What is author-date style?

Author-date style

In a previous post, we described notes and bibliography citations. Today, we’ll describe a different citation system called “author-date” style. In author-date style, note citations appear in the text of your paper like this (Chou 2013). Full citations are then listed together in an alphabetical “reference list” at the end of the paper.

In-text citations

In the text of your paper, cite sources in parentheses using just the author’s last name and the year of the work. Chicago style does not put a comma between the name and year. Such notes are called “author-date” citations.

(Stickler 2013)
(Noggin and Noddin 2015)

Insert a citation whenever you need to show the source for something you wrote or quoted. Add page numbers, if appropriate, after a comma.

There are many reasons why students panic when papers are due. For instance, they might not understand the assignment (Noggin and Noddin 2015, 16–17). Or perhaps they missed a lot of classes (Stickler 2013, 112).

The reader can find the complete source citation in your alphabetical reference list by looking under the author’s name and the date.

Reference-list citations

reference list (sometimes titled “Works Cited”) is similar to a bibliography. Normally, every source that you include in your reference list is cited somewhere in your paper: books, journal articles, websites, etc. It’s a good idea to ask what kinds of sources your instructor expects you to include in your reference list.

For the reference list, put your sources in alphabetical order by the author’s last name. The author’s last name comes first to make alphabetizing easier, and the year of the work comes immediately after the author. Use a period after the author, after the date, and after the title.

Noggin, Howard, and Shirley Noddin. 2015. “The Psychology of Paper-Writing Panic.” Brain Fun Newsletter 32 (4): 4–17.
Stickler, Sara. 2013. Habits of Harried Students. New York: Vanity Press.

What about sources without authors?

Plenty of writers are stumped when a source has no author: a phone or text conversation, an episode of a TV show, an unsigned newspaper article, a sign on the side of a bus, and so forth. Instead of trying to make an author-date citation, just describe the source in the text of your paper or put the source in parentheses. There is no need for an entry in the reference list.

This kind of storm was described even in the early 1900s. An article titled “An Ill Wind” in the New York Times on December 8, 1904, says that people saw this kind of wind as “up to no good.”


This kind of storm was described even in the early 1900s. Some people saw this kind of wind as “up to no good” (“An Ill Wind,” New York Times, December 8, 1904).

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Kate Turabian’s A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations is a smaller version of The Chicago Manual of Style written specifically for students.

More advice for students

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