Understanding the CMS Paper Format


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Understanding the CMS Paper Format

The CMS format can come across as confusing at times. Not because it is hard to follow, but because almost all theoretical subjects follow a different format. Lengthy courses like psychology, religion, philosophy, and art tend to use the CMS format. CMS format has been around for a long time now, almost over a century!

Chicago Manual of Styles or the CMS helps organize the search paper. Due to the consistency, it brings in the paper, professors love the CMS. To be an expert at formatting the Chicago manual of style, you need practice more than education. More than that, you need to understand the general instructions and components of the format.

We Introduce You to the CMS Paper

We are here to help you understand the format from scratch. The first thing that you need to understand is that other format styles like APA and MLA are used in academic writing for education. The CMS style is mostly used when writers plan on publishing their piece. They don't use APA or MLA as they don't want the paper to be restricted as an academic paper. Published articles are for people to access globally.

CMS and APA format have similar components like a title page, font, and references, but that's about it. They aren't twins in terms of writing. The text might be the same, but the format will show you how text can be organized differently. Let's see where we can apply the CMS format.

Places Where We Can Use the CMS Format

The CMS format applies to academic writing as well as general publications related to the fields of education. As we said, professors have preferences. They might ask you to replace the MLA format with the CMS format. Some instructors enjoy the trouble of introducing new formats, but it does come in handy. For someone using the MLA or APA format, it becomes difficult to cater to the general publications' needs. It can only be done by using the CMS. So in a way, your professors are blessing you with a guide for the future.

The CMS is preferable for general publications due to the text's consistency and links, followed by the structure it follows. The format is flexible in terms of bibliography. Writers can use footnotes for it or even the author-year system, similar to the APA format. Another reason that makes CMS unique is the way it acknowledges the author's writing. It provides cited sources that give credit to the research and enhances the credibility of the writing. The reader can notice clearly that the author has put in much effort. The work is authentic, and the readers can rely on the information presented.

Guidelines for the General Format

A format without guidelines is like bread without butter. It is incomplete and useless. Imagine the number of mistakes we would make if we don't have a proper format to follow. The general format for CMS can be confusing at first sight in terms of writing, but you'll understand it in no time. Know that you need to write the text in a consistent tone. Keep it firm and formal. Do not pay around with words and phrases. It is an article, not a text message to your best friend!

Consistency Is Key

The consistent text also means the same font size and style, preferably times new roman. Everyone likes a nice double spaced text. It has to look clear, right? It shouldn't be difficult to read. However, this guideline does not apply to writing captions, references, and footnotes.

Inserting headers can be annoying at the beginning for writers. But we can't ignore them. So know that page numbers have to be in the header in Arabic numbers. It has to start from the first page of your document. Keep the numbers continuous.

Keep It Organized

Do not ram everything in the same heading. If the text under one heading is too long, it becomes monotonous and boring. Use subheadings to keep it interesting. The Chicago manual follows a formal tone already, we can’t make the text appear dull. Our readers will run away!

Block quotations are new for you, we are sure. So they shouldn't be longer than four to five lines. Keep them below the word count of a hundred words. Do not start block quotations in the middle of the paragraph. Remember clarity? Yes, start it from a new line.

As far as your paper structure is concerned, it isn't that complicated. Simply set margins at 1 inch or more. Don't go below 1 inch. Use a clear font. A preferable option is Times new roman at 12 points. Follow this, and writing becomes easier.

CMS Style Paper Key Sections

The Chicago Manual of style isn't a random format. It follows a proper structure. Every structure has some key points which have to be right. If any of these critical points go wrong, the whole paper seems out of structure and unorganized.

Chicago style had the following components:

  • Title page, also called a cover page
  • Main body paragraphs
  • References or bibliography
  • Proper headings
  • Tables with captions
  • Footnotes
  • Figures with captions

The order of these parts is essential. You must follow the proper order to place them rightly in the paper while writing. If you don't, you might lose marks. Professors can be very stingy with marks when it comes to the Chicago style format. To avoid it, follow the order we have mentioned.

  • Cover page
  • Body paragraphs
  • Footnotes and endnotes
  • References with sources.

These are essential for the formatting of the Chicago style. We have prepared a detailed guide on these key parts of theCMS research paper format. It will make your research paper more comfortable to write and follow!

Get Started With the Title Page

The title page is the very first part of your CMS format. Don't ruin it. Make sure to have the text aligned in a central position. It should be in the middle of the title page. You have to provide some vital information like your first and last name. Include your subject and course number in the next line, followed by the date of submission. Make sure you do not exceed these four to five liners. Be precise! Use double spacing when you mention the information. It is best if you adjust the margins to 1 inch.

Don't worry too much; the title page is the easier part of your CMS format. The formatting is easy to follow and takes it hardly five minutes to adjust everything. Deep breaths!

Let's Move to the Body Paragraphs

These paragraphs contain the crux of your writing. All the details, figures, and tables are included in the body. It gives life to your writing! The first thing you should do is that all-important words in the headings should be capital; this is known as heading style in the CMS. It tells your reader what's coming next in the paragraph. If you write any other titles in the middle of the sections, you have to use italic format and quotation marks. For example, books, journal articles, poems, and plays.

Blocked quotes in the middle of the text should always start from new lines and should be italicized. When mentioning names, try to use full names. After the first time, you can use their last names only. If you have to add a list of numbers, then type the words don't use numerical values until it's more than a hundred.

References Are Important

The CMS formatting uses a complicated style of bibliography. It allows you to cite blocked references, and then at the end of the paper, you have to insert a bibliography with the name of the sources. It is similar to the ASA citation format. Mention references on the very last page of your CMS research paper.

As for the format, the heading should be middle aligned with a space of about two lines before your text begins. Add single spaces after an entry for the next. Try to enter the references in alphabetical order. An important thing to note is that when you can't find the author's names for a particular source, you should mention the complete title of the book or journal article. Avoid the use of access dates if publishing dates are available.

Footnotes Are Unique to the Chicago Style

The format for footnotes and endnotes is the same. They both are at the end of the page. Footnotes begin from number 1. Do not reuse the numbers; each number is unique to each footnote. Otherwise, it becomes confusing to keep track. These footnotes are added at the end of sentences in the body paragraph. Use Times new roman as the font at 10 points and be careful about punctuation. You can separate two points with a semicolon if you are mentioning them in the same footnote. Try using Arabic numbers as they are widely used and read by people around the world.

Some Briefing About Headings

The headings of the Chicago manual of style should be informative. They should provide an insight into where the coming paragraph is leading. The CMS doesn't have proper formatting for headings, but you can follow a few steps to guide you along the way. You can write headings in the headline style to make sure vital words are capitalized. Keep the headings and subheadings in the same alignment. Use a different font size for subheadings and try to begin all headings from a new line. You can view a sample CMS paper with footnotes online to get a better idea.

Formatting Rules Are Vital

All the common formatting rules have been mentioned earlier, like the key elements. All the detailed instructions are also with them. Make sure you follow all the formatting rules, such as font, margins, and text size. Carefully use proper punctuation. Be mindful of the order of the critical elements and the tone of the CMS paper. Use the bibliography at the bottom of the page in the required order.

Some Bibliography Formatting Examples

We understand it can be difficult for a new writer to know how to write the Chicago style's bibliography. Written instructions can’t always provide you with enough information. For this reason, we have provided a few examples of CMS style citations.

  • Harvey, David. "Modern and Modernism." In The Condition of Postmodernity: An Enquiry into the Origins of Cultural Change, 10-38. Malden, MA: Blackwell, 1990.
  • Foucault, Michel. "What is an Author?" In The Foucault Reader. 32-50. Edited by Paul Robinow. New York: Pantheon. 1984.

A Checklist to Avoid Common Formatting Errors

The rules for a CMS research paper are not entirely different from its formatting guidelines given earlier. However, there are minor details that you can keep in mind before you go on with the paper.

  • Avoid writing the cited work sources on top, similar to MLA style, and can confuse the two formatting styles.
  • Be mindful of beginning each heading with a new line.
  • Keep the following of an alphabetical order going in references. Do not randomly include citations.
  • Each note must have a unique number. Don't reuse numbers for citations.
  • References use the author's last name, followed by their first name.

We hope these guidelines help you understand the rules and ways to write a CMS paper!

Originally published Feb 09, 2021, updated Feb 17, 2021

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