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Always consult your syllabus and assignment sheets. They may differ from information you see here (or anywhere else) on citing your sources and formatting your paper!

What is the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS)?

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), currently in its 17th edition, was developed by the University of Chicago Press and debuted in 1906. It is a popular style manual for social sciences and history. 

Paper Formatting

Why does paper formatting matter? Using a consistent style helps the reader focus on your content, rather than your formatting.

See formatting tip sheets here.


Align to the left margin. Leave the right margin uneven. Do not use full justification.

Do not insert manual breaks in words at the end of a line.


No specific font is specified, but the font chosen should be readable and widely available. Common choices include Times New Roman (12 point) and Arial (10 point). Use the same font throughout the paper.


Indent the first line of each paragraph 0.5 inches from the left margin. This is typically the default setting of the tab key in your word processing program. The title page and all headings should follow the rules for these areas.

All lines of block quotations should be indented 0.5 inches from the left margin.

Line Spacing:

The main text of the paper should be double-spaced. Figure captions and table titles should be single-spaced. For the table of contents, footnotes & endnotes, and bibliographies, single-space, but add a blank line before and after each item.


Margins should be 1 inch on all sides, unless otherwise specified.

Page Numbers:

Page numbers are typically in the top right corner. The title page has no page number.


The rules on headings in CMS are somewhat flexible. Each section should have a subhead, with the same font size and style used for each time you use that level. There should be at least two subheads per paper (or two per chapter, if chapters are included).

Subheads may be centered or flush left. First level heads should be more eye-catching (such as bold) than second-level heads (such as italic).

Never end a page with a subhead.

View an example of subheads in a CMS paper.

Title Page Format:

The title page should include the following: paper title, author, and any information requested by your instructor (such as course name, instructor name, and/or due date).

Use the same font as the main text. Begin about 1/3 way down the page.

All text on the title page should be in the same font as the main text, centered, and double-spaced.

The title and subtitle should be bold. The font size may be two or three points larger than the main text, if you wish.

View an example title page.

Reference List

"Resources for Students." The Chicago Manual of Style Online. Accessed August 24, 2020.