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CMS Format: Writing in Chicago Style

CMS Format

CMS refers to a research format described in the Chicago Manual of Style. This format is often used for history, philosophy and religion papers; instructors in other disciplines may also prefer CMS format.

Capitalizing Titles

Use headline-style capitalization for titles:


  • The first and last word of the title
  • The first word after a colon
  • All nouns, pronouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and subordinating conjunctions

Do not capitalize:

  • Articles (a, an and the)
  • Coordinating conjunctions (for, and, nor, but, or, yet, so)
  • Prepositions

"Explaining the Relation between Birth Order and Intelligence"

The Theory of the Novel

Using Quotation Marks

Use quotation marks for:

  • Prose quotations under five lines long
  • Verse quotations under two lines long
  • Titles of short works contained within a longer work, such as periodical articles, book chapters, reference book entries, tv episodes, songs/poems, etc.,

Use single quotation marks (apostrophes) for quotes inside quotes:

Max Stark points out, "The difference between 'annoyance' and 'harassment' is clear."

Using Italics

Use italics for:

  • Titles of self-contained works such as books, magazines, journals, newspapers, plays, movies, television series, websites, etc.

                        Coming of Age in Samoa; Psychology Today; WebMD

  • Non-English words that may not be familiar to the reader.

Critics have called the movie the director's tour de force.

  • Names of legal cases

Brown v. Board of Education

  • First use of key terms defined in your paper

Many of the poet's sonnets are written in the Shakespearean or English style.


Within the text of your paper, write out:

  • Numbers from one through one hundred
  • Round numbers ending in the words hundred, thousand, million, etc.
  • Numbers at the beginning of a sentence
  • References to times of day in increments of hours, half hours, and quarter hours:

            The meeting began at seven-thirty in the morning.

Use numerals for:

  • Numbers over one hundred, except as above
  • Multiple related numbers in one sentence:

The researchers tested 100 children, 84 in public school and 16 in private school.

  • Percentages and decimals:

Only 4% of the graduates attended, down 86% from the previous year.

  •  References to exact times of day:

The meeting began at 7:34 a.m.

  • Parts of published works: chapter 3, page 437
  • Equations and formulas

Exception: In papers that use a great deal of numeric information, spell out only numbers of one digit; use numerals for all others: In two days, 89 subjects were tested.


Abbreviations should be used sparingly in the text of your paper; in many cases the full term, followed by the abbreviation in parentheses, should be used on first reference:

                 He graduated from Laramie County Community College (LCCC) in 2018.

  • Abbreviations written in capital letters (e.g. acronyms) should not include periods:


  • Abbreviations written in lower-case letters usually include periods:

11:24 a.m.

  • A shortened form of a word used as a title before a name should be followed by a period and a space:

Capt. Mitchell

  • Initials used in a name should be followed by periods and spaces:

C. S. Lewis

Do not abbreviate:

  • Days of the week or months
  • Units of measurement, except in scientific papers