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CMOS Style Workshop


This workshop provides an overview of citation practices in the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) and where to find help with different CMOS resources on the OWL. It provides an annotated list of links to all of our CMOS materials as well as a general CMOS overview.

Welcome to the OWL Workshop on Chicago Style! This workshop will introduce you to important aspects of using the Chicago Manual of Style (CMOS) for writing and formatting research papers. You should begin with the introductory material, which covers what CMOS is, why it is used, and who should apply it to their work. You are then invited to work through the OWL’s handouts on CMOS Formatting and Style.

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 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 usually find at your local library or in many bookstores.

The CMOS also has a website that allows you to order the manual online and read some of their frequently asked questions about CMOS.

What is CMOS?

CMOS establishes written standards of communication concerning:

  • formatting and page layout
  • stylistic techniques (e.g. footnotes, quotations)
  • citing sources
  • and 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 to them
  • Allow readers to focus more on your ideas by not distracting them with 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 the preparation of manuscripts for writers and students in:

  • 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 for student research. If CMOS is appropriate for your writing project, then use this workshop to learn more about CMOS and how to follow its rules correctly in your own work.

CMOS Formatting and Writing Style

You should 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 these basic requirements of CMOS to get you started in the right direction.

Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition

  • Introduces CMOS
  • Covers the basic requirements of a Notes and Bibliography-style paper for a typical CMOS manuscript

General CMOS Format

  • Covers the basic page layout requirements for a typical CMOS manuscript
  • Includes general guidelines for the basic components of a CMOS paper, including the title page, bibliography, footnotes, and tables and figures
  • Also provides images of a title page and a bibliography


  • Guides you through constructing references for citing books, both in footnotes and in the bibliography
  • Includes guidelines for a variety of books, books with varying numbers of authors and editors, edited collections, indirect sources, and self-published books
  • Suggestions and examples are given for each stylistic issue


  • Explains how to cite scholarly journals, both physical and electronic
  • Offers guidelines for magazines and newspapers as well

Web Sources

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

Audiovisual Recordings and Other Multimedia

  • Provides general guidelines for citing multimedia
  • Gives example citations for film, television, and musical recordings

Interviews and Personal Communication

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

Lectures and Presentations

  • Lists possible situations for citing a lecture or presentation
  • Offers guidelines to cite lectures or presentations

Legal, Public, and Unpublished Materials

  • Gives the essential information required when citing public or unpublished material
  • Offers guidelines on referring to court cases within the manuscript, as well as guidelines for their citation
  • Includes information on theses, dissertations, and letters

CMOS Author Date Sample Paper

  • Contains a sample paper in the Author Date format
  • Shows title page, references page, and in-text citation
  • Details formatting required for an Author Date style CMOS manuscript

CMOS NB Sample Paper

  • Provides the same information as the Author Date sample paper using the formatting guidelines of the NB style

CMOS Author Date PowerPoint Presentation

  • Summarizes the basics of CMOS in a PowerPoint
  • Includes information on formatting a CMOS manuscript, in-text citations for the Author Date style, and documenting sources
  • Explains updates to the 17th edition of CMOS

CMOS NB PowerPoint Presentation

  • Provides the same information as the Author Date PowerPoint presentation using the formatting requirements of the NB style

CMOS Author Date Classroom Poster

  • Contains a link to a printable 27”x36” jpg file that details the basics of Author-Date CMOS guidelines
  • Offers suggestions on how to print the poster and cautions that it only provides basic guidelines

CMOS NB Classroom Poster

  • Contains a similar link as the Author Date classroom poster, using NB guidelines instead