Chicago Referencing – How to Cite a Book
  • 3-minute read
  • 28th April 2023

Chicago Referencing – How to Cite a Book

The Chicago Manual of Style actually sets out rules for two separate citation styles: in-text author–date citations and a footnote/bibliography system. Depending on your outlook, this dual system is either usefully versatile or unhelpfully confusing!

Nevertheless, whichever approach you’re using, it’s vital that you know how to cite a book correctly. On our academic blog today, we run through the basics for doing this using both approaches. This post has been updated in line with the Chicago Manual of Style 17th Edition.

Author–Date Citations

As with many parenthetical referencing systems, Chicago-style author–date citations require you to provide the author’s surname and the date of publication in the main text when referencing a source.

A citation of a book by cheeky French philosopher Paul Ricoeur would, therefore, appear as:

Interpretation involves the metaphorical and speculative domains of meaning (Ricoeur 1978).

If the author is named in the text, only the year is required in the citation. The only other thing you’ll need to provide in in-text citations are relevant page numbers when quoting a source:

Ricoeur (1978, 17) states that “metaphor is defined in terms of movement.”

All cited texts should then be added to a reference list at the end of your document, with sources listed alphabetically by author surname and full publication details provided. For a book, this includes:

Author Surname, First Name. Year of Publication. Title. City of Publication: Publisher.

In Ricoeur’s case, this translates to:

Ricoeur, Paul. 1978. The Rule of Metaphor. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul.


The other form of Chicago referencing places citations in footnotes, as indicated by superscript numbers in the main text (e.g., 1, 2, 3). The information required for the first citation of a book is:

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n. Author Name, Title (City of Publication: Publisher, Year), Page Number(s).

Returning to our philosopher friend, the first footnote for The Rule of Metaphor would therefore appear as:

1. Paul Ricoeur, The Rule of Metaphor (London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978), 24.

Subsequent citations of the same text can be shortenedd to just author surname, a shortened version of the book title and the relevant page number (or “pinpoint reference,” as it is otherwise known):

2. Ricoeur, Rule of Metaphor, 112.

As well as footnotes, this version of Chicago referencing lists all cited texts in a bibliography at the end of the document.

The information required is similar to the first footnote, but with slightly different punctuation and the author name reversed so that sources can be listed alphabetically by surname:

Ricoeur, Paul. The Rule of Metaphor. London: Routledge & Kegan Paul, 1978.

A Final Thought

Since these two versions of Chicago referencing are very different, the single most important thing you can do before you begin writing is check which version is specified by your style guide.

Also, it’s worth mentioning that Paul Ricoeur would probably have rejected being described as “cheeky.” Nevertheless, it’s how we prefer to think of him.

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