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How to Write in Chicago Manual of Style

If you follow information and instructions from publications and Internet resources devoted to Chicago Manual of Style, then writing a formal paper isn’t as difficult as it sounds. Following all the rules can be tricky, but it’s not impossible. Follow the tips listed here, and your Chicago (Turabian) Style thesis or dissertation will be a success.

A) BIBLIOGRAPHY. As you perform the research for your paper, keep the bibliography in the back of your mind. For every idea or quote you use from one of your sources, you will have to cite the idea in the paper and list the source in the bibliography. Even if you choose to use footnotes with your Chicago Manual of Style paper, you probably will want to create a bibliography. When you pull information from sources, make sure you collect extensive information about each source for the bibliography. Having a comprehensive list will help if you need to revisit a source to find more information for your paper.

B) CITATIONS CHECKED AND RE-CHECKED. Be sure you have properly listed all of the citations in your paper, whether you chose to use in-text citations, footnotes, or endnotes. Although formatting every citation correctly can be difficult, it helps your instructor when he reads your paper. In addition, other readers must be able to find each citation in the bibliography, so it’s important to cite everything correctly. Make sure you spell all authors’ names correctly, too. Citing sources properly will ensure you don’t inadvertently commit plagiarism. If you’re unsure whether to use an in-text citation for a source, you probably should use it. It’s better to be safe than sorry when citing sources.

C) EXTERNAL SOURCES. If you are unsure about the formatting style for a particular page in your paper or for citing a source, turn to either the Chicago Style Manual or the Turabian Manual for Writers. Both books have hundreds of examples for formatting formal papers. Keep in mind, however, that neither book has been updated in recent years. The latest version of the Chicago Style Manual, the 15th edition, was published in 2003. The Turabian Manual’s sixth edition was published in 1996, meaning it doesn’t contain much information on citing Internet sources, for example.

D) FOLLOW YOUR INSTRUCTOR’S INSTRUCTIONS. You may have an instructor who gives you directions for composing the thesis or dissertation that differ slightly from those in Chicago (Turabian) Style. Follow your instructor’s guidelines in those instances. Chicago Manual of Style contains many optional pages and areas where the writer has some latitude to make changes. If you are unsure how you should handle a particular aspect of your paper’s formatting, check with your instructor.

E) GRAMMAR GUIDELINES. Papers that follow proper grammar are more likely to receive favorable marks from an instructor. For example, always write in active voice, rather than passive voice. The Chicago Style Manual contains quite a few grammar-related resources.

F) PROOFREAD A FEW TIMES. Proofreading should not be done as a last-minute item; you should proofread a few times before you finish the paper. In fact, it’s best to set the paper aside for a couple of days between proofreading sessions. If you can take a break from the paper for a couple of days, you’ll be surprised how much better your proofreading sessions go with a fresh look at the paper. Depending on the importance of the paper, you may want to hire someone to do some additional proofreading for you. Keep in mind that word processing software spell checkers (such as Microsoft Word and Wordperfect) are very handy, but they do not catch every error.

G) TAKE YOUR TIME. As with most tasks, those who take their time usually achieve a better result than those who rush through the project. Hurrying unnecessarily with your Chicago (Turabian) Style paper will lead to mistakes, so take your time to ensure correct formatting. If you are forced to hurry because of an impending deadline, your writing will suffer, and you’ll make mistakes in formatting. Start early on the paper, set goals for finishing different aspects of it, such as completing the research or completing the first draft, and you’ll have a much better finished product.

H) THE WRITING MATTERS. Following the Chicago Manual of Style rules closely are an important part of creating a successful paper. However, such rules should not overwhelm your work. Instead, focus on the content of your paper and focus on the writing. If the content of your paper is lacking, it won’t matter to your instructor how closely your paper follows Chicago Style.

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