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CMOS Style Workshop

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Welcome to the OWL Workshop on Chicago Style! This workshop will introduce you to the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) as it relates to writing and formatting research papers.

Note: This workshop should answer most of your basic questions about using CMOS. However, if you are writing a complex document, such as a thesis or lengthy manuscript, or if you have questions specific to writing tasks that aren't covered on the OWL, you should consult The Chicago Manual of Style(17th edition), which you can find at your local library or at most major bookstores.

The CMOS also has a website that that answers some frequently asked questions and offers extra advice.

What is CMOS?

CMOS establishes written standards of communication concerning:

  • formatting and page layout
  • stylistic techniques (e.g. footnotes, quotations)
  • citing sources
  • preparing a manuscript for publication

There are two different documentation styles in CMOS: the Notes-Bibliography system (NB), which uses footnotes, and the Author-Date system, which uses parenthetical citations within the text itself. These two styles are nearly identical in content, but different in form.

Why Use CMOS?

Aside from simplifying the work of editors by having everyone use the same format for a given publication, using CMOS makes it easier for readers to understand a text by providing a familiar structure they can follow. Abiding by CMOS's standards as a writer will allow you to:

  • Provide readers with cues they can use to follow your ideas more efficiently and to locate information of interest
  • Allow readers to focus more on your ideas by eliminating unfamiliar formatting
  • Establish your credibility or ethos in the field by demonstrating an awareness of your audience and their needs as fellow researchers

Who Should Use CMOS?

CMOS describes rules for writers and students of:

  • History
  • English
  • Art

Before you adopt this style for your paper, you should check to see what citation style your discipline uses in its journals and student research.

CMOS Formatting and Writing Style

Start by becoming familiar with the general formatting requirements of CMOS, as well as the different standards for notation that CMOS writers are expected to use. Because CMOS is different than other writing styles, you should pay attention to everything from general paper layout to word choice. The following pages will introduce you to some of the basic requirements of CMOS to get you headed in the right direction.

Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition

  • Introduction to CMOS
  • Citation system basics: the Notes and Bibliography system

General CMOS Format

  • Page layout requirements for a typical CMOS manuscript
  • Basic components of a CMOS paper, including the title page, bibliography, footnotes, and tables and figures
  • Provides an example title page and a bibliography


  • How on reference books according to CMOS, using both footnotes and a bibliography
  • Includes guidelines for  books with multiple authors and editors, edited collections, indirect sources, and self-published books
  • Suggestions and examples for each stylistic issue


  • Explains how to cite scholarly journals, both physical and electronic
  • Guidelines for magazines and newspapers

Web Sources

  • Information on capitalization and italicization of titles for websites and blogs
  • Information on sources such as online periodicals, web pages, blogs, and podcasts

Audiovisual Recordings and Other Multimedia

  • General guidelines for citing multimedia
  • Example citations for film, television, and musical recordings

Interviews and Personal Communication

  • Information on the proper formatting and discussion of interviews within a manuscript
  • Information on citing unpublished, published, and broadcasted interviews, as well as other personal communications

Lectures and Presentations

  • Citing a lecture or presentation

Legal, Public, and Unpublished Materials

  • Essential information required when citing public or unpublished material
  • Referring to court cases within the manuscript
  • Information on theses, dissertations, and letters

CMOS Author-Date Sample Paper

  • Sample paper using the Author-Date system
  • Title page, references page, and in-text citation
  • Formatting an Author-Date formatted CMOS manuscript

CMOS Notes and Bibliography Sample Paper

  • Sample paper using the Notes and Bibliography system

CMOS Author-Date PowerPoint Presentation

  • Formatting a CMOS manuscript using the Author-Date system
  • Updates from the Chicago Manual of Style (17th edition)

CMOS Notes and Bibliography PowerPoint Presentation

  • Formatting a CMOS manuscript using the Notes and Bibliography system

CMOS Author-Date Classroom Poster

  • Printable 27”x36” poster on the basics of Author-Date system
  • Offers suggestions on how to print the poster

CMOS Notes and Bibliography Classroom Poster

  • Printable poster on the basics of Notes and Bibliography system