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Understanding the Rules of Chicago Manual of Style to Format Your Academic Paper
by Peter Gallagher
Appling the rules of Chicago Manual of Style to your academic paper (i.e., dissertation, thesis, research paper) is uncomplicated and easier to use than APA or MLA style. Many professors use Chicago Style in high school English classes to teach students the importance of citing sources and formatting text in a specific and uniform way. In this article I have provided information to help you master the fundamental rules of this style. You can also apply these rules to Turabian Style, since this lesser-known style is similar to and often combined with Chicago Style.
A) ABBREVIATING. Abbreviations are more acceptable in academic papers than they were ten years ago. If you need to abbreviate, use the customary, well-known ones, such as AIDS or ADHD. One exception is not to abbreviate phrases of ranges, such as "yards" or "miles." If your abbreviation contains two periods, such as "U.K." or "N.J.," do not include a space after the first period.
B) TEXT ALIGNMENT. Chicago Manual of Style instructs you to justify all text to the left (excluding indentions), but you may also use ragged right justification or use full (block) justification. If you opt for full justification, you must make sure that you space minimally between words and you hyphenate text properly and moderately. Your word processing software should allow you to comply with these two guidelines for full justification, except if you have many multi-syllable big words in your paper.
C) CAPITALIZING. Chicago Manual of Style lets you apply two kinds of capitalization. Use "headline-style" capitalization to capitalize all words, aside from articles, some prepositions, and conjunctions. Use "sentence-style" capitalization to capitalize only the first word, a word following a colon, and proper nouns.
D) WHITE OUT. You can apply white correcting fluid to mask black dots and stray spots on the final paper.
E) DATE FORMAT. You can use either one of two date formats: 23 April 2012 (day month year) or April 23, 2012 (month day, year). When you choose one format, you must stick with the same one throughout your paper. Do not use a combination of the two.
F) FONT STYLE. Always use a Serif font, such as Times New Roman, for the primary text of your paper. Use a font size between 10 and 12-point size. I prefer a 12-point size. These days you shouldn't be using a typewriter. A computer-generated font is exceedingly better than any mechanical type because it creates perfect italicized and solid bold-face text.
G) WHEN TO HYPHENATE. You can hyphenate words at the end of a line in your primary text, but you should avoid hyphenating words at the end of two successive lines.
H) WHEN TO INDENT TEXT. Indent paragraphs within the primary text of your paper one-and-a-half inch or approximately 5-8 spaces. Chicago Style does not mandate a precise measure of indention, but you must use the same space of indention in your entire paper.
I) MARGIN SIZES. Use the standard 1-inch margin on all four sides of your paper. However, if you are going to bind your paper on the left side, then you can use a wider left margin.
J) NUMBERS. Always spell out and use words for each number, one through one hundred. For numbers exceeding 100, use basic numerals. Adhere to these exceptions: 1) spell out every number that begins a sentence; 2) use numerals for every percentage and decimal number; and 3) use numerals for every number within a set of amounts.
K) NUMBERING YOUR PAGES. Use Arabic numerals to number every page in your paper, EXCEPT FOR pages that introduce the body text, such as 1) the copyright page; 2) the dedication page; and 3) the table of contents page. Chicago Style dubs these pages as "display" pages, and you must number these pages with lowercase Roman numerals.
Do NOT put a number on the title page, but you MUST count the title page as part of the "display" pages.
The next page is left blank unless you use a Copyright page. You do NOT number the Copyright page (or the blank page) either.
Number the next page (after the copyright/blank page) "iii" in Roman numerals, centered at the bottom of the page.
When you begin the main (body) text, change from Roman numerals to Arabic numbers. Put the number "1" in the upper-right corner of the page. If your page has a chapter heading or a main heading, you can center the Arabic numeral at the bottom of the page.
Number all blank pages, including any other pages. Your page number must run consecutively. Position all page numbers about three-quarters of an inch from the side of the paper.
L) PAPER TYPE. Use standard 20-pound regular white bond paper that is 8.5-by-11 inches.
M) SPACING. Double-space between sentences and paragraphs for your entire paper's body text. However, you can single-space block captions, endnotes, footnotes, headings, and quotations.
N) TITLE. Center all text on the title page, using both horizontal and vertical alignment. Uppercase all text and double-space too.
© Peter Gallagher, Brian Scott, LousyWriter.com