How to Cite a Thesis/ Dissertation in Chicago & Turabian

How to Cite a Thesis/ Dissertation in Chicago & Turabian
Table of Contents
  1. How to Cite a Thesis/ Dissertation in Chicago & Turabian
  2. Any Problems with a Dissertation?
  3. Importance of Proper Citing in a Theses/ Dissertation
  4. Thesis/ Dissertation Citing Specs
  5. Footnotes & Endnotes
  6. Reference to Sources
  7. Bibliography Page
  8. Footnote Citation for a Thesis or Dissertation
  9. Shortened Footnote Citations
  10. Author–Date Citations
  11. The Bibliography Entry
  12. Want to Make Sure Your Thesis is Perfect?
  13. What Does It Take to Deliver an A-Grade Dissertation?
  14. Also
  15. Book
  16. Chapter or other part of an edited book
  17. Translated book
  18. E-book

Dissertation writing is one of the prerequisites for earning a degree and obtaining an academic diploma. In order to deliver a winning project, you have to spend a lot of time reading guides, researching different thesis ideas, and working with the endless list of literature entries. Strict formatting rules create an extra obstacle to producing an A-grade paper. Therefore, many students consider dissertation writing and formatting like something huge and scary. So how to cite a thesis Chicago? Let us get all this straightened out.

If you understand the basic specs and pitfalls of the assignment, it becomes an easy task to do. Do not have time to read all those manuals and guides? You do not have to. In this post, we have gathered all the essential info about citing a thesis or dissertation in Chicago and Turabian style. 

Any Problems with a Dissertation?

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Importance of Proper Citing in a Theses/ Dissertation

Dissertation writing goes hand in hand with data research, collection, and analysis. In order to prove the relevance of your statement, it is necessary to have it proved and supported by an independent expert. This is where citations serve the purpose. A proper thesis format looks professional and will hardly be poorly graded. 

Here are some other reasons to take care of proper citing in your final academic project:

  • Demonstrate that you have done a thorough research work;
  • Give credit to other experts/ writers/ researchers;
  • Automatically solve the issue of text plagiarism;
  • Prove the credibility of your words;
  • Have every important statement from your work proved and supported;
  • Allow a reader to investigate the subject deeper by following your references.

Using citations from reliable sources is a good way to support your own thoughts and claims, without causing doubt in a reader. Prove your key arguments and let the commission clearly see the importance of your investigation and academic work.

Thesis/ Dissertation Citing Specs

There are two systems of reference formatting Turabian and Chicago styles. So how to cite a thesis Chicago? Choose the option that works best for you.

  • Notes and bibliography system - Using such a system in your text, you are to link a citation to a footnote/ endnote. According to the guidelines of the 16th edition, you should then alphabetically list sources in the Works Cited section or Bibliography at the end of your work; 
  • In-text citation system - The system presupposes that you write references (with the author's name, work’s publication year, and the page number) as you cite an external work. At the end of the manuscript, you are to provide a Reference List with all the sources in alphabetical order. 

Regardless of the system you select, make sure to follow all the rules from this Chicago manual throughout your document.

Footnotes & Endnotes 

In order to cite sources and/ or provide relevant commentary in a proper way, you need to use footnotes. Include a footnote each time you make mention of a source, no matter whether you quote the author directly or just paraphrase the formulation. These should be added at the end of every page where you refer to a source, while endnotes are to be listed at the end of the entire document or chapter. Place note numbers at the end of the sentence (or a clause) they refer to.

Note numbers should begin with “1” and follow consecutively throughout your dissertation. In the text, footnote numbers are superscripted, whereas full-sized numbers are used for endnotes. The latter should be followed by a period and include the info about the source entry (specifically - a full name of an author, a shortened form of the title (approx. 4 words), and page numbers).

See the below examples to format footnote, endnote, and bibliography entry properly. You may use them as a template to refer to.


        1Mariah Burton Nelson, The Stronger Female Gets, the Better (New York: Harcourt Grace, 1998), 68.


        1. Mariah Burton Nelson, The Stronger Female Gets, the Better: Sexism in the American Culture (New York: Harcourt Grace, 1998), 68.

Bibliography entry (applicable to both):

Nelson, Mariah Burton. The Stronger Female Gets, the Better: Sexism in the American 

        Culture. New York: Harcourt Grace, 1998.

Pay attention to the following formatting rules as you format footnotes and endnotes in your bachelor thesis or dissertation and decide on how to cite a thesis Chicago:

  • Notes are indented like all other paragraphs;
  • Begin each note with its reference number, write it not as a subscript but as a regular text;
  • Put a period between the note number and the detailed source description;
  • Make footnotes and endnotes single-spaced and put one blank line between notes;
  • If you cite the same source twice, shorten the note - leave just the name of the author and the page of the source.

Reference to Sources

Remember how titles of different sources are to be formatted in order not to confuse the reader. 

Italics Quotation marks
Books Journal publications
Edited collections Articles from any edition
Movies Television series episodes
Documents Song titles

The formatting rule is applicable to sources no matter where they are mentioned - either in the text, in the note, or in the Bibliography. Use title case for all types of source entries, be it a journal article, a book title, or a song.

Bibliography Page

According to the specs from the Chicago manual style 16th edition, every dissertation and thesis should have a reference list at the end of the work. Provide a list of sources cited in the paper at the end of your dissertation and name it “Bibliography.” The page label should be centered and written at the top of the page. You can simply list all the sources right under the label. 

Leave two blank lines between the “Bibliography” label and the first list entry, whereas it is enough to have one blank line between the remaining entries. Arrange all source entries in the alphabetical order (be guided by the author’s surname) and make the first line of every entry flush left.

Footnote Citation for a Thesis or Dissertation

The Chicago Manual of Style’s footnote referencing system uses superscript numbers to point to citations. The footnote format for a thesis or dissertation in Chicago referencing is similar to the one used for a book. The main difference is that you should use quote marks instead of italics for the title:

n. Author name, “Title of paper” (type of paper, academic institution, year of completion), page number, URL/database name (document ID).

Of course, you only need to give a URL or database name and ID if you accessed the paper online! To cite page 42 of John Smith’s printed PhD thesis, then, your footnote would look like this:

1. John Smith, “Useful Ideas for Research” (PhD diss., University of Learning, 2006), 42.

If you’re citing only an abstract, simply add the word “abstract” after the title:

2. Tom Persson, “Great Thoughts and Stuff,” abstract, (master’s thesis, Educational Establishment of City Name Here, 2012), 81,

For repeat citations, use the standard shortened footnote format.

Shortened Footnote Citations

In Chicago footnote referencing, after giving full source information in the first footnote, you can shorten subsequent citations of the same source to prevent repetition. These shortened footnotes should include the author’s surname, a shortened title, and the page(s) cited:

  1. Alan C. Jenkins, Wildlife in the City: Animals, Birds, Reptiles, Insects and Plants in an Urban Landscape (London: Holt & Company, 1983), 13.
  2. Esther Woolfson, Corvus: A Life with Birds (London: Granta Publications, 2008), 234.
  3. Jenkins, Wildlife in the City, 102.

If citing two people with the same surname in your work, make sure to include the initial of the person you are citing again as well as their surname.

Author–Date Citations

Chicago referencing also has an author–date system, which uses in-text citations. To reference the same source more than once in this, all you have to do is give the same citation again:

Alan Jenkins (1983) describes how birds of prey survive in urban settings. He says that peregrine falcons are a “spectacular example of adaptive behavior” (Jenkins 1983, 13).

All you need to do with repeat author–date citations, then, is make sure they are consistent!

The Bibliography Entry

The bibliography entry for a thesis or dissertation will be similar to the first footnote citation. However, there are a few differences in the format:

  • You will need to use a full stop between each element, not a comma.
  • The first author’s name should be inverted (i.e., “Surname, First Name”)
  • You do not need parentheses for the additional paper information (i.e., the paper type, institution, and year of completion).
  • No page number is required.

So, bibliography entries for these sources should look like this:

Author Surname, Author First Name. “Title of paper.” Type of paper, academic institution, year of completion. URL/database ID.

Thus, you would present your bibliography entries as follows:

Persson, Tom. “Great Thoughts and Stuff.” Abstract. Master’s thesis, Educational Establishment of City Name Here, 2012.

Smith, John. “Useful Ideas for Research.” PhD diss., University of Learning, 2006.

The points above will help you cite a dissertation or thesis in Chicago footnote referencing. Want further help checking your references and writing are error free? Our team of expert proofreaders is available 24/7.

Want to Make Sure Your Thesis is Perfect?

Once you are done with your final academic project, you can get a professional proofreader and have any issue quickly resolved.

What Does It Take to Deliver an A-Grade Dissertation?

It is easy to get a high grade for your final assignment if the subject is properly researched and the key information is properly cited. Thus, you can avoid the issue of plagiarism and make your paper look professional and evidence-baked.


The following examples illustrate the notes and bibliography system. Sample notes show full citations followed by shortened citations for the same sources.



  1. Zadie Smith, Swing Time (New York: Penguin Press, 2016), 315–16.
  2. Brian Grazer and Charles Fishman, A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life (New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015), 12.

Shortened notes

  1. Smith, Swing Time, 320.
  2. Grazer and Fishman, Curious Mind, 37.

Bibliography entries (in alphabetical order)

Grazer, Brian, and Charles Fishman. A Curious Mind: The Secret to a Bigger Life. New York: Simon & Schuster, 2015.

Smith, Zadie. Swing Time. New York: Penguin Press, 2016.

Chapter or other part of an edited book

In a note, cite specific pages. In the bibliography, include the page range for the chapter or part.

Henry David Thoreau, “Walking,” in The Making of the American Essay, ed. John D’Agata (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016), 177–78.

Shortened note
Thoreau, “Walking,” 182.

Bibliography entry
Thoreau, Henry David. “Walking.” In The Making of the American Essay, edited by John D’Agata, 167–95. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016.

In some cases, you may want to cite the collection as a whole instead.


John D’Agata, ed., The Making of the American Essay (Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016), 177–78.

Shortened note

D’Agata, American Essay, 182.

Bibliography entry

D’Agata, John, ed. The Making of the American Essay. Minneapolis: Graywolf Press, 2016.

Translated book


Jhumpa Lahiri, In Other Words, trans. Ann Goldstein (New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016), 146.

Shortened note

Lahiri, In Other Words, 184.

Bibliography entry

Lahiri, Jhumpa. In Other Words. Translated by Ann Goldstein. New York: Alfred A. Knopf, 2016.


For books consulted online, include a URL or the name of the database. For other types of e-books, name the format. If no fixed page numbers are available, cite a section title or a chapter or other number in the notes, if any (or simply omit).


  1. Herman Melville, Moby-Dick; or, The Whale (New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851), 627,
  2. Philip B. Kurland and Ralph Lerner, eds., The Founders’ Constitution (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987), chap. 10, doc. 19,
  3. Brooke Borel, The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016), 92, ProQuest Ebrary.
  4. Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice (New York: Penguin Classics, 2007), chap. 3, Kindle.

Shortened notes

  1. Melville, Moby-Dick, 722–23.
  2. Kurland and Lerner, Founders’ Constitution, chap. 4, doc. 29.
  3. Borel, Fact-Checking, 104–5.
  4. Austen, Pride and Prejudice, chap. 14.

Bibliography entries (in alphabetical order)

Austen, Jane. Pride and Prejudice. New York: Penguin Classics, 2007. Kindle.

Borel, Brooke. The Chicago Guide to Fact-Checking. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2016. ProQuest Ebrary.

Kurland, Philip B., and Ralph Lerner, eds. The Founders’ Constitution. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1987.

Melville, Herman. Moby-Dick; or, The Whale. New York: Harper & Brothers, 1851.

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