• 3-minute read
  • 27th July 2019

Referencing Tips: Chicago and Turabian Referencing

You have a choice of many referencing systems in academic writing. And many of these systems look similar at first glance. But possibly the most confusing are Chicago and Turabian style referencing. How do they differ? And does it matter which one you use? Let us explain.

1. What Are Chicago and Turabian Referencing?

When people refer to ‘Chicago referencing’, they mean the citation style set out in The Chicago Manual of Style. Sometimes known as CMoS for short, this style guide is published by the University of Chicago Press and aimed at professional scholars and publishers.

‘Turabian referencing’, meanwhile, refers to the citation style set out in Kate L. Turabian’s Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations. But rather than a separate system, Turabian is a simplified version of the CMoS citation style aimed specifically at students.

The CMoS and Turabian style guides.
The CMoS and Turabian style guides.

2. How Else Do Chicago and Turabian Differ?

In practice, there are no big differences between ‘Chicago’ and ‘Turabian’ referencing. You can see this if you look at the examples of Turabian and Chicago footnote citations for a book from the CMoS website:

1. Zadie Smith, Swing Time (New York: Penguin Press, 2016), 315–16.

2. Katie Kitamura, A Separation (New York: Riverhead Books, 2017), 25.

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As you can see, the format is identical. The same is true for other source types. There are some differences between the two style guides, but these simply reflect the Turabian style guide’s focus on students rather than publishers. As such, the Turabian guide:

  • Is significantly shorter than the full CMoS due to not including information about preparing book manuscripts and journal articles for publication.
  • Contains a section on how to write and structure a research paper.
  • Features less information on grammar, spelling, and word usage.

Turabian is therefore much better if you are only looking for advice on academic writing rather than writing and publishing in general.

3. Which Referencing System Should I Use?

The Chicago and Turabian style guides are tailored to different audiences, so you should use the one that best meets your needs. However, both style guides recommend the same approach to referencing sources, so it does not make a difference from this perspective.

In other words, advice on how to cite a source in Chicago referencing will also apply to Turabian referencing. And advice on Turabian referencing will apply to Chicago style, too. The more important question is which version of Chicago/Turabian referencing you’re using:

  • Notes and Bibliography – In this style, you reference sources in footnotes as well as giving full publication information at the end of your document.
  • Author–Date – In this referencing style, you use bracketed in-text citations plus a reference list with full publication information.

As a rule, footnote referencing is more common in the humanities, while author–date referencing is used in the physical and social sciences. However, make sure to check your course’s style guide or ask your supervisor if you are not sure which approach to use in your work.

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