Citation, Documentation of Sources

Q. Are URLs always included in a first footnote citation in Chicago style? (Full disclosure: I hate it! It makes the page footers look like a bunch of gobbledegook.) I know that style is always evolving, but this practice seems like a redundancy when the URLs are in the bibliography. Any insight would be appreciated.

A. According to CMOS 14.29, a source that’s cited in full in the bibliography need not be cited in full in the notes, even the first time it appears. So yes, in a work that features a bibliography, URLs included there may be omitted from the notes—even if a note appears in full rather than shortened form.

Note that this advice applies mainly to works intended for publication, where space is often at a premium and where readability is a primary consideration. If you’re a student, you should clear it with your instructor, who may prefer not to have to shuttle back and forth between notes and bibliography to double-check URLs and track down sources cited in your paper. See also “Taming Messy URLs” at CMOS Shop Talk for some strategies for making URLs more manageable.