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How to Cite a Letter in Turabian Format


Proper citations are important in writing. They can be the difference between a good grade and being accused of plagiarism. Whenever you reference anyone else's work you need to cite it. Finding the proper formatting for personal communications, such as letters, can be difficult. The manner in which you site a letter depends upon whether or not the letter has been published. Proper citation guidelines can be found online for any writing style, including APA, MLA or Chicago/Turabian. Often, Turabian and Chicago formatting are very similar, and they are commonly labeled as the same style.

Use footnotes for your in-text citations. Place the number for the footnote after the period at the end of the sentence that the reference refers to. Place the full references at the bottom of the page. The full reference will vary, depending on if the letter has been published. Only the first line of each footnote is indented. The formatting for citations are the same for footnote citations as they are for bibliographical citations. Here are two examples, one for published letters and one for unpublished letters:

[7] John Smith, Jane Smith, "The Front Lines," Letter from a Soldier to His Wife, 7 May 1943, in Voices of Soldiers: World War II, Adam Stone, ed., 1943 Volume: Year Five (New York, World War Publications, 1963), 234.

[14] John Smith, letter to Jane Smith, May 7, 1943.

Write the bibliographical citation with the following information if the letter has been published: author, addressee, document title, date written, publication title, editor's name, volume, city, publisher, date of publication, and page number. Be sure to use quotations around the document title, italicize the publication title, and put parentheses around the city, publisher, and date). Here is an example:

John Smith, Jane Smith, "The Front Lines," Letter From a Soldier to His Wife, 7 May 1943, in Voices of Soldiers: World War II, Adam Stone, ed., 1943 Volume: Year Five (New York, World War Publications, 1963), 234.

Write the bibliographical citation with the following information if the letter has not been published: author, type of communication, addressee, date. Here is an example:

John Smith, letter to Jane Smith, May 7, 1943.

Tip
  • Aside from reference footnotes, there is one more type of footnotes commonly used in Turabian papers: explanatory. Explanatory footnotes are simply footnotes giving a definition for an uncommon word, or explaining a statement which could be confusing, yet is pertinent to the paper.
Warnings
  • If your citation is more than one line, any line after the first line must be indented.
  • For footnotes, superscript the bracketed number of each footnote, both in-text and at the bottom of the page.
  • The first line of each footnote entry needs to be indented, while any subsequent lines in an entry are not to be indented.
  • The first line of each bibliographical entry is not indented, while any subsequent lines in an entry are to be indented.
About the Author

Jeff McDonald began writing professionally in 2010. His areas of expertise include Apple computer products, popular culture, video games, entertainment and celebrities. McDonald holds a Bachelor of Arts in general studies from Brock University.

Photo Credits
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