Turabian Writing Styles and Formatting

Kate L. Turabian introduced the Turabian style of writing in her work, “A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations.” The style is quite similar to the Chicago style except that Turabian provides guidelines for the actual writers of student papers, essays, theses and dissertations rather than guidelines for publication.

Writing Style Basics

The Turabian writing style is strictly based on providing information first. It does not allow much room for creativity because this style is chiefly used for reporting research of scientific data or other analytical types of information. Turabian focuses on facts first and does not permit opinion. This style is also used in history and theology, both of which require firm facts backed by heavy research. The Turabian style also calls for footnotes at the bottom of pages to better reference more obscure data mentioned in the page above.


The Turabian writing style requires in-text documentation as well as an end-of-report bibliography. Footnotes in the Turabian style paper should reference items mentioned in the paper as well as items that are cited using in-text citations. The paper works in the “five-paragraph” format in that it has an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The only difference here is that it also has footnotes, perennial in-text citations and a detailed bibliography.


The Turabian style is most frequently used for papers in mathematics, science, history, art history, women’s studies, fine arts and literature. However, this style can be applied to any topic. The Turabian style holds only one major difference from the Chicago style: stand-alone information. The Chicago style paper relies on the bibliography and further reading by the person reviewing your paper to carry its purpose and give it validity; the Turabian style paper is meant to be a stand-alone work that readers can look at once and have all the information on that topic that they need.


The 7th edition of “A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations” by Kate L. Turabian was published in April 2007; however, the original book and style guidelines were published nine years earlier in 1998. Turabian was working as a professor at the University of Chicago to create a supplement to the Chicago style of writing, but her style proved more effective for students, who adopted it as a sole style.