Turabian Style Guide With Examples

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Introduction to Turabian Style

Grace Fleming

Turabian Style was developed especially for students by Kate Turabian, the woman who worked for many years as the dissertation secretary at the University of Chicago. This style is a sub-style of sorts that is based on the Chicago Style of writing.

Turabian Style is used mainly for history papers, but it is sometimes used in other disciplines.

Why would Kate Turabian take it upon herself to come up with a special system? In short, to help students. The Chicago Style is a standard that is used for formatting scholarly books. Turabian knew that most students are concerned with writing papers, so she narrowed the focus and refined the rules specifically for paper writing.

The style basically omits some of the information that is relevant for publishing, but Turabian Style does depart in some other ways from Chicago Style.

Turabian Style allows writers to choose from two systems of citing information. You will choose one or the other. Never try to mix these methods!

  • 1. Notes and Bibliography Method: In this method, students will use footnotes or endnotes in the text and a bibliography at the end of the paper.
  • 2. Parenthetical Method: In this method, students will use in-text citations (similar to those used in MLA Style papers). Those papers would also include a reference list of works cited at the end.

This tutorial will focus on the notes and bibliography method.

Generally, the feature that sets Turabian Style apart from MLA is the use of endnotes or footnotes, so this is most likely the style that most instructors will expect to see in your paper. This means, if a teacher instructs you to use Turabian Style and does not specify which citation system to use, it’s probably best to go with notes and bibliography style.

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Endnotes and Footnotes in Turabian Style


When to use a Footnote or Endnote

As you write your paper you will want to use quotations from a book or other source. You must always provide a citation for a quote to show its origin.

Also, you must provide a citation for any information that is not common knowledge. This may sound a little vague, because it’s not a perfect science, determining whether something is commonly known. Common knowledge can vary by age or geography.

Whether or not something is common knowledge is not always clear, so the best idea is to provide a citation for important facts that you bring up if you have any doubt.


Common knowledge: Chickens usually lay white or brown eggs.

Not common knowledge: Some chickens lay blue and green eggs.

You may also use a footnote/endnote to clarify a passage that may confuse some writers. For instance, you may mention in your paper that the story of Frankenstein was written during a friendly writing game among friends. Many readers may know this, but others may want an explanation.

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How to Insert a Footnote

Microsoft product screen shot reprinted with permission from Microsoft Corporation.

To Insert a Footnote or Endnote

  1. Make sure your cursor is placed in the exact spot where you want your note (number) to appear.
  2. In most word processing programs, go to Reference to find footnote options.
  3. Click either Footnotes or Endnotes (whichever you want to use in your paper).
  4. Once you select either Footnote or Endnote, the superscript (number) will appear on the page. Your cursor will jump to the bottom (or end) of the page and you will have the opportunity to type the citation or other information. 
  5. When you finish typing the note, you will simply scroll back to your text and continue writing your paper.

Formatting and numbering of the notes are automatic in word processors, so you don’t have to worry about spacing and placement too much. The software will also automatically re-number your notes if you delete one or you decide to insert one at a later time.​

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Turabian Citation for a Book

In Turabian citations, you will always italicize or underline the name of a book and put the title of an article in quotation marks. The citations follow the style shown above.

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Turabian Citation for a Book With Two Authors

Follow the style guide above if the book has two authors.

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Citation for an Edited Book With Stories Inside

An edited book may contain many articles or stories written by different authors.

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Notice how the author's name changes from the footnote to the bibliography.

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Encyclopedia Citation in Turabian

You should list a citation for an encyclopedia in the footnote, but you don't need to include it in your bibliography.