Style Guides: Formats & Examples

Instructor: Mary Firestone
Find out what style guides are and what they're used for. Learn about types of style guides and which disciplines use them. Read the lesson and take a quiz to test your knowledge.

Style Guides

Style guides provide the rules for how a document should look and for how research is documented. Style guides help students avoid plagiarism, and the overall uniformity helps avoid confusion about how to put a paper together. Style guides are used by students, journalists, researchers, and professionals. Two of the most common types of style guides are described below.

American Psychological Association (APA)

APA style is used in the social sciences, such as psychology, sociology and education. Like other style guides, it has specific requirements for the document's appearance and citations. The basic format is described below:

  • APA requires a separate title page. It should have a running head with the title and page number. The work's title should also appear in the center of the page, with the author's name and the name of the institution or college. An 'author note' at bottom should have the class name and professor's name. An abstract follows the title page, with the title 'Abstract' centered at the top. The paper should be double spaced throughout, including the lines in the title.
  • In-text citations in APA style use an author-year format (Jones, 20XX), or 'According to Jones (20XX), the world is warmer.' If no author name is available, then the title or a shortened version of the title should appear in parenthesis as the citation. Full web addresses and URLs should never be used as citations, but website names or web articles can be used if no author name is available. All citations for quoted material must include the page number. (Jones, 20XX, p.5).
  • The References page is list of all sources used in the paper. Anything cited in-text must also appear on the References page.

Modern Language Association (MLA)

The MLA style of documentation is used for topics in the Humanities such as English literature, literary criticism, music, philosophy and others.

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