Dr Abel Scribe PhD

Chicago Style for Research Papers

The Chicago Manual of Style website advises the "CMS is primarily a reference for manuscripts that will be published as books. For a master's thesis [and similar papers], you would find Kate L. Turabian, A Manual for Writers . . . much more useful."

The current (2013) eighth edition of of Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Research Papers: Chicago Style for Student & Researchers is the best yet. What started as a "booklet of guidelines" applying Chicago style to dissertations at the University of Chicago has evolved into a 448 page text. About a third is a beginner's guide to the process of doing research scholarship. The remainder is about 60% devoted to documentation—citations and references—and 40% to style, rules for abbreviations, numbers, quotations, and so on.

Chicago style supports three documentation styles: author-date, bibliography, and footnote-endnote. Journals using author-date documentation generally follow the style of the American Psychological Association. Those looking for guidance using the author-date style should refer to the Turabian manual. The Chicago bibliography and note styles are similar and the focus of this website's guide to Chicago style: CMS Basic for Research Papers.

CMS Basic for Research Papers: Contents


1.0 Text Rules Chicago Style
  • 1.1 Abbreviations/Acronyms
  • 1.2 Capitalization (Titles)
  • 1.3 Compound Words
  • 1.4 Emphasis (Italics/Quotes)
  • 1.5 Numbers & Dates
2.0 Page Layout
  • 2.1 Title & Text Pages
  • 2.2 Headings & Lists
  • 2.3 Quotations
  • 2.4 Tables & Figures
3.0 Endnotes/Footnotes
  • 3.1 Page Layout
  • 3.2 Books & References
  • 3.3 Articles in Periodicals
  • 3.4 Documents & Reports
4.0 Bibliographies
  • 4.1 Page Layout
  • 4.2 Books & References
  • 4.3 Articles in Periodicals
  • 4.4 Documents & Reports

pointer  CMS BASIC.PDF is an abridged version of the web pages, available to download.

CMS Basic. Do away with the first part of the Turabian manual, an elementary guide to "Research and Writing: From Planning to Production," and there are still over three hundred pages on documentation and style. The focus is less on class papers and more on dissertations, true to its roots. CMS Basic seeks to abstract the essential features of the style. The first section covers text rules, things that might catch the eye of someone familiar with the style, such as when to write out numbers and when to use numerals. The second section features page layout. The third and forth, documentation in endnote-footnote and bibliography styles.

Ambiguous and Contingent? Universities usually have their own style requirements for dissertations. The Turabian manual acknowledges this, but often leaves instructions vague, suggesting the user defer to their instructor or university guidelines. CMS Basic follows conventions broadly shared with other styles. For example, MLA (Modern Language Association) style combines the title page with the first text page, there is no separate title page. The Turabian manual suggests you can do the same, but isn't quite sure. CMS Basic is.

square  You are welcome to print, link, or distribute CMS Basic for not-for-profit educational purposes. Instructors may use the guide in their classrooms. No additional permission is required.

Copyright Law (TOP)

square You Cannot Copyright a Style. By law (17 U.S.C. 102(b)) "the original and creative word sequences in [a text] are protected by copyright, but a writing style itself is in the public domain, no matter how original it is" (The Copyright Handbook, 3rd. ed., by Stephen Fishman, 1998, Berkeley, CA: Nolo Press). You cannot copyright a research (or any) style, nor can you copyright a language, even a programming language. They belong to everyone.

The rationale for this is not hard to understand. If, for example, you wrote a book and stored it on your PC in Microsoft Word, would it then belong to Microsoft? After all, it's in their word processor format and style. How about copyrighting all the works in the style of William Shakespeare, the style of painting of Rembrandt, or even that of Rock'n Roll? If you could secure a copyright on a style, then you would own the copyright on everything published in that style. More recently the courts have denied copyright protection to programming languages, even those invented by Microsoft and IBM!

Fair Use (TOP)

square Copyright laws provide for the fair use of copyrighted material for educational purposes, reviews, and scholarship. The following is reproduced from the U.S. Copyright Office website:

One of the rights accorded to the owner of copyright is the right to reproduce or to authorize others to reproduce the work in copies or phonorecords. This right is subject to certain limitations found in sections 107 through 118 of the Copyright Act (title 17, U. S. Code). One of the more important limitations is the doctrine of "fair use." Although fair use was not mentioned in the previous copyright law, the doctrine has developed through a substantial number of court decisions over the years. This doctrine has been codified in section 107 of the copyright law.

The distinction between "fair use" and infringement may be unclear and not easily defined. There is no specific number of words, lines, or notes that may safely be taken without permission. Acknowledging the source of the copyrighted material does not substitute for obtaining permission.

square Fair Use Applied. The American Psychological Association (APA) has a reputation for closely guarding its published material. The current APA Publications Manual (2009) gives this definition of fair use:

APA policy permits authors to use . . . a maximum of three figures or tables from a journal article or book chapter, single text extracts of fewer than 400 words, or a series of text extracts that total fewer than 800 words without requesting formal permission from APA (APA, 2009, 173).

Given the APA's reputation this probably the most conservative limit to fair use their legal department can come up with. Or, they may be tired of endless requests for permission to quote small amounts of material. In any case CMS Basic is in compliance with this standard.