/phrase that introduces the quotation may be followed by a colon (as in the case of the introductory phrase “as follows”), a period or no punctuation at all.

In discussing the reasons for political disturbances Aristotle observes that

                 revolutions also break out when opposite parties, e.g. the rich and the people, are equally 
                 balanced, and there is little or no middle class; for, if either party were manifestly superior, 
                 the other would not risk an attack upon them. And, for this reason, those who are eminent 
                 in virtue usually do not stir up insurrections, always a minority. Such are the beginnings 
                 and causes of the disturbances and revolutions to which every form of government is liable.


Quotes within quotes

A quotation within a quotation must be marked by means of either single or double quotation marks.

Single quotation marks enclose in-text quotations within quotations.

“Don’t be absurd!” said Henry. “To say that ‘I mean what I say’ is the same as ‘I say what I mean’ is to be confused as Alice at the Mad Hatter’s tea party.”

A sentence quoted in a block quotation must be enclosed in double quotation marks.

Summarizing Gordon’s philosophy, Crane says that

                there has been “almost a continual improvement” in all branches of human knowledge …



Text added to quoted material must be enclosed in square brackets.

Marcellus, doubtless in anxious suspense, asks Barnardo, “What, has this thing [the ghost of Hamlet’s father] appear’d again tonight?”



The omission of words, phrases or more from quotations must be indicated by three dots (four dots if a whole sentence is omitted).

Emerson claims that “the spirit of our American radicalism is destructive and aimless.... On the other side, the conservative party … is timid, and merely defensive of property.... It does not build, nor write, nor cherish the arts, nor foster religion, nor establish schools."


The Chicago documentary-note system

According to the documentary-note style, citations must be placed either in footnotes or endnotes, sequentially numbered in the text. Citations in notes may appear either in a fully-detailed or in a concise form. In the former case it is facultative to provide a complete bibliography at the end of the work, while in texts with concise notes a final bibliography becomes strictly necessary. We recommend that notes display a minimum amount of information (as in the example below) and that a bibliography be compiled at the end of the text. This way both notes and bibliography can be easily consulted by readers. The bibliography must be alphabetically ordered by authors' names. It is important that the authors’ names cited in the notes correspond to the entries in the bibliography.


“Nonrestrictive relative clauses are parenthetic, as are similar clauses introduced by conjunctions indicating time or place.” [1] 

1. Strunk and White, The Elements of Style, 3.


Strunk, William, Jr., and E. B. White. The Elements of Style. 4th ed. New York: Allyn and Bacon, 2000.


How to cite sources in notes

We describe here how to cite references in an shortened form starting from the first note. For information on how to write fully-detailed note citations please refer to the Chicago manual of style (section 14.14 onwards).

Basic form

Insert the author’s or editor’s last name in notes as it appears in your bibliography. The first name, or initials, is generally omitted, unless more authors with the same surname are cited. Abbreviations, such as “ed.”, should not be used. The title of the publication you refer to should follow the author’s name, preceded by a comma (for information on how to format titles see the section on basic rules). Page number/s, if any, are separated from the title by a comma. The abbreviation “p./pp.” is not necessary (see examples at section 14.28 of the Chicago manual).

5. Farmwinkle, Humor of the Midwest, 241.

Titles with more than four words should be shortened. Initial articles (“the”, “an” etc.) are omitted; the order of the words in the title cannot be changed.

Complete title: The War Journal of Major Damon “Rocky” Gause
Short title:  War Journal

Complete title: Daily Notes of a Trip around the World
Short title: Daily Notes   NOT   World Trip 

More than one author

For works written by two/three authors all names must be cited, using “and” to connect the last author to the other names - see the following examples for punctuation. In the case of works written by more than three authors, include the first name followed by “et al.”. For instance, a work by Belizzi, Kruckeberg, Hamilton and Martin appears as Belizzi et al., “Consumer Perceptions”.

5. Argenti and Forman, Power of Corporate Communication, 28.

6. Siever, Spainhour, and Patwardhan, Perl, 520.

7. Belizzi et al., “Consumer Perceptions.”

Unknown author and/or date

Citations to texts whose author and /or date are not known should list the title in place of the author. When citing website content, include the title or a description of the page, the author or the sponsor of the site, and a URL. If available, include a publication date or date of revision. If no such date can be determined, include an access date. It is better to cite website content in notes only.

14. “WD2000: Visual Basic Macro to Assign Clipboard Text to a String Variable,” revision 1.3, Microsoft Help and Support, last modified November 23, 2006,


Multiple references

If you are discussing several works by different authors, you need to provide all the authors’ names separated by semi-colons.

8. Doyle, Outcome Measures; Humes, Understanding Information Literacy; Webber and Johnston, “Information Literacy”.

References to the same source

When you cite the same work successively you should use the Latin abbreviation “ibid.”, that replaces the entire reference including the pages (if you refer to different pages of the same work you need to specify them after “ibid.”). “Ibid.” refers to the text cited in the note immediately preceding. If you need to cite a work you referred to in a previous note you should rewrite the entire citation. “Ibid.” cannot be used if the preceding note includes more than one reference.

6. Morley, Poverty and Inequality, 43.
7. Ibid.
8. Schwartz, “Nation and Nationalism,” 138.
9. Ibid. 
10. Ibid., 140.
11. Morley, Poverty and Inequality, 45-46.

If you cite the same work repeatedly, as in the examples 9 and 10 above, it is advisable to insert the page numbers into the text in parentheses, in order to avoid a series “ibid.” notes (see the Chicago manual, section 13.64).

Citations from secondary sources

It is advisable to always read original sources. However, if direct sources are not available, it is possible to cite works mentioned in other texts. In this case, the example below shows how to cite both sources in a note and in the bibliography. Zukofsky is the original author, while Costello is the secondary source.

14. Zukofsky, “Sincerity and Objectification,” 269, quoted in Costello, Marianne Moore, 78.


Costello, Bonnie. Marianne Moore: Imaginary Possessions. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1981.

Zukofsky, Louis. “Sincerity and Objectification.” Poetry 37 (February 1931), quoted in Costello, Marianne Moore, 78.


How to compile a bibliography

The bibliography includes all the references cited in the text, alphabetically organized. The following sections describe rules and examples of how to cite a variety of publications. It is important to pay attention to the order of the elements in the citation, the punctuation and the style. An example of bibliography is available at the end of this part.


Basic rules

Authors’ names

The author’s last name is followed by his/her first name (the first name can be initialized). In the case of two/three authors only the first author’s name is inverted. Please refer to the title page of the work you consulted to check the name order. For works by more than three authors, all names should be indicated; if the list of authors is exceedingly long (usually more than ten), you may indicate only the first three followed by “et al.”.

Capitalization: titles and subtitles are capitalized headline-style, which entails that all major words are capitalized. See section 8.157 of the manual for more information.

Style: titles of books and journals are italicized, while titles of articles or chapters in a book are set in roman and enclosed in quotation marks. In general, titles of unpublished works, such as theses or working papers, and titles of web pages are set in roman.

Abbreviations of journal titles: journal titles are normally written in full, in order to enable readers to quickly pinpoint the source. However, it is possible to use standardized abbreviations of titles, particularly in the reference lists of scientific works. Whatever form you choose, remember to be consistent with it throughout your work. Among the many extant, you may consult the Thomson Scientific list of title abbreviations, which is fairly comprehensive and interdisciplinary, at:
Finally, the Scientific style and format manual, available at the library, provides a good reference on how to abbreviate titles (Council of Science Editors 2006, 570-71).

Electronic sources

If avaible, cite the document DOI or any form of stable URL. If none of these is indicated, cite the document l'URL. The date of access is not required, unless both the publication date and the revision date are missing.



N.B. correct bibliographic information can be found on the title page of the book and its reverse side.

Two or more authors

Walzer, Janice R., and Todd Taylor. The Columbia Guide to Online Style. New York: Columbia Univ. Press, 1998.

10. Walzer and Taylor, Columbia Guide, 125.

Editor as author

Schellinger, Paul, Christopher Hudson, and Marijk Rijsberman, eds. Encyclopedia of the Novel. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998.

9. Schellinger, Hudson and Rijsberman, Encyclopedia.

Edition other than the first

Lesina, Roberto. Il Nuovo Manuale di Stile. 2nd ed. Bologna: Zanichelli, 1994.

11. Lesina, Manuale di stile, 18.

Multivolume works

Whole work

Wrigth, Sewell. Evolution and the Genetics of Populations. 4 voll. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1968-78.

6. Wright, Genetics of Populations, 250.

 Single volume

Wright, Sewell. Theory of Gene Frequencies. Vol. 2 di Evolution and the Genetics of Populations. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press, 1969.

15. Wright, Gene Frequencies.

Organizations as authors

Works authored by organizations or associations must be entered by the organization’s name.

World Health Organization. WHO Editorial Style Manual. Geneva: World Health Organization, 1993.

18. World Health Organization, Style Manual.

Translated works

Cite the name of the translator.

García Márquez, Gabriel. Love in the Time of Cholera. Translated by Edith Grossman. London: Cape, 1988.

21. García Márquez, Cholera.

Reprinted works

It may be desirable to cite the original date of publication of works that have been reprinted. The citation appears as shown in the example below.

Bernhardt, Peter. The Rose’s Kiss: A Natural History of Flowers. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2002. First published 1999 by Island Press.

17. Bernhardt, Rose’s Kiss.

Electronic Books

For books available via electronic libraries or platform, cite the document format.

Culpeper, Jonathan.  Impoliteness: Using Language to Cause Offence. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2011. PDF e-book.

31. Culpeper, Impoliteness, 221.

For books consulted online, cite the document DOI (if available) or URL.

Felleisen, Matthias, Robert Bruce Findler, Matthew Flatt, and Shriram Krishnamurthi. How to Design Programs: an Introduction to Programming and Computing. Cambridge: The MIT Press, 2003.

12. Felleisen et al., Programming and Computing.


Contribution to a book

Cite the individual title of the chapter, if there is one.

Phibbs, Brendan. “Herrlisheim: Diary of a Battle.” In The Other Side of Time: A Combat Surgeon in World War II, 117–63. Boston: Little, Brown, 1987.

42. Phibbs, "Herrlisheim," 52.

Cite the individual author of the chapter, if there is one.

Gould, Glenn. “Streisand as Schwarzkopf.” In The Glenn Gould Reader, edited by Tim Page, 308–11. New York: Vintage, 1984.

55. Gould, “Streisand as Schwarzkopf.”


Journal articles

Include volume, issue and year in the citation. The issue number may be omitted if pagination is continuous throughout a volume. See the examples for the correct punctuation.

Allison, G. W. “The Implications of Experimental Design for Biodiversity Manipulations.” American Naturalist 153, no. 1 (1999): 26-45.

61. Allison, "Experimental Design," 28.

Electronic Journals

The rules for citing printed articles also apply to electronic articles. Add the article DOI or the stable URL. If none of these is indicated, add the document URL. The date of access is not required.

Novak, William J. “The Myth of the ‘Weak’ American State.” American Historical Review 113 (2008):752–72. doi:10.1086/ahr.113.3.752.

72. Novak, "Myth," 752.


Articles on databases

The rules for citing articles on electronic journals also apply to articles on databases. Include either the document DOI or the document stable URL. If none of these is available, cite the name of the database and any identification number provided on the database. The date of access is not required.

Articles with stable URL

Karmaus, Wilfried, and John F. Riebow. “Storage of Serum in Plastic and Glass Containers May Alter the Serum Concentration of Polychlorinated Biphenyls.” Environmental Health Perspectives 112 (May 2004): 643–47.

10. Karmaus and Riebow, “Storage of Serum," 644.

Articles without DOI or stable URL

Girard, Nathalie. "Categorizing Stakeholders' Practices with Repertory Grids for Sustainable Development." Management 16, no. 1 (2013): 31-48. EBSCO Business Source Premier (88871222).

18. Girard, "Categorizing Stakeholders' Practices."

N. B. When citing a URL, it is important to notice that the URL must contain the database or website domain and NOT the proxy domain, as exemplified below:

Incorrect URL:

Correct URL:


Newspaper articles

It is sufficient to cite newspapers in the text, without creating an entry in the bibliography (see examples at section 14.206 of the manual).

2. Sheryl Gay Stolberg and Robert Pear, “Wary Centrists Posing Challenge in Health Care Vote,” New York Times, February 27, 2010,

However, if a bibliographic entry is needed, it should appear as shown in the examples below.

Goodstein, L., and W. Glaberson. "The Well-Marked Roads to Homicidal Rage." New York Times, April 10,2000.

18. Goodstein and Glaberson, "Homicidal Rage."

Unsigned Articles

The name of the newspaper stands in place of the author.

New York Times. "In Texas, Ad Heats Up Race for Governor." July 30, 2002.

18. New York Times, "In Texas."

Electronic newspapers

Cite the document URL. The date of access is not required.

Mitchell, Alison, and Frank, Bruni. "Scars Still Raw, Bush Clashes with McCain." New York Times, March 25, 2001.

17. Mitchell and Bruni, "Scars Still Raw."



Cite the review author and title, if given.

Boehnke, Michael. Review of Analysis of Human Genetic Linkage, 3rd ed, by Jurg Ott. Am J Hum Genet 66 (2000): 1725.

17. Boehnke, review.


Theses and papers


Specify the type of thesis and the academic institution.

Murphy, Priscilla Coit. “What a Book Can Do: Silent Spring and Media-Borne Public Debate.” PhD dissertation, University of North Carolina, 2000.

22. Murphy, "What a Book Can Do."

Papers presented at meetings

Specify the meeting name and place.

O'Guinn, T. C. “Touching Greatness: Some Aspects of Star Worship in Contemporary Consumption.” Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Psychological Association, New York, 1987.

27. O'Guinn, "Touching Greatness."

Working papers

Specify the type of material and the academic institution.

Lucki, Deborah D., and Richard, W. Pollay. “Content Analysis of Advertising: A Review of the Literature.” Working paper, History of Advertising Archives, Faculty of Commerce, University of British Columbia, 1980.

17. Lucki and Pollay, "Content Analysis."


Dictionaries and encyclopedias

Cite the author and the title of the entry. The page number is not required. In case of online documents, insert the document URL without the date of access, which is required only if there is neither a publication nor a revision date.

Isaacson, Melissa. “Bulls.” In Encyclopedia of Chicago, edited by Janice L. Reiff, Ann Durkin Keating, and James R. Grossman. Chicago Historical Society, 2005.

30. Isaacson, "Bulls."

References to entries without a specific author, published in well-known dictionaries or encyclopedias, are normally placed in the note only. It is necessary to cite the edition (other than the first) and the item preceded by s.v. (abbreviation of sub verbo).

15. Encyclopaedia Britannica, 15th ed., s.v. “salvation.”

In case of online works that have no publication date, cite the revision date or, if this is not available, a date of access. Add the document URL.

18. Merriam-Webster OnLine, s.v. "mondegreen," accessed July 13, 2013,


Wikipedia entries should be used with caution, particularly because information may be created or modified by someone who is not an expert in the field. It is worthwhile checking whether more authoritative resources are available as an alternative. We recommend checking the instructions regarding the use of Wikipedia with the academic supervisor.

As with other encyclopedias, Wikipedia entries are normally placed in notes only.

22. Wikipedia, s.v. "caloris planitia," last modified July 13, 2013,



Unpublished interviews

Unpublished interviews are generally cited in notes or running text.

Andrew Macmillan, principal adviser of the FAO Investment Center Division, explains that ... (discussion with the author, June 20, 2011)

Published interviews

Published interviews must be cited in the bibliography.

Carson, Ciaran. "Inventing Carson: An Interview." By David Laskowski. Chicago Review, 45, no.3-4 (1999): 92-100.

18. Carson, "Interview," 93. 



Corporate reports or reports issued by organizations should be treated as books.

Association of College and Research Libraries. ACRL Statement on Professional Development. 2000.

11. Association of College and Research Libraries, "Statement."


Audiovisual material

References to audiovisual material should include the name of the person responsible for the content (composer, perfomer etc.) and the indication of the medium (DVD, CD etc.).

Cleese, John, Terry Gilliam, Eric Idle, Terry Jones, and Michael Palin. “Commentaries.” Disc 2. Monty Python and the Holy Grail, special ed. DVD. Directed by Terry Gilliam and Terry Jones. Culver City, CA: Columbia Tristar Home Entertainment, 2001.

3. Cleese et al., "Commentaries." 

Television broadcast

Cite the title of the episode (if known) and the name of the TV series.

Curtis, Michael, and Gregory S. Malins. “The One with the Princess Leia Fantasy.” Friends, season 3, episode 1. DVD. Directed by Gail Mancuso. Aired September 19, 1996. Burbank, CA: Warner Home Video, 2003.

33. Curtis and Malins, "Princess Leia."


Internet websites

Website content is generally cited in notes only. Include the title or a description of the page, the author or the sponsor of the site, and a URL. If available, include a publication date or date of revision. If no such date can be determined, include an access date.

10. “Google Privacy Policy,” last modified March 11, 2009,

11. “McDonald’s Happy Meal Toy Safety Facts,” McDonald’s Corporation, accessed July 19, 2008,

If a bibliographic entry is needed, include the name of the author, if present, or the name of the owner or sponsor of the site.

Google. “Google Privacy Policy.” Last modified March 11, 2009.

10. "Google Privacy Policy."


E-mail messages

E-mail messages should be cited in notes only.

Personal communications

15. Constance Conlon, e-mail message to author, April 17, 2000.

Public messages

16. Scott Smith, "Re: Disputed Estimates of IQ," e-mail to Yahoo Forensic Network Group mailing list, January 5, 2006,


Example of bibliography

In the bibliography entries must be arranged alphabetically by the authors’ last names (or editor's). Works by the same author should be ordered chronologically, starting from the oldest; the author’s name may be replaced by a 3-em dash. A single-author work must be entered before a multi-author work beginning with the same name. More information at section 14.60 of the manual.

Albert, Pierre. Histoire de la Radio-Télévision. Paris: Presses Univ. de France, 1996.

Association of College and Research Libraries. ACRL Statement on Professional Development. 2000.

Fontanelle, Eric C. Preparing for the Postwar Period. Columbus, Ohio: W. C. Cartwright and Daughters, 1944.

___. What Really Happened when the War Ended. Cleveland: Chagrin Valley Press, 1952.

Gould, Glenn. “Streisand as Schwarzkopf.” In The Glenn Gould Reader, edited by Tim Page, 308–11. New York: Vintage, 1984.

Lesina, Roberto. Il nuovo manuale di stile. 2nd ed. Bologna: Zanichelli, 1994.

Loften, Peter. “Reverberations between Wordplay and Swordplay in Hamlet.Aeolian Studies 2 (1989): 12-29.

Ramos, Frank P. “Deconstructing the Deconstructionists.” Eolian Quarterly 11 (1990): 41-58.

Ramos, Frank P., John R Wizmont, and Clint T. O’Finnery. Texts and Nontexts. Philadelphia: Whynot Press, 1987.

Schellinger, Paul, Christopher Hudson, and Marijk Rijsberman, eds. Encyclopedia of the Novel. Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn, 1998.



We provide here a brief list of abbreviations, some of which are Latin, commonly used in text writing, citations and bibliographies. Some of these are Latin. For a detailed list please consult a style manual.

anon. : anonymous
cf. : confer (compare with)
ed. : edition
ed./eds. : editor/editors 
e.g. : exempli gratia (for example, for instance)
et al. : et alii (and others), used in citations and reference lists.
fig. : figure
i.e. : id est (in other words)
ibid. : ibidem (in the same place), used in notes to refer to the immediately prior source.
ill. : illustration
para./paras. : paragraph/paragraphs
ref./refs. : reference/references
s.l.a.n. :  sine loco, anno, vel nomine (without place, year, name of publisher)
s.v. : sub voce/verbo (under the word), used to quote a specific entry in a reference work.
vol./vols. : volume/volumes


List of References

Council of Science Editors, Style Manual Committee. 2006. Scientific style and format: The CSE manual for authors, editors, and publishers. 7th ed. Reston: Council of Science Editors.

Pearsall, Judy, and  Bill Trumble, eds. 2002. Oxford English reference dictionary. Oxford : Oxford Univ. Press. 

University of Chicago Press. 2010. The Chicago manual of style. 16th ed. Chicago: Univ. of Chicago Press. Also available at  (subscription only)

Wikipedia: the free encyclopedia.



Author : a person/organization responsible for the creation of a work and its content in its published form.


Citation :  a reference to a work/document that provides the necessary information to identify the source.


Cite : see Citation.


Bibliography : see Reference List.


Database : "a structured set of data held in a computer, esp. one that is accessible in various ways" (Pearsall and Trumble 2002).


DOI (Digital Object Identifier) : “… a permanent identifier given to an electronic document” (Wikipedia, 18 June 2008).


Domain name : “a name that identifies a computer or computers on the Internet. These names appear as a component of a Web site's URL” (Wikipedia, 17 June 2008).


Editor : "a person who edits [assembles, prepares, modifies or condenses] material for publication or broadcasting" (Pearsall and Trumble 2002).


Intellectual Property :  “a property that is the result of creativity and does not exist in tangible form …” (Pearsall and Trumble 2002).


Paraphrase : “a free rendering or rewording of a passage” (Pearsall and Trumble 2002).


Plagiarize : “take and use (the thoughts, writings, inventions, etc. of another person) as one’s own” (Pearsall and Trumble 2002).


Proxy Server : “… a server (a computer system or an application program) which services the requests of its clients by forwarding requests to other servers” (Wikipedia, 16 June 2008).


Quotation : see Quote.


Quote : “repeat or copy out (a passage) usually with an indication that it is borrowed” (Pearsall and Trumble 2002).


Reference list : a list containing full bibliographic information regarding the works cited and consulted in one’s own text.


Source (source text) : “a text (sometimes oral) from which information or ideas are derived” (Wikipedia, 17 June 2008).


URL (Uniform Resource Locator) : “in popular usage, it means a web page address. Strictly, it is a compact string of characters for a resource available via the Internet” (Wikipedia, 17 June 2008). Root URL:  generally it corresponds to the website homepage or domain name.