Facing the Footnote, Chicago Style

By Jacob Trujillo

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), students seem to cringe at seeing these words while reading over the syllabus. Whether you believed it to be a collegiate urban myth, or a pothole that can be easily avoided, CMS is an unexpected challenge that many students run into (especially within those exciting Core Humanities classes that all of us UNR students must eventually face). That being said, it doesn’t necessarily have to be a challenge.

As a student who has recently survived his first encounter with CMS, I can assure you that it’s not all that confusing. Whether you are quoting a source in text, or even just paraphrasing, a citation is needed. When quoting under CMS, notes are commonly used to cite a source. It’s simple; first, place a superscript numeral at the end of your reference, like so:

“In reference to St. Hilaria, another transvestite nun who was eventually discovered to be a woman in disguise, Upson-Saia affirms that, ‘it is not the presence of a woman that is considered to be threatening to the brothers, but the knowledge and the visibility of a woman’s presence.’”[1]

Starting at 1, you continue to consecutively note all of your following references throughout your work. When finished, you are then ready to begin constructing your footnotes. Footnotes are added to the bottom of each page that a reference is cited. With the start of each new source, include all of its information, including the full name of the author, title of the source, and other relevant publication facts, ending it with the page number(s) that the reference was pulled from. Any following notes from that same source can be shortened with “Ibid.” (short for ibidem, meaning “in the same place”). The new page numbers are added at the end. For example:

“Upson-Saia continues her argument, asserting that, “although the category allows the cross-dressing saint to be perceived as a “not woman,” she is also perceived to be not completely a man.’”[2]

By pulling from the same source (Kristi Uspon-Saia) for the second time, my footnote can now be significantly shorter, and ultimately much less tedious to write out in comparison to inscribing the entire reference every single time. Trust me, using “Ibid.” is a quick and easy game changer that can motivate you to utilize each of your sources to their full extent.

On another note—the endnote more specifically—CMS also provides another form of referencing. Endnotes are similar to footnotes in terms of organization: author, title, and publication information followed by page number(s). The only difference is that an endnote is attached to the end of your work, rather than to the bottom of every page. Don’t be mistaken, notes aren’t substitutes for your bibliography (you can’t easily escape that task), and the formatting for each is different.

There you have it. Footnotes and endnotes, Chicago style.

[1] Kristi Upson-Saia, Making an Appearance: Sexual Renunciation and Gender Revision in the Attire of Early Christian Female Ascetics (Duke University: ProQuest Dissertations Publishing, 2006), 221.
[1] Ibid., 241.

This entry was posted in General Writing Advice and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply