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Chicago Manual of Style formats for citing web research

The Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), the doyenne of university publishing,  has two documentation styles for references. 

  • One style is used mainly by scientists and social scientists. It closely resembles the style of the APA Style Guide. 

  • The other style, used more in humanities, calls for footnotes or endnotes and an optional bibliography. 

Both styles use a hanging indent, where the first line extends out to the left, and the rest of the citation is indented in from the left margin. Our examples are for the humanities. 

The CMS offers some models for documenting electronic sources, but it isn't as complete as other style manuals. If you must use the CMS, you may have to ask what electronic referencing style you should use. When in doubt, the CMS recommends that you follow the Online! style or the International Federation of Library Association and Institution's recommended styles. Your other option is to follow our derived examples, where we adapt the CMS style to Web citations.




Web Site—Use either the derived CMS or the Online! style.

Derived CMS Style

FindLaw, 1994-2001. http://www.findlaw.com (22 May 2001).

 Online! Style

 FindLaw Home Page. <http://www.findlaw.com> (22 May 2001).


To reference a specific page at a site:

 Derived CMS Style

 FindLaw, “FindLaw: Legal Professionals,” 1994-2001.
            http://guide.lp.findlaw.com/01topics/ (22 May 2001).

 Online! Style

 FindLaw: Legal Professionals Page. <http://www.findlaw.com/lpp.htm> (22 May 2001).

Articles or a Specific Document from a Web Site—Use the Online! style to cite an article with an identified author and an article without an author.

 An article with an identified author:

 Daza, Joyce. (2001). Technology Planning: “What Small Business Needs to Know. “
            Technology Today, 36. <http://www.atc-1.com/technologytip.htm> (12 June

 An article with no author identified:

 “From Infrastructure to Structured Cabling: Why Spend the Extra.” (2001) Convergence,
            51. <http://scs.com/news/stc.html> (3 June 2001).

Online DatabasesOnline! does not provide specific suggestions on how to source information from online databases. Here is how we suggest you cite an online database to maintain CMS consistency.

 Blue, Carolyn L. (1996) “Preventing Back Injuries Among Nurses.” Orthopaedic Nursing,
            15.6: 19-4. InfoTrac SearchBank: Health Reference Center - Academic. File
            #P196874. (12 Mar. 2001).

 E-mail—Even though you may consider e-mail communications from individuals as personal communications, using the CMS derived style, you should include them in the reference list. The author goes first, the email address is next. This is followed by the topic, the date the email was sent, a notation that it was a personal email, and the date accessed.

Chavez, Rita P. <rpc@qwest.net> “Wound Care.” 28 June 2001. Personal email (29
            June, 2001).

 Discussion Group—Discussion group information is not treated as a personal communication. It is cited by listing the author, the topic, followed by the discussion list in italics, the originating Web address and the date received.

Racion, Ellie. <eracion@spark.net> “Issues in Wound Care.” 19 May 2001.
            <http://www.hyporoctes.admin.ubc.edu (11 June 2001).

 Newsgroup—The rule for citing information derived from a newsgroup is very similar to citing information from a discussion list. Start with the author, the author's email address, the topic, followed by the newsgroup name, the URL, and the date retrieved.

Lieberman, Daniel. <dlman@fast.net> “Reply to A Bifurcation of the PRC Proponent.” 28
            May 2001. news: misc.publicregulatoryissues. http://www.nmregulatorywatch.com
            (29 May 2001).

 Chat Sessions—Use the same guidelines as you would for a discussion group or news group, depending on the information you have available.

 List messages—Referencing an email from a LISTSERV® service is exactly the same as for a newsgroup. List the author's name (if known), the author's email in angle brackets, the subject line from the posting in quotation markets, the date of posting or publication, the address of the listserv in angle brackets and the date of access in parentheses.

 Wilshire, Mary. <mary_wilshire@mailbox.btm.edu> “Final Test Preparation.” 25 May
            2001. <alebus01@btm.edu> (31 May 2001).

FTP site—First, give the author's name (if known), the title of the document in quotation marks, the date of the publication if known, the address of the FTP site, the full path to follow to find the document, if necessary, and the date of access.

Mathews, Keith. “CALC: Number Theory Calculator.” 22 Jan 2001. <ftp://
            maths.uq.edu.au/pub/krm/calc/>(29 May 2001).

Telnet Site—Here is how to cite information you retrieved from one of these sites. Start with the author's name or alias. Follow it with the title of the work quotation marks. Then insert the title of the full work or telnet site in italics (or underlined), the date of the publication, the protocol (telnet) with the complete telnet address, and instructions on how to access it, and finally the date, enclosed in parentheses, that the material was retrieved. Skip anything that you can't find

Lepkey, Gay. “Selected Railway Photo Listing.” Canadian National Archives. 23 Oct.
            2000 telnet.ncf.carleton.ca login as guest, go freeplace (28 May 2001).

GOPHER SitesYou know the drill. Start out with author's name if you know it, the title of the document in quotation marks, the date, print publication information, italicized or underline, the URL in brackets, and the date of access in parentheses.

Jamal, Til. “Global Issues - Biotechnology in Food Production.” 1997. India
            International Information Programs. <Gopher://gopher.iiip.org.india:
            80/120/gbi/1997/gbi97.11> (31 May 2001)


Harnack, A., and E. Kleppinger. 1997. Online! New York: St. Martin's Press.

University of Chicago Press Editorial Staff. 1993. A Manual of Style, 14th Edition. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press.

———. 2001. The Chicago Manual of Style FAQ (and not so FAQ).

Walker, J., and J. Ruszkiewicz. 2000. Writing@online.edu. New York: Addison-Wesley Educational.

Thanks to our co-citationologist, Joyce Daza, for her many contributions to these articles.


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