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What Is a Writing Style Guide, and Which One Should You Use?
by Dana Sitar | May 8, 2020
Early in my writing career, I discovered a troubling truth about those arguments I’d had in my (very, very cool) adolescence about spelling, commas, pronouns and other conundrums of the English language.
No right answers exist.
No definitive tome rules over all of English to set the record straight — in part because the contradicting rules each have merit in some situations.
Instead of a single set of writing laws, we have style guides. These magnificent manuals tame the whims of writers and place boundaries on the problematic potential of our language. And, yes, tell us whether or not to use an Oxford comma .
Professional writers should know how to pick a style guide, which guide is standard for which types of writing and how to use a style guide to polish your writing (and impress your editors).
What is a writing style guide?
A style guide is a collection of conventions for writing for an industry, brand or project.
Historically published as books and now also as online databases, they guide writers and editors in grammar, spelling, punctuation, word usage, formatting and other questions that come up while you write because of the variance and fluidity of the English language.
Most industry style guides are descriptive, so they make recommendations based on how people use language commonly, rather than dictate rules for how we should use it.
Style guides for brands or projects are more often prescriptive, setting guidelines for how an individual or company should use language in written materials.
Some companies use “style guide” to mean a set of standards for tone, voice, visuals and programming to guide their marketing and design efforts. I generally call that a “brand style guide” or “visual style guide” to distinguish from the writing or editorial style guide.
Why do you need a style guide?
A style guide ensures consistency and clarity in writing across an industry, company or project.
English offers a ton of ways to write almost anything, even within one continent. Sometimes deciding which way to go is a matter of expression — like whether to say “traffic light” or “stop-and-go light.” Sometimes the answer is written into common grammar rules, like using “me” as an object and “I” as a subject.
But a lot of times, a correct answer doesn’t exist — like whether you can start a sentence with “because.” Style guides step in to determine a standard in those cases to keep your book, publication or marketing materials from being a mess of inconsistencies driven by personal preferences.
How many writing style guides are there?
Tons of style guides exist across industries and genres, and new ones pop up frequently. Most writers will encounter four commonly used guides: AP style for journalism, Chicago style for publishing, APA style for scholarly writing and MLA style for scholarly citation (more on each of these below).
Style guides tend to emerge to define standards for distinct styles of writing — technical, academic, journalistic, fiction or blogging, for example. They often start as guides for one organization and become industry standard.
What is the best writing style guide?
No style guide is more accurate or correct than another. The best one for your writing depends on what you’re writing and where it’ll be published.
How to pick a style guide for your writing project
To find the best style guide for the kind of writing you do, consider:
- House or corporate style: If you’re working with a publication, publishing house or company, first ask your editor or manager whether it uses a house style guide. They’ll point you to internal documentation or let you know which industry guide they prefer.
- Genre and medium: Learn which style guide is standard for the type of writing you do. This will help you prepare manuscripts before you have a publication on board, and it’ll give you a place to turn if you work for a company that doesn’t document editorial standards.
- Niche or field: Lots of niche style guides exist for industries or academic fields, like chemistry or sociology, to address unique issues.
Writing style guides every writer should know
These are the four main style guides you’ll encounter as a professional writer, plus some alternatives to be aware of.
Associated Press Stylebook
The AP style guide is officially called “The Associated Press Stylebook.” It publishes a biennial spiral-bound print book and the AP Stylebook Online .
What is AP style?
AP style is a set of standards for writing in news media and one of the most comprehensive style guides. It includes recommendations for grammar, spelling, punctuation and usage; plus topical guides to define standards for news topics ( like COVID-19 ) and cultural trends (like gender-neutral terms).
Who uses AP style?
AP style is the industry standard for journalism, and most blogs and content marketing. It’s technically the house style for the Associated Press, and most newspapers adopted the standards because many publish AP stories alongside their own.
How often is AP style updated?
Editors update AP Stylebook Online throughout the year to address questions and major news events. Through 2020, a new print edition was published annually, but is now updated and published every other year. AP editors debut changes each spring at the ACES conference for editors.
Chicago Manual of Style
Colloquially called the Chicago style guide or CMOS, the Chicago Manual of Style has been published by the University of Chicago Press since 1906, including the Chicago Manual of Style Online since 2006.
What is Chicago Manual of Style?
CMOS is a set of standards for writing in commercial and academic publishing and one of the most widely used style guides. It includes recommendations for grammar, spelling, punctuation and usage; plus manuscript formatting and two variations of source citation.
Who uses Chicago Manual of Style?
Chicago is the preferred style of print publishers in both fiction and nonfiction, and many academic journals in the humanities. Instructors in college or high school courses might teach Chicago-style citation but don’t usually enforce other preferences of the manual unless you’re writing for publication, like in grad school.
How often is Chicago style updated?
The press has published 17 editions of CMOS since 1906, most recently in 2017. In recent history, an updated print edition has been published about every seven years. CMOS Online is updated throughout the year, and editors address timely topics and questions online through the Chicago Style Q&A .
Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association
The APA style guide, officially the “Publication Manual,” started in 1929 as a lengthy article from a group of psychologists, anthropologists and business managers. APA has published seven editions of the “Publication Manual” since the first in 1952, and the APA Style Blog since 2009.
What is APA style?
APA style is a set of standards to make scientific writing easier to comprehend. It includes recommendations for grammar, spelling, punctuation and usage; plus its signature in-text citation style, ethical standards for publishing research and how to format an academic paper.
Who uses APA style?
Scholarly writers and journals in many social sciences, humanities, health care and some natural sciences follow APA style. College-level instructors might prefer APA-style citation, and most high school and college instructors prefer APA-style paper formatting, but neither tend to enforce other APA recommendations.
How often is APA style updated?
APA has published seven editions of the “Publication Manual,” most recently in 2019. Since 1974, a new edition has come out about every 10 years. The APA Style website is updated with each new edition, and editors update the blog occasionally with timely topics and news.
MLA style began in 1951 when the Modern Language Association of America published the “MLA Style Sheet.” It’s been publishing the updated “MLA Handbook” for students since 1977 and the bulk of its contents online through the MLA Style Center since 2009.
MLA used to publish a separate “MLA Style Manual” for grad students and professional scholars, but that went out of print in 2016. Now “MLA Handbook” is meant for writers at all levels.
What is MLA style?
MLA style is primarily a set of guidelines for citation and formatting in academic papers. It’s best known for its source citation template. It includes limited guidance on writing mechanics and no recommendations for usage.
Who uses MLA style?
Scholarly writers and journals in segments of the humanities focused on language and writing, like language studies and literary criticism, follow MLA style. English students in college and high school might use MLA style for citation and paper formatting instead of APA style.
How often is MLA style updated?
MLA has published eight editions of the “Handbook” since 1977, most recently in 2016. It updates and publishes a new print edition about every three to five years, and answers ongoing writer questions online through Ask the MLA .
Alternative style guides
The field or niche you work in might need to address unique publishing quirks the heavy-hitting style guides don’t cover.
Organizations have responded to that need over the years by developing their own style guides. These might be alternatives or complementary to the dominant style guide in a genre.
Popular guides journalists use to complement or supplement AP style include:
- The New York Times Manual of Style and Usage provides additional and alternative guidance to the AP Stylebook, like recommending the use of courtesy titles instead of referring to a subject just by their last name (e.g. Mr. Trump).
- BuzzFeed Style Guide defines standards for writing online and on social media, codifying such conventions as how to spell “I’mma” (as in “I’mma let you finish…”) and leading the way in guidance for inclusive language.
- Diversity Style Guide is a project of the Center for Integration and Improvement of Journalism at San Francisco State University that gathers guidance from several organizations to help media cover people of diverse races, ethnicities, genders, abilities and more.
- Conscious Style Guide includes guidance on usage, framing and representation to be inclusive and respectful of any audience.
- GLAAD Media Reference provides guidance on covering LGBTQ stories and issues.
Some complements and alternatives to APA style for academic writing include:
- AMA Manual of Style from the American Medical Association for writing about health and medicine.
- NLM Style Guide from the National Library of Medicine, published online-only by the National Institute for Health for writing about health and medicine.
- Scientific Style and Format by the Council of Science Editors.
- ACS Style Guide from the American Chemical Society for chemistry professionals.
- The Bluebook citation guide for legal professionals and scholars.
Popular guides for technical writing for formal reports and user manuals include:
- Microsoft Manual of Style
- IBM DeveloperWorks Editorial Style Guide
- Handbook of Technical Writing
Other books about writing
Some commercial books about writing are not authoritative in any industry, but writers and editors keep them on hand for style and usage recommendations. Some popular books:
- “ The Elements of Style ” by William Strunk, Jr. and E.B. White, a well-known guide detailing just a few rules of grammar and punctuation, composition and formatting, and a list of commonly misused words and phrases.
- “A Dictionary of Modern English Usage” by H.W. Fowler (also known as “Fowler’s Modern English Usage”), a guide to word choice, grammar and style peppered with Fowler’s humor and unshakable opinions.
- “ Garner’s Modern English Usage ” by Bryan A. Garner, a witty reference book on grammar and vocabulary.
House style guides and book style sheets
Any publication or company you write for likely has a house or corporate style guide. In most cases, they follow an industry guide — like AP style — as a base. The house style guide documents anywhere it makes sense to deviate and addresses questions the industry guide doesn’t answer.
If you write a book, your editor creates a style sheet for the manuscript. It includes style rules, plus a list of names of places and people in the book to ensure consistent spelling throughout.
Getting the most out of a style guide
Once you know which style to follow and set up your online subscription or stack your desk with reference books, here’s how to put those magnificent guides to use.
Know when to consult it
No one expects a writer or editor to know all the rules of any style guide, no matter how much you’ve used it in your career. The trick to using a style guide is knowing when to consult it.
Become familiar with the biggest differences among styles, and train yourself to check the guide when you encounter them. Some major triggers:
- Headline capitalization: AP style uses sentence case, while Chicago uses title case, and APA uses each in different situations. House style is often different from any of these.
- Citation: MLA, APA and Chicago each offer templates for citing sources within a paper or a reference list.
- Punctuation: Notably, guides differ in their recommendations for the Oxford comma, the percent symbol, hyphens and dashes.
- Numbers: Whether to spell a number or use a figure varies among style guides and even within each, depending on how you use the number. Also look up how to handle dates, ages and time.
- Compound words: Recommendations for compounds change quickly, especially as words become common. Check a current guide for whether to write health care, healthcare, or health-care , for example.
- Abbreviations and acronyms: Should you use a state abbreviation (like Fla.) or a postal code (like FL)… or always spell it out? In acronyms like U.S., do you need the periods? AP says yes, Chicago says you can go either way.
- Formatting: Chicago and APA italicize book titles, while AP uses quotation marks around them. Guides also include preferences for formatting bulleted lists, block quotes, sentence spacing and more.
- Words about technology: Common usage changes quickly, and your content can look outdated if it doesn’t keep up — for example, a hyphen in “e-mail” or capitalizing “Internet.” Check your current style guide for recommendations, but also address these in house style if conventional guidance doesn’t make sense for your audience .
- Brand names: Will you use camel case for eBay and iPhone? All-caps for IKEA? A hyphen in Wal-Mart or Walmart? Style guides make recommendations, but this is another area house style should address more thoroughly for your audience.
- Identifying groups of people: The boundaries for respectful and inclusive language are ever-shifting, so terms you’re accustomed to could be outdated. AP style, complementary media guides and APA style include up-to-date guidance based on common usage and recommendations from advocacy groups. Refer to those if your industry guide doesn’t include preferences.
A good rule of thumb: Consult your style guide, even when you think you know the answer! You might misremember, conflate styles or miss a vital update.
Don’t deviate if you don’t have to
If you have the privilege of contributing to a company’s or publication’s style guide, start with an industry-standard guide (AP, Chicago or APA) as a base, and stick to it unless you have a compelling reason not to.
Writers and editors in your industry are likely familiar with the basics of the common style guide, but every in-house idiosyncrasy is a detail you have to teach each freelancer and new hire you work with. It’s also an opportunity to appear incorrect to readers and peers.
Don’t sweat the small stuff
I say this as both an editor and a writer!
Writers, familiarize yourself with big style differences and important in-house preferences, but don’t get preoccupied with minute details. Editors are there to correct those; it’s not worth your time to spend all day perusing a style guide for answers.
Kick your writing style up a notch
Knowing how to use a style guide boosts your value as a writer . It means you’ll turn in cleaner copy and require less work from editors.
On a fun note, it also helps you understand your work better! Learning the linguistic conventions in your industry and niche and reading the explanations for them can help you define the audience you write for, how they think and what they know.
Plus, as someone who works with words, knowing how style guides work deepens your relationship with the work you create. Writing a sentence becomes exhilarating when you comprehend the simultaneous fluidity and brute force of the language you’re using.
Right? Just me?
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Citation styles: apa, mla, chicago, turabian, ieee.
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Listed below are a few quick links to resources that will aid you in citing sources.
- Sign up for a Mendeley, EndNote, or Zotero training class.
- APA 7th Edition Published in October 2019. Visit this page for links to resources and examples.
- MLA Need help with citing MLA style? Find information here along with links to books in PittCat and free online resources.
- Chicago/Turabian Need help with citing Chicago/Turabian style? Find examples here along with links to the online style manual and free online resources.
Getting Started: How to use this guide
This LibGuide was designed to provide you with assistance in citing your sources when writing an academic paper.
There are different styles which format the information differently. In each tab, you will find descriptions of each citation style featured in this guide along with links to online resources for citing and a few examples.
What is a citation and citation style?
A citation is a way of giving credit to individuals for their creative and intellectual works that you utilized to support your research. It can also be used to locate particular sources and combat plagiarism. Typically, a citation can include the author's name, date, location of the publishing company, journal title, or DOI (Digital Object Identifier).
A citation style dictates the information necessary for a citation and how the information is ordered, as well as punctuation and other formatting.
How to do I choose a citation style?
There are many different ways of citing resources from your research. The citation style sometimes depends on the academic discipline involved. For example:
- APA (American Psychological Association) is used by Education, Psychology, and Sciences
- MLA (Modern Language Association) style is used by the Humanities
- Chicago/Turabian style is generally used by Business, History, and the Fine Arts
*You will need to consult with your professor to determine what is required in your specific course.
Click the links below to find descriptions of each style along with a sample of major in-text and bibliographic citations, links to books in PittCat, online citation manuals, and other free online resources.
- APA Citation Style
- MLA Citation Style
- Chicago/Turabian Citation Style
- Tools for creating bibliographies (CItation Managers)
Need someone to review your paper? Visit the Writing Center or Academic Success Center on your campus.
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MLA, APA, & CMS: How to Properly Format Your Papers
Knowing the styles and when to use them.
In academic writing, how you present your information (technically) is often seen as important as the ideas you are putting forth. Proper citing, quoting and referencing of source material allows you to convey your breadth of research in a language commonly shared by others in your discipline. Giving others a chance to review and compare your work under these established guidelines enables your instructors to better see the work on its own merits, opposed to getting sidetracked by technical inefficiencies.
You MUST follow the rules like every other student: this is not an area where you want to stand out for doing things your own way. Writing for any academic purpose carries with it certain expectations and formatting consistencies, and a failure to properly understand how or why you cite your sources in a specific way can have negative effects on your written projects and communications.
The Big Three: APA, MLA, and CMS
There are three main "Schools of Style" used to properly format an academic paper, referred to as APA, MLA, or CMS.
- APA style : These are the official guidelines put forth by the American Psychological Association, now in its sixth edition. This is the preference of the social sciences, so if you are studying sociology, psychology, medicine, or social work you are going to know APA style.
- MLA style : The Modern Language Association provides guidelines you will be familiar with if you are focused on the Humanities: so artists, English majors, and theatre students will know MLA as they have used this style now for more than half a century.
- CMS style : These are the style guidelines put forth in the Chicago Manual of Style , now in its 16th edition. CMS style is predominantly seen in the humanities, particularly with literature students and those who study advanced segments of history and/or the arts.
While these formatting methods will share many characteristics such as margins and spacing, how they attribute references to source materials is the main differentiator. For example, APA lists "references" while MLA calls the same thing "works cited" - a small but important distinction that might actually affect your grade.
Typically, you are going to use one style for most of your classes and communications, but there is certainly the possibility that you'll need to know how to use any one of these three common styles. The good news is it is not hard to get up-to-speed on any one of them and use them properly.
Get the Latest Updates Regardless of which style you are using, it is imperative to get the most recent version of the guidelines to ensure your paper is as accurate as it can be. Each of the sources have updated their guidelines multiple times over the years, so working with the current standards is goal one.
- APA style guidelines: http://www.apastyle.org
- MLA style guidelines: http://www.mla.org/style
- CMS style guidelines: http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/
APA and MLA are the most common styles to use, but CMS is not unheard of - just not as common for undergrads. CMS is commonly used in traditional book publishing and academic publishing situations, so if you are doing post-graduate writing, it is good to know.
The main thing that seems to be changing in the rules for all of them is about the proper attribution of web-related sources, so you are going to want to re-check that you are working from the most recent versions of whichever style guide you need.
Beware the Pitfalls
The common mistakes being made in properly styling citations and references might be as simple as not downloading the most recent updates; however, it may also be a case where students are simply not understanding how to infuse referencing properly.
He continues: "While some common APA formatting errors may be issues due to changes in updated guidelines (APA 5 vs. APA 6), there are other, perhaps more common instances where a student fails to properly reference the source materials within writing assignments. This is particularly true when citing content from the Internet. Understanding how to properly reference and cite source materials adds power to any student paper, because the papers can be used to show a proper understanding and blending of source ideas - a critical concept in higher learning."
"Some of the changes to the guidelines seem very dubious and meticulous," he continues, "but standards are there so an evaluator can assess the weight of the material without bias. Many of my students might complain about it, but the ones that succeed are the ones who are actively trying to use citing resources to their own argument's advantage."
Common MLA Mistakes APA students are not the only ones who have common mistakes in formatting - as evidenced by the following insight offered from Dr. Margaret Walters of Kennesaw State University , where she and her students have used primarily MLA guidelines in their writing, editing and literature classes. Dr. Walters has taught a variety of undergraduate and graduate level writing courses at Kennesaw State University for over 15 years.
Dr. Walters said, "The most common problems I see with MLA style occur in the writing, meaning the text itself, not the bibliography or Works Cited...though there are often some problems to address there, too. In the text, the most common problems are:
- putting a period before and sometimes after the parenthetical citation, as in: ".... and this point is made early on." (Smith 127).
- placing the closing quotation mark after the citation in parenthesis instead of after the quote: " .... and this point is made early on (Smith 127)".
- placing quotation marks inside commas and periods instead of after them: Smith tells us that among the most important rules are the ones regarding use of commas", yet he does not explain how this happens". (127) [those writing British English use the opposite rule--quotation marks inside end punctuation]."
Dr. Walters continued: "In the Works Cited, the most common MLA-related problems are:
- not alphabetizing (even though this is the easiest rule to follow)
- mixing up MLA and APA style; e.g. using initials for first names when MLA says use full first names and middle initials
- leaving off the place of publication - it should be New York: Penguin, 2009 but will instead say Penguin, 2009
- not knowing rules for using quotations marks or when to underline / italicize
"Students get it right most of the time," Dr. Walters states. "I think the underlying problem is an unwillingness to use the style sheets, handouts, or even the MLA handbook. If they use the resources offered, most students are not going to struggle to meet the guidelines."
Get More Help
Both Dr. Walters and Professor Long advise students to use strong and verifiable resources to make your formatting job easier. Both instructors advise checking out the OWL (Online Writing Lab) Resources offered by Purdue in addition to the links to the sites listed above.
The writing center at your own university may hold lots of great information and people to help you understand what to do in each situation you face. Not every situation calls for the same style guide, so checking with the experts on your campus is always a smart idea.
For a quick reference, you can also use the handy visual aids created by Capital Community College on MLA and APA styled papers: ( http://www.ccc.commnet.edu/library/citing.htm ) or look at the MLA vs. APA comparison chart created by the University Writing Center at Appalachian State University .
The Bottom Line
The reality is, depending on your discipline, there may be only one type of style that you need to use, ever. However, this is not saying the rules for how to properly cite resources and references is not going to continue to change and evolve over time. You will be held responsible for being current.
As a student or in post-college academic writing, you want your work to shine and to always show your best efforts. This means checking on the rules to properly style and format your papers. Use the links and information above to help ensure you are forever properly dotting your I's and crossing your T's according to the latest and greatest rules.
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APA vs MLA — What Does Your College Prefer?
When it comes to doing essays, presentations, and other assignments, your college will require you to reference your work — this means giving credit to the sources from which you took the information. It is important, however, that you use the referencing style required by your college, as there are many different referencing styles out there. Let’s do a comparison of APA vs MLA, two of the more commonly used styles, and understand which one you should be using in your classes.
Citation Format Confusion
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Both the APA and MLA referencing formats are well known and widely popular. Because of this, you may be asking yourself, do colleges use MLA or APA? The short answer is that they use both. The format that you are required to use is determined by the college you go to as well as the courses you take.
While these formats do have differences that set them apart, there are many similarities that they share that can lead to confusion between the two. In the following sections, we will take a look at some of the similarities and differences between MLA vs APA so that you can identify each one.
How are MLA and APA Similar?
The most basic way in which both styles are similar is that they both require all information to be referenced in the reference list at the end of the paper. Each reference is also listed alphabetically.
Secondly, all work that is not your own original work needs to be referenced. This is because by not doing so, you would be guilty of plagiarism. In case you are unsure, plagiarism is the use of someone else’s work without giving them credit where it is due.
In both the APA and MLA styles, parentheses are used for referencing within the body of the paper.
Finally, when using both styles, your paper needs to be double spaced. This includes the reference page. All margins should be 1 inch.
What Does MLA Include?
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The MLA style was created by the Modern Language Association for referencing sources in academic writing. It has since been used in classrooms as well as by scholars, journal publishers, and academics at large.
When referencing with the MLA style , the following details are listed in order:
- Title of source.
- Title of container
- Other contributors
- Publication date,
When doing in-text referencing, you should always include the author’s name and the page number. The page number always needs to appear in parenthesis. You have a choice to either include the author’s name in the same parenthesis or to include the author’s name in the sentence being referenced.
What Does APA Include?
The APA style was developed by the American Psychological Association. This happened in 1929, when a group of psychologists, anthropologists, and business-people came together to decide on a style that should be used for scientific writing so that it can be easily read by other people.
The APA referencing method differs depending on the type of source that you are referencing.
When referencing books with the APA style , the following details are listed in order:
- Title of source
Keep in mind that the referencing differs for other sources such as websites and academic journals.
Top Differences Between MLA and APA
While the major differences between the two styles are listed above, there are several other differences that also set them apart.
When to use each format.
The MLA format, having been developed by the Modern Language Association, is typically used in humanities and liberal arts programs. Examples of majors where the MLA format is widely used are literature, visual arts, and theatre.
The APA format, developed by the American Psychological Association, was created specifically for use in behavioral and social sciences. Majors where the APA format is preferred include psychology, sociology, and history. There are other fields where the APA style is also sometimes applied, such as in the field of communications.
1. If You’re A Student
You may be required to learn both referencing styles while you are in school. Do not worry about using the wrong one in assignments, however, as your teacher should tell you which one to use. If they do not, be sure to ask so that you don’t make a mistake.
2. If You’re A Teacher
Students in humanities normally follow the MLA format, while those in science and research field usually follow the APA format.
Often, the MLA format is focused on in schools.
It is important that students are required to use one standardized referencing format throughout a course. This is so that it becomes easy to find the writer’s sources and ensure that referencing is done thoroughly.
It is recommended that students are taught a referencing style in high school so that they are prepared for referencing in college.
Does the Subject of the Paper Matter?
First of all, many online universities such as University of the People require the use of APA referencing.
If you are someone who attends an online university with diverse program options such as University of the People (which has programs in education, business administration, computer science, and health science), check your course materials or ask your lecturer what they require you to use.
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APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.) | Generator, Template, Examples
Published on November 6, 2020 by Raimo Streefkerk . Revised on August 23, 2022.
The 7th edition of the APA Publication Manual provides guidelines for clear communication , citing sources , and formatting documents. This article focuses on paper formatting.
Generate accurate APA citations with Scribbr
Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines:
- Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides.
- Double-space all text, including headings.
- Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches.
- Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.).
- Include a page number on every page.
Let an expert format your paper
Our APA formatting experts can help you to format your paper according to APA guidelines. They can help you with:
- Margins, line spacing, and indentation
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- Running head and page numbering
Table of contents
How to set up apa format (with template), apa alphabetization guidelines, apa format template [free download], page header, headings and subheadings, reference page, tables and figures, frequently asked questions about apa format.
References are ordered alphabetically by the first author’s last name. If the author is unknown, order the reference entry by the first meaningful word of the title (ignoring articles: “the”, “a”, or “an”).
Why set up APA format from scratch if you can download Scribbr’s template for free?
Student papers and professional papers have slightly different guidelines regarding the title page, abstract, and running head. Our template is available in Word and Google Docs format for both versions.
- Student paper: Word | Google Docs
- Professional paper: Word | Google Docs
In an APA Style paper, every page has a page header. For student papers, the page header usually consists of just a page number in the page’s top-right corner. For professional papers intended for publication, it also includes a running head .
A running head is simply the paper’s title in all capital letters. It is left-aligned and can be up to 50 characters in length. Longer titles are abbreviated .
APA headings have five possible levels. Heading level 1 is used for main sections such as “ Methods ” or “ Results ”. Heading levels 2 to 5 are used for subheadings. Each heading level is formatted differently.
Want to know how many heading levels you should use, when to use which heading level, and how to set up heading styles in Word or Google Docs? Then check out our in-depth article on APA headings .
The title page is the first page of an APA Style paper. There are different guidelines for student and professional papers.
Both versions include the paper title and author’s name and affiliation. The student version includes the course number and name, instructor name, and due date of the assignment. The professional version includes an author note and running head .
For more information on writing a striking title, crediting multiple authors (with different affiliations), and writing the author note, check out our in-depth article on the APA title page .
The abstract is a 150–250 word summary of your paper. An abstract is usually required in professional papers, but it’s rare to include one in student papers (except for longer texts like theses and dissertations).
The abstract is placed on a separate page after the title page . At the top of the page, write the section label “Abstract” (bold and centered). The contents of the abstract appear directly under the label. Unlike regular paragraphs, the first line is not indented. Abstracts are usually written as a single paragraph without headings or blank lines.
Directly below the abstract, you may list three to five relevant keywords . On a new line, write the label “Keywords:” (italicized and indented), followed by the keywords in lowercase letters, separated by commas.
APA Style does not provide guidelines for formatting the table of contents . It’s also not a required paper element in either professional or student papers. If your instructor wants you to include a table of contents, it’s best to follow the general guidelines.
Place the table of contents on a separate page between the abstract and introduction. Write the section label “Contents” at the top (bold and centered), press “Enter” once, and list the important headings with corresponding page numbers.
The APA reference page is placed after the main body of your paper but before any appendices . Here you list all sources that you’ve cited in your paper (through APA in-text citations ). APA provides guidelines for formatting the references as well as the page itself.
Creating APA Style references
Play around with the Scribbr Citation Example Generator below to learn about the APA reference format of the most common source types or generate APA citations for free with Scribbr’s APA Citation Generator .
Formatting the reference page
Write the section label “References” at the top of a new page (bold and centered). Place the reference entries directly under the label in alphabetical order.
Finally, apply a hanging indent , meaning the first line of each reference is left-aligned, and all subsequent lines are indented 0.5 inches.
Tables and figures are presented in a similar format. They’re preceded by a number and title and followed by explanatory notes (if necessary).
Use bold styling for the word “Table” or “Figure” and the number, and place the title on a separate line directly below it (in italics and title case). Try to keep tables clean; don’t use any vertical lines, use as few horizontal lines as possible, and keep row and column labels concise.
Keep the design of figures as simple as possible. Include labels and a legend if needed, and only use color when necessary (not to make it look more appealing).
Check out our in-depth article about table and figure notes to learn when to use notes and how to format them.
The easiest way to set up APA format in Word is to download Scribbr’s free APA format template for student papers or professional papers.
Alternatively, you can watch Scribbr’s 5-minute step-by-step tutorial or check out our APA format guide with examples.
APA Style papers should be written in a font that is legible and widely accessible. For example:
- Times New Roman (12pt.)
- Arial (11pt.)
- Calibri (11pt.)
- Georgia (11pt.)
The same font and font size is used throughout the document, including the running head , page numbers, headings , and the reference page . Text in footnotes and figure images may be smaller and use single line spacing.
You need an APA in-text citation and reference entry . Each source type has its own format; for example, a webpage citation is different from a book citation .
Use Scribbr’s free APA Citation Generator to generate flawless citations in seconds or take a look at our APA citation examples .
Yes, page numbers are included on all pages, including the title page , table of contents , and reference page . Page numbers should be right-aligned in the page header.
To insert page numbers in Microsoft Word or Google Docs, click ‘Insert’ and then ‘Page number’.
APA format is widely used by professionals, researchers, and students in the social and behavioral sciences, including fields like education, psychology, and business.
Be sure to check the guidelines of your university or the journal you want to be published in to double-check which style you should be using.
Cite this Scribbr article
If you want to cite this source, you can copy and paste the citation or click the “Cite this Scribbr article” button to automatically add the citation to our free Citation Generator.
Streefkerk, R. (2022, August 23). APA Formatting and Citation (7th Ed.) | Generator, Template, Examples. Scribbr. Retrieved March 5, 2023, from https://www.scribbr.com/apa-style/format/
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MLA Formatting and Style Guide
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APA, MLA, Chicago – automatically format bibliographies
Word automatically generates a bibliography from the sources you used to write your paper. Each time you add a new citation to your document, Word adds that source so that it appears in the bibliography in the proper format, such as MLA , APA , and Chicago-style .
Add a citation after a quote
On the References tab , in the Citations & Bibliography group, click the arrow next to Style .
Click the style that you want to use for the citation and source.
Click at the end of the sentence or phrase that you want to cite.
Click Insert Citation and then select Add New Source .
In the Create Source box, type in the citation details, and then click OK .
When you've completed these steps, the citation is added to the list of available citations. The next time you quote this reference, you don't have to type it all out again, just click Insert Citation and select the citation you want to use.
Important: APA and MLA can change their formats, so you’ll want to ensure that these format versions meet your requirements. You can create your own updated version of a style or build custom styles. For more information see Bibliography & Citations 102 – Building Custom styles .
Create a bibliography from your sources
If you want to create a bibliography from your sources, do the following:
Click where you want to insert a bibliography. Typically, they are at the end of a document.
On the References tab, in the Citations & Bibliography group , click Bibliography .
Similar to the Table of Contents builder in Word, you can select a predesigned bibliography format that includes a title, or you can just click Insert Bibliography to add the citation without a title.
If you want to learn more about using citation placeholders and editing sources, take a look at Create a bibliography . Or, if you want to export your bibliography sources to another computer, check out this post on the Microsoft Word blog .
APA 6th Edition citation style fix procedure.
APA style uses the author's name and publication date. If you have multiple citations from the same author, there is a known Word bug where the citation generator fills in the publication title when it's not supposed to. If this happens to you, here's how to fix the problem:
In the Word document, click the citation.
Click the down-arrow, and then click Edit Citation .
Click the Title checkbox, and then click OK .
APA and MLA can change their formats, so you’ll want to ensure that these format versions meet your requirements. You can create your own updated version of a style or build custom styles. For more information see Bibliography & Citations 102 – Building Custom styles .
If you are using the APA 5th Edition citation style, there’s one issue you should be aware of. APA style uses the author's name and publication date. If you have multiple citations from the same author, there is a known Word 2010 bug where the citation generator fills in the publication title when it's not supposed to. If this happens to you, see the section entitled, ‘ APA 5th Edition citation style fix procedure below.
Click where you want to insert a bibliography. Typically they are at the end of a document.
On the References tab, in the Citations & Bibliography group, click Bibliography .
If you want to learn more about using citation placeholders and editing sources, take a look at Creating a bibliography in Word 2010 . Or if you want to export your bibliography sources to another computer, check out this post on the Microsoft Word blog .
APA 5th Edition citation style fix procedure
APA style uses the author's name and publication date. If you have multiple citations from the same author, there is a known Word 2010 bug where the citation generator fills in the publication title when it's not supposed to. If this happens to you, here's how to fix the problem:
You can't automatically generate citations in Word Online. Word Online preserves the bibliography in your document, but it doesn’t provide a way to create one.
Instead, if you have the desktop version of Word, select Open in Word to open the document.
Then follow the steps for Word desktop .
When you’re done and you save the document in Word, you’ll see the table of contents when you reopen the doc in Word Online.
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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / Citation Basics / MLA vs APA
When we talk about style at EasyBib.com, we’re not talking about the clothes, shoes, or accessories we’re rocking. We’re talking about the best type of style there is — citation styles!
Even though there are thousands of citation styles in existence (yes, thousands!), the world generally revolves around the two most commonly used citation styles: MLA and APA . Both have been around for quite a long time and most students and researchers use one or the other to cite their sources. Even though MLA and APA are popular citation styles that are taught in thousands of schools each year, there are always tons of questions about the differences between the two. That’s why we’ve put together a handy visual infographic showing the main differences between MLA and APA.
If you’ve been wondering what MLA and APA stands for, which disciplines use the styles, how the names of authors and titles are displayed, or how to format MLA in-text citations or APA citations , look no further! Our colorful infographic has the main differences highlighted just for you. It’s easy to read, easy to understand, and will give you the lowdown on the main points you need to know about MLA vs. APA. If that wasn’t enough, we even have examples thrown in to help you make sense of everything. #winning!
After you’ve read through our infographic, head to our homepage, and give our citation generator and grammar checker a whirl. Both are innovative, easy-to-use tools to help rock any and all research projects and written assignments. Head on over and try them out now!
Written by Michele Kirschenbaum. Michele Kirschenbaum is a school library media specialist.
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Resources – mla vs. apa, introduction to the topic.
As students at Northwestern University, most of us are familiar with the necessity of, and perhaps the basic rules for, citing the sources we reference while writing papers or assignments. Depending on our areas of study, however, we are often most familiar with the requirements of just one style guide when it comes to citations. It can thus be challenging when a professor requests citations according to guidelines with which we are not familiar. This brief citation guide will focus on the rules of two styles most commonly used at Northwestern—those of the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA). Though the basic formats for each of these styles are not exactly the same, many students might be surprised to see that some similarities actually do exist between the two!
MLA vs. APA: Some Key Differences
MLA Basic Format:
- In-text citations that refer readers to a list of works cited at the end of the paper
- If the author is named in a signal phrase within the sentence, the page number should be provided in a parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence (in parentheses, before the period).
- If the author is not named in the sentence, then the last name of the author should appear in the parenthetical citation at the end of the sentence, with the page number (there should be no punctuation between the name and the page number). Example: (Rodosky 5).
APA Basic Format:
- In-text citations, which provide at least the author’s name and year of publication (the page number should also be given for direct quotations, and some summaries/paraphrases) and refer readers to a list of references at the end of the paper
- A quotation should be introduced by a signal phrase including the author’s name, which should be immediately followed by the year of publication in parentheses; the page number should be included in parentheses after the quotation, preceded by “p.” or “pp.”
- If the author’s name is not included in a signal phrase, then the author’s name, year of publication, and page number should be listed in a parenthetical citation after the quotation.
- For a summary or paraphrase, use the same format as for a quotation (listed above); the page number should still be included to help readers find the passage
Table of Similarities and Differences
Comparison of Rules:
* Purple sections indicate rules that are the same for both styles.
Citations Lists: An MLA Works Cited vs. an APA List of References
Mla works cited.
Book Author last name, first name. Title . City of publication: Publisher, Date. Medium.
Example: Sacks, Oliver. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain . New York: Knopf, 2007. Print.
Article Author last name, first name. “Article title.” Journal title volume/issue (year): page(s). Medium
Example: Shen, Min. “ ‘Quite a Moon!’ The Archetypal Feminine in Our Town .” American Drama 16.2 (2007): 1-14. Print.
Website Author last name, first name/organization name. Title of website . Sponsor of site, year updated. Medium. Date of access (day month year).
Example: American Library Association. American Library Association . ALA, 2008. Web. 14 Jan. 2009.
* If there is no author, start with the title of the website; if there is no title, use the “home page” or similar description in place of title.
- always include the medium in which the work was published
- shorten publishers’ names to their first principle word; abbreviate “University” and “Press” to “UP”
- use the date on the title page or the most recent date on the copyright page
Book Author last name, initial(s). (year). Title . Place of publication: Publisher.
Example : Egeland, J. (2008). A billion lives: An eyewitness report from the frontlines of humanity . New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
Article Author last name, initial(s). (year). Title (article). Journal title, volume , pages. DOI
Example : Holtug, N. (2010). Immigration and the politics of social cohesion. Ethnicities, 10 , 435-451. doi:10.1177/1468796810378320
Document from a Website Author(s’) last name, initial(s)/organization name. (online publication date). Document title . Retrieved from URL.
Example : Cain, A., & Burris, M. (1999, April). Investigation of the use of mobile phones while driving . Retrieved from http://www.cutr.usf.edu/pdf/mobile_phone_text.PDF
*If referring to specific section in a web document, list the title of the section between the year and the title of web document.
- all author’s names should be inverted, with initials used for their first and middle names
- the date of publication should appear immediately after the author’s name (or title if author is unknown)
Comparison of Rules
Purple sections indicate rules that are the same for both styles.
Practice Exercises: Converting and Correcting Citation Styles
Practice exercise 1.
Exercise 1: Are the following examples of citations correctly formatted? If not, correct them.
(A.) MLA Works Cited
1.) Harris, Shon, Allen Harper, Chris Eagle, and Jonathan Ness. Gray Hat Hacking . 2nd ed. New York: McGraw, 2007. Print
2.) von Drehle, David. Time . “The Ghosts of Memphis.” 7 Apr. 2008: 34-37. Print.
3.) Plath, Sylvia. “The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath.” Ed. Karen V. Kukil. New York: Anchor-Doubleday, 2000. Print.
4.) Peterson, Susan Lynn. The Life of Martin Luther . Susan Lynn Peterson, 2005. Web. 24 Jan. 2009.
(B.) APA References
1.) Svoboda, Elizabeth. (2008, October 21). Deep in the Rain Forest, Stalking the Next Pandemic. The New York Times , p. D5.
2.) Musich, M. A., & Wilson, J. (2007). Volunteers: A social profile . Bloomington: Indiana University Press.
3.) McKenzie, F. R. Theory and practice with adolescents: An applied approach . Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books, 2008.
4.) Eskritt, M., & Mcleod, K. (2008). Children’s note taking as a mnemonic tool. Journal of Experimental Child Psychology, 101 , 52-74. doi:10.1016/jecp.2008.05.007
Answer Key for Exercise 1
Exercise 1: (A.) MLA Works Cited
2.) Incorrect [von Drehle, David. “The Ghosts of Memphis.” Time 7 Apr. 2008: 34-37. Print.]
3.) Incorrect [Plath, Sylvia. The Unabridged Journals of Sylvia Plath . Ed. Karen V. Kukil. New York: Anchor-Doubleday, 2000. Print]
Exercise 1: (B.) APA References
1.) Incorrect [Svoboda, E. (2008, October 21). Deep in the rain forest, stalking the next pandemic. The New York Times , p. D5.]
3.) Incorrect [McKenzie, F. R. (2008). Theory and practice with adolescents: An applied approach . Chicago, IL: Lyceum Books.
Practice Exercise 2
Exercise 2: Convert the following citations from MLA format to APA format.
1.) Sacks, Oliver. Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain . New York: Knopf, 2007. Print.
2.) Shen, Min. “ ‘Quite a Moon!’ The Archetypal Feminine in Our Town .” American Drama 16.2 (2007): 1-14. Print.
3.) American Library Association. American Library Association . ALA, 2008. Web. 14 Jan. 2009.
Answer Key for Exercise 2
1.) Sacks, O. (2007). Musicophilia: Tales of Music and the Brain . New York, NY: Knopf.
2.) Shen, M. (2007). “ ‘Quite a Moon!’ The Archetypal Feminine in Our Town .” American Drama 16, 2: 1-14.
3.) American Library Association. (2008). American Library Association . Retrieved from http://www.ala.org/
Practice Exercise 3
Exercise 3: Convert the following citations from APA format to MLA format.
1.) Egeland, J. (2008). A billion lives: An eyewitness report from the frontlines of humanity . New York, NY: Simon & Schuster.
2.) Holtug, N. (2010). Immigration and the politics of social cohesion. Ethnicities, 10 , 435-451. doi:10.1177/1468796810378320
3.) Cain, A., & Burris, M. (1999, April). Investigation of the use of mobile phones while driving . Retrieved from http://www.cutr.usf.edu/pdf/mobile_phone_text.PDF
Answer Key for Exercise 3
1.) Egeland, Jan. A Billion Lives: An Eyewitness Report From the Frontlines of Humanity . New York: Simon Schuster, 2008. Print.
2.) Holtug, Nils. “Immigration and the Politics of Social Cohesion.” Ethnicities 10 (2010): 435-451. Print.
3.) Cain, Alasdair and Mark Burris. “Investigation of the Use of Mobile Phones While Driving.” Center for Urban Transportation Research . Center for Urban Transportation Research, 1999. Web 14 Jan. 2009.
Developed by Lauren Rodosky
Rules and examples adapted from:
Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers, A Pocket Style Manual: Sixth Edition (Boston: Bedford/St. Martin’s, 2012).
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What is MLA, APA, and CMS?
MLA stands for Modern Language Association. It is a style of formatting academic papers that is used mostly in the arts and humanities.
APA stands for American Psychological Association, the professional guild who first developed the guidelines of the style. APA is a style of formatting academic papers that is used mostly in the social sciences.
CMS stands for the Chicago Manual of Style. It is a style of formatting written works that is most widely used in publishing.
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Seeing and writing 4th ed rules for writers 6th ed with 2009 mla and 2010 apa updates.
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EBOOK Doing Social Research A Global Context
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With its focus on critical thinking and applied learning, Doing Social Research provides a unique approach to conducting social research. The book is organised according to the broad chronology of developing and conducting a typical student research project and provides coverage of key theories alongside exercises, case studies and scenarios.Written specifically for students in South Africa and the developing world and drawing on examples from a range of fields in the social sciences, the book brings research methods to life.
MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing
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Since its publication in 1985, the "MLA Style Manual" has been the standard guide for graduate students, teachers, and scholars in the humanities and for professional writers in many fields. Extensively reorganized and revised, the new edition contains several added sections and updated guidelines on citing electronic works--including materials found on the World Wide Web.
Pocket Style Manual
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Publication manual of the american psychological association.
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A writer s reference with 2009 mla and 2010 apa updates.
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Click here to find out more about the 2009 MLA Updates and the 2010 APA Updates. A Writer’s Reference is the most widely adopted college handbook ever published. The new edition is available in a classic version that provides more help with academic writing, serves a wider range of multilingual students, and lends more support for college research — all in an easy-to-use quick-reference format. Now for all the ways you teach your course, you can choose the classic version or choose from among 4 additional versions with varied content. A Writer’s Reference with Exercises is tailor-made for classroom use or for additional grammar practice with 86 integrated exercise sets. A Writer’s Reference with Writing in the Disciplines provides help for college writing beyond composition with advice and models in six academic disciplines. A Writer’s Reference with Writing about Literature includes an entire tabbed section on interpreting and writing about works of literature, with two annotated student essays. A Writer’s Reference with Extra Help for ESL Writers includes an entire tabbed section for nonnative speakers of English; it offers targeted advice and strategies for college writing and research.
The Chicago Manual of Style
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Provides information on manuscript preparation, punctuation, spelling, quotations, captions, tables, abbreviations, references, bibliographies, notes, and indexes, with sections on journals and electronic media.
Writing Your Journal Article in Twelve Weeks
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Writing Spaces 1
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Volumes in Writing Spaces: Readings on Writing offer multiple perspectives on a wide-range of topics about writing, much like the model made famous by Wendy Bishop’s “The Subject Is . . .” series. In each chapter, authors present their unique views, insights, and strategies for writing by addressing the undergraduate reader directly. Drawing on their own experiences, these teachers-as-writers invite students to join in the larger conversation about developing nearly every aspect of craft of writing. Consequently, each essay functions as a standalone text that can easily complement other selected readings in writing or writing-intensive courses across the disciplines at any level. Topics in Volume 1 of the series include academic writing, how to interpret writing assignments, motives for writing, rhetorical analysis, revision, invention, writing centers, argumentation, narrative, reflective writing, Wikipedia, patchwriting, collaboration, and genres.
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How to Write a Bibliography in APA and MLA styles With Examples
What is a bibliography.
Your bibliography should include a minimum of three written sources of information about your topic from books, encyclopedias, and periodicals. You may have additional information from the Web if appropriate.
But, you develop a bibliography only after first preparing a background research plan — a road map of the research questions you need to answer. Before you compose your bibliography, you will need to develop your background research plan.
With your background research plan in hand, you will find sources of information that will help you with your science fair project. As you find this information it will be important for you to write down where the sources are from. You can use the Bibliography Worksheet to help you, just print out a few copies and take them with you to the library. As you find a source, write in all of the necessary information. This way, when you are typing your bibliography you won't need to go back to the library and find any missing information. The more information you write down about your source, the easier it will be for you to find if you want to read it again.
When you are writing your report, you will use the sources in your bibliography to remind you of different facts and background information you used for your science fair project. Each time you use some information from a source, you will need to cite the source that it came from. To cite a source, simply put the author's name and the date of the publication in parentheses (Author, date) in your text. If the person reading your report wants to find the information and read more about it, they can look up the reference in your bibliography for more detail about the source. That is why each source you use must be listed in a detailed bibliography with enough information for someone to go and find it by themselves.
How to Write a Bibliography
- Make a list to keep track of ALL the books, magazines, and websites you read as you follow your background research plan . Later this list of sources will become your bibliography .
- Most teachers want you to have at least three written sources of information.
- Write down, photocopy, or print the following information for each source you find. You can use the Science Buddies Bibliography Worksheet to help you.
- the title page of a book, encyclopedia or dictionary
- the heading of an article
- the front, second, or editorial page of the newspaper
- the contents page of a journal or magazine
- the header (at the top) or footer (at the bottom) of a Web site
- the About or the Contact page of a Web site
- When it is time to turn in your Bibliography, type all of your sources into a list. Use the examples in MLA Format Examples or APA Format Examples as a template to insure that each source is formatted correctly.
- List the sources in alphabetical order using the author's last name. If a source has more than one author, alphabetize using the first one. If an author is unknown, alphabetize that source using the title instead.
Examples of Bibliography Format
Examples of bibliography formats.
There are standards for documenting sources of information in research papers. Even though different journals may use a slightly different format for the bibliography, they all contain the same basic information. The most basic information that each reference should have is the author's name, the title, the date, and the source.
Different types of sources have different formatting in the bibliography. In American schools, the two most commonly used guidelines for this formatting are published by the MLA (Modern Language Association) and the APA (American Psychological Association).
The MLA guidelines call for the bibliography to be called Works Cited. Science Buddies has summarized some of the most common MLA formats for your use: MLA Format Examples .
The APA guidelines call for the bibliography to be called the Reference List. Science Buddies has summarized some of the most common APA formats for your use: APA Format Examples .
Your teacher will probably tell you which set of guidelines to use.
On the Science Buddies website we use the following guidelines:
- APA format for online sources
- MLA format for all other sources
- APA (author, date, page) format for citations in our articles
Download and print the Science Buddies Bibliography Worksheet . Keep several copies with you and fill in the information as you do your research. When you are finished, type the information from the worksheet into a formatted bibliography using the examples listed above.
Bibliography checklist, explore our science videos.
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Home | Offices | Writing Center | APA, ASA, Chicago, & MLA Formats
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APA, ASA, Chicago, & MLA Formats
MLA Style is a citation and style guide set forth by the Modern Language Association of America. It is mostly used in writing for the liberal arts and humanities. For more information on MLA Style, including information on in-text citations and Works Cited formatting, consult the Purdue Owl's section on MLA Style.
These sample papers show a variety of MLA formatting elements, including in-text citations and Works Cited pages.
APA Style is from the American Psychology Association and is utilized mostly by the Social Sciences. We have a sample paper with directions on how to format correctly. Access this paper (written by the Department Chair of McKendree's Nursing Department) by clicking on this link: Sample Paper .
Additional basics of APA are covered in the vidcast available at YouTube<APA Basics from the OWL at Purdue University. A vidcast of how to assemble the Reference Page is also available. Nursing students might also appreciate this YouTube instructional video: http://youtu.be/fajfSCQnruk . The APA sponsors an excellent website: www.apastyle.org which offers a great deal of information for students and instructors. Access a PowerPoint tutorial about APA style from the Purdue OWL. A ccess our own Quick guide to common APA sources from the most updated and current 6th edition, 2nd printing.
ASA Style is a citation style set forth by the American Sociological Association. It is used primarily for sociological research papers.
For an in-depth look at ASA see the Purdue OWL page on ASA.
Chicago Style is a style laid down by The Chicago Manual of Style.
Here are some helpful video tutorials that emphasize the most recent updates.
A Chicago Style quick guide.
A sample paper using Chicago Style.
For more information on Chicago Style, consult the Purdue OWL section.
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Why are there different citation styles, understanding different citation formats, official sites, more notes on chicago style footnotes, chicago style bibliographies.
Academic disciplines have varying expectations for how to list citation information. In some instances, even two journals in the same field will use different styles. This guide covers the three main styles used at Yale. All three of these styles require the same basic information, but the order of that information varies, in part because different academic fields emphasize different elements of a source when referring to previous research.
The first two styles are known as “in-text” citation styles, which means that you give some information about the source directly after the quotation, but leave the rest to a list of References (APA) or Works Cited (MLA) at the end of the paper. (1) MLA style, defined by the Modern Language Association, is most common in the humanities. Because humanities research highlights how one piece of writing influences another, MLA style emphasizes the author’s name and the page in the original text you’re using. This information allows scholars to track down easily the exact sentences you’re analyzing. (2) APA style, defined by the American Psychological Association, is most common in the social sciences. Although the author’s name is an important element in APA citations, this style emphasizes the year the source was published, rather than the page number, which allows a reader to see quickly how the research you’re writing about has evolved over time.
The alternative to in-text citation is to use footnotes, which give source information at the bottom of the page. The footnote style we demonstrate here is called Chicago style, defined by the University of Chicago. Chicago style is especially popular in historical research. When developing a historical explanation from multiple primary sources, using footnotes instead of inserting parenthetical information allows the reader to focus on the evidence instead of being distracted by the publication information about that evidence. The footnotes can be consulted if someone wants to track down your source for further research. Chicago style is more flexible than MLA and APA formats, and therefore more complicated to explain. Please see More Notes on Chicago Style Footnotes for more information about how Chicago style is treated in this guide. All three of these styles have different conventions for how to refer to a source in the body of your paper. See Signaling Sources in the Body of Your Paper for more information.
Note: Some works written with MLA or APA style also include what are called discursive footnotes. Rather than giving only the author and title of the sources, these notes discuss in a sentence or two some aspect of the evidence that is not part of the paper’s main argument. Discursive footnotes are also welcome in Chicago style, and many papers that use Chicago style footnotes will mix discursive footnotes with others that just give bibliographical information. See Where to Cite for more information about this kind of footnote.
You should check with your instructors about the style they want you to use. When in doubt, remember that the goal of your citations is to help a reader who wishes to consult your sources directly. Give enough information to make such retrieval easy. The examples below are correct, and can be relied on as guides for citing your sources. But the examples don’t always highlight very slight variations in format among the styles (for instance, whether to use a colon or parentheses to separate the issue number from the volume number in a quarterly journal). For more information about each of these citation styles, see the websites listed below.
http://www.mla.org http://www.apastyle.org/ http://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/index.html
Although not officially linked to the authors of MLA, APA, or Chicago style, the following websites are from reputable colleges and offer discussions of the various styles that can supplement the advice in Writing at Yale .
In this guide, we use the phrase “Chicago style” to refer to references that take place in footnotes. (The alternative to these notes is “in-text citations”; see Why are there Different Citation Styles? for more information.) But Chicago style is actually very flexible, and offers writers a choice of several different formats. It even invites the mixing of formats, provided that the result is clear and consistent. For instance, the fifteenth edition of The Chicago Manual of Style permits either footnotes or in-text citation styles; it provides information on in-text citation by page number (like MLA style) or by year of publication (like APA style); it even provides variations in footnote style, depending on whether or not the paper includes a full Bibliography at the end.
Because the primary advantages of using footnotes are simplicity and concision, this guide describes only one variation of Chicago style: shortened footnotes in a paper that gives a full Bibliography. What this means is that our examples of Chicago footnotes do not give full bibliographical information at the bottom of the page. Instead, our footnote examples give brief references that would be supplemented, at the end of the paper, with a full Bibliography.
The basic form for a shortened footnote reference is:
footnote number, author’s last name, title of the work, and page number you’ve quoted from.
If the title is more than four words long, you would normally list a shortened version of it.
If your teacher tells you to use Chicago style, or footnotes, you should check to see if the shortened format is acceptable. If you need to give the full citation, the format for each note is nearly identical to MLA format, except that a full footnote generally begins with the first name of the author. If in doubt, we suggest the shortened format (the one we demonstrate here) because it’s the most elegant. It’s also what the Chicago editors recommend.
Note that the footnotes illustrated in this guide focus on publication information, giving only the data necessary for your reader to track down the source. But footnotes can also be used to comment on a source. Such footnotes are often referred to as discursive footnotes, and they are also used in MLA and APA style to add information about a source. Historians, especially, sometimes add brief discussions of a source in the footnote that accompanies its first mention. Ask your teachers for examples of writing that use this technique, or browse through the sample papers posted on other parts of the Writing Center website. See Where to Cite for more information about this kind of footnote.
For published, print sources, instructions for listing sources in a Chicago Bibliography are the same as for an MLA Works Cited page.
For unpublished or electronic sources, listings in a Chicago Bibliography are slightly different than for an MLA Works Cited. This guide mentions those variations where relevant.
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APA and MLA are two of the most commonly used citation styles. APA Style Is defined in the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, currently in its 7th edition. The rules of MLA style are found in the MLA Handbook, currently in its 9th edition (published by the Modern Language Association).
MLA is a style of documentation that may be applied to many different types of writing. Since texts have become increasingly digital, and the same document may often be found in several different sources, following a set of rigid rules no longer suffices. Thus, the current system is based on a few guiding principles, rather than an extensive ...
Most people know style guides as rules for citation formatting. Common and popular style guides include MLA and APA, both of which the OWL maintains extensive resources on, but there are many more that the OWL does not cover in depth or at all. Style guides, however, are not just for citation.
APA (American Psychological Association) style is most commonly used to cite sources within the social sciences. This resource, revised according to the 7 th edition of the APA manual, offers examples for the general format of APA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the reference page.
MLA style is primarily a set of guidelines for citation and formatting in academic papers. It's best known for its source citation template. It includes limited guidance on writing mechanics and no recommendations for usage. Who uses MLA style?
APA (American Psychological Association) is used by Education, Psychology, and Sciences MLA (Modern Language Association) style is used by the Humanities Chicago/Turabian style is generally used by Business, History, and the Fine Arts *You will need to consult with your professor to determine what is required in your specific course.
APA Style Write With Clarity, Precision, and Inclusion APA Style is used by writers in many disciplines around the world for concise, powerful, and persuasive scholarly communication. About APA Style 7th Edition Now Available Subscribe to our newsletter
An appropriate format for both styles is: double-spaced, with the font Times New Roman sized at 12 points, and one-inch margins all around. A major focus for both styles is to ensure that your sources -- whether a book you quote from directly or a journal article from which you take an idea -- are clearly credited.
There are three main "Schools of Style" used to properly format an academic paper, referred to as APA, MLA, or CMS. APA style: These are the official guidelines put forth by the American Psychological Association, now in its sixth edition. This is the preference of the social sciences, so if you are studying sociology, psychology, medicine, or ...
The MLA style was created by the Modern Language Association for referencing sources in academic writing. It has since been used in classrooms as well as by scholars, journal publishers, and academics at large. When referencing with the MLA style, the following details are listed in order: Author. Title of source. Title of container
Throughout your paper, you need to apply the following APA format guidelines: Set page margins to 1 inch on all sides. Double-space all text, including headings. Indent the first line of every paragraph 0.5 inches. Use an accessible font (e.g., Times New Roman 12pt., Arial 11pt., or Georgia 11pt.). Include a page number on every page.
MLA General Format. MLA Style specifies guidelines for formatting manuscripts and citing research in writing. MLA Style also provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citation in their essays and Works Cited pages. Writers who properly use MLA also build their credibility by demonstrating accountability ...
Style Guide Overview MLA Guide APA Guide Chicago Guide OWL Exercises Note for Purdue Students: Schedule a consultation at the on-campus writing lab to get more in-depth writing help from one of our tutors.
Click the style that you want to use for the citation and source. Click at the end of the sentence or phrase that you want to cite. Click Insert Citation and then select Add New Source . In the Create Source box, type in the citation details, and then click OK.
When we talk about style at EasyBib.com, we're not talking about the clothes, shoes, or accessories we're rocking. We're talking about the best type of style there is — citation styles! Even though there are thousands of citation styles in existence (yes, thousands!), the world generally revolves around the two most commonly used citation styles: MLA and APA.
MLA vs. APA: Some Key Differences In-Text Citations Table of Similarities and Differences Citations Lists: An MLA Works Cited vs. an APA List of References Table of Similarities and Differences Practice Exercises: Converting and Correcting Citation Styles Practice Exercise 1 Answer Key for Exercise 1 Practice Exercise 2 Answer Key for Exercise 2
MLA stands for Modern Language Association. It is a style of formatting academic papers that is used mostly in the arts and humanities. APA stands for American Psychological Association, the professional guild who first developed the guidelines of the style. APA is a style of formatting academic papers that is used mostly in the social sciences.
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Download Essayist - APA, MLA & More and enjoy it on your iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, or Mac OS X 11.0 or later. Try Essayist for free today! "App of the Day" — Apple "Editors' Choice" — Apple "A-Plus Apps for Students " — Apple "Apps You Need This Week" — Apple Essayist allows you to write APA, MLA, Chicago & Harvard Style essays with ...
When it is time to turn in your Bibliography, type all of your sources into a list. Use the examples in MLA Format Examples or APA Format Examples as a template to insure that each source is formatted correctly. List the sources in alphabetical order using the author's last name.
APA, ASA, Chicago, & MLA Formats MLA Style is a citation and style guide set forth by the Modern Language Association of America. It is mostly used in writing for the liberal arts and humanities. For more information on MLA Style, including information on in-text citations and Works Cited formatting, consult the Purdue Owl's section on MLA Style.
(1) MLA style, defined by the Modern Language Association, is most common in the humanities. Because humanities research highlights how one piece of writing influences another, MLA style emphasizes the author's name and the page in the original text you're using.