A good paper always starts with a perfectly formatted and structured outline. That is why professors and teachers may ask you to complete an outline as a separate task. As any written assignment, an outline requires the following specific format. In this post, we will talk about how to write a proper Chicago outline format for an essay as a widespread way of structuring an outline.  


How Should I Format an Outline in Chicago Style?

Usually, Chicago style is used for published works; however, it can be more and more often met among students' papers. Unlike the rest of the formatting styles, Chicago presupposes several ways of formatting, including the Author-Date and the Notes-Bibliography Systems. The Author-Date system is similar to the APA style, while the Notes-Bibliography System presupposes providing footnotes with brief information about the source. As a rule, the latter is used when Chicago style is requested; however, it may be a good idea to clarify the system needed before starting working on your essay. 

Proper Chicago Outline Format for an Essay

Here are several rules of Chicago formatting that you should follow while working on your outline. 

  • 1” margins should be set.
  • Times New Roman or Courier fonts with the size of 12 pt. are preferable 
  • Text should be double-spaced
  • Page numbers are written in the header of the text with Arabic numbers

As for the rest of the rules, Chicago style outline is not different from the regular outline. We have already written about how to create an outline here. 

Chicago Style Outline: A Sample

Basically, Chicago outline will have the same format as the regular outline. Your main points will be labeled with Roman letters, followed by capital letters, and ending with Arabic numbers. So, your outline will look like this:

  1. Introduction
  2. Main idea number one
    1. Supporting idea 
    2. Explanation
      1. Example
      2. Example
  3. Main idea number two
    1. Supporting idea
    2. Supporting idea
  4. Main idea number three
    1. Supporting idea
    2. Supporting idea
    3. Concluding statement
  5. Conclusion

Also remember that you can write your outline in two ways: a topic outline or a sentence outline. The first one contains only brief descriptions of the ideas you will develop in your outline. The second one presupposes writing complete sentences, even with the use of sources. In such a case, you should also provide citations where necessary and a list of used sources. In Chicago formatting, you will have Bibliography in the Notes-Bibliography System or References in the Author-Date System.


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