A style guide is a book that outlines the “rules” necessary to
follow for any one kind of writing. These rules may be about
simple things like grammar and punctuation, or more
substantive questions about citation, layout, or format. Some
guides may also speak to style as it applies to content and
voice. Below is a primer on style guides. Note that these are
U.S.-based style guides, and international users are sure to
have their own rules to follow and books to buy! :
Press . Associated Press is the go-to style for
journalists and news writing. Sometimes this covers magazine
writing, too, but each title is different. AP Style was originally
written with the news wire in mind, and so symbols and “extras”
like italics and underlining are kept to a minimum. For example,
Latin names are printed without their accents in straight AP
Style (although many publications correct this in their house
Modern Language Association style is
almost exclusively used in the academic world, and applies
mostly to literature and humanities. This is likely the style first
introduced to most writing students and undergrads. It does
carry some similarities to CMS teachings.
American Psychological Association . The APA carries
its own standard for the social sciences such as psychology,
sociology, education and politics. (Although the American
Sociological Association produces a style guide specifically for
sociology). APA style is sometimes used for engineering and
business work, too.
Chicago Manual of Style . CMS is the standard for book
publishing, both fiction and non-fiction. It is not generally used
for scholarly publishing (journals and research), although it is
sometimes used for history. CMS is currently in its 15th
Turabian: Turabian style is named after the book’s author,
Kate Turabian, and focuses on style in research work. It is used
for the research or academic arm of many subjects. In fact,
many grad and undergrad students will be directed to use
Turabian despite the availability of another system in their
discipline. The CMS actually refers students to Turabian, and
many will find it much easier to navigate, anyway.
AMA. The American Medical Association is
currently in its 10th edition of the AMA style guide, printed by
Oxford Press. Of course, this is the go-to manual for health,
medicine and biology subjects.
NLM. The National Library of Medicine has
an online-only style guide that is often used in some of the
CSE. The Council of Science Editors Manual covers
natural sciences and biology.
ACS. The American Chemical Society got in on the
act with a style guide specifically for (you guessed it!)
ASA. Is the American Sociological Association
trying to sway some former APA users? Maybe, although
the APA still seems to be the more popular, even with more
Harvard Style. Also called the Author-Date style of
citation, but not a fully published guide per se.
The APA carries its own standard for the social sciences such
as psychology, sociology, education and politics. (Although the
American Sociological Association produces a style guide
specifically for sociology). APA style is sometimes used for
engineering and business work, too.
General APA Guidelines
Your essay should be typed, double-spaced on standard-sized
paper (8.5" x 11") with 1" margins on all sides. You should use
a clear font that is highly readable. APA recommends using 12
pt. Times New Roman font.
(Include a page header (also known as the "running
head") at the top of every page. To create a page
header/running head, insert page numbers flush right. Then
type "TITLE OF YOUR PAPER" in the header flush left using
all capital letters. The running head is a shortened version of
your paper's title and cannot exceed 50 characters including
spacing and punctuation.
Type your title in upper and lowercase letters centered in the
upper half of the page. APA recommends that your title be no
more than 12 words in length and that it should not contain
abbreviations or words that serve no purpose. Your title may
take up one or two lines. All text on the title page, and
throughout your paper, should be double-spaced.
Beneath the title, type the author's name: first name, middle
initial(s), and last name. Do not use titles (Dr.) or degrees
Beneath the author's name, type the institutional affiliation ,
which should indicate the location where the author(s)
conducted the research.
a new page. Your abstract page should already include
the page header (described above). On the first line of the
abstract page, center the word “Abstract” (no bold, formatting,
italics, underlining, or quotation marks).
Beginning with the next line, write a concise summary of the key
points of your research. (Do not indent.) Your abstract should
contain at least your research topic, research questions,
participants, methods, results, data analysis, and conclusions. You
may also include possible implications of your research and future
work you see connected with your findings. Your abstract should
be a single paragraph double-spaced. Your abstract should be
between 150 and 250 words.
You may also want to list keywords from your paper in your
abstract. To do this, indent as you would if you were starting a new
paragraph, type Keywords: (italicized), and then list your
keywords. Listing your keywords will help researchers find your
work in databases.
APA Formatting and Style Guide
Margins: The standard margin size in APA is 2.5cm (1 inch) for
all four sides.
Font & Spacing: The usual fonts for APA are Times New
Roman or Courier, and the size is always 12-pt. Times New
Roman is usually expected at university. Double space your paper.
Remember that when you double space a paper, you DO NOT
need to leave an extra line between paragraphs. While your left
margins should be flush, do not justify the right side of your text.
The first line of every paragraph should be indented five spaces.
Paper Size: Use standard 8 ½ by 11 inch paper. Unless
specified by your professor, do not put your paper in a plastic
binder or cover.
Page Header: Include a "header" in the top right corner of each
page (use the "header" function in your word processor to ensure
correct placement). The header should include the first two or
three words of your paper's title and the page number. The page
number should be five spaces after the end of the "header".
Major Sections: Your essay should include four sections (Title
Page, Abstract, Main Body, References).
a. Title Page: The title goes in the upper half of the title page,
centred, typed in the same font as the rest of your paper. Type your
name and the name of your university on separate lines under your
title. Include a page header (as defined above) and a running head.
Your running head should be near the top of the page; it should
begin with the words "Running head" followed by the two or three
words from your title that constitute the "header" on each page
indicating the "header" centre of the page.
b. Abstract : The abstract should appear on page two of your
essay. Ensure your "header" is at the top of the page; the title of this
page should be the word "Abstract" (without quotations marks or
other formatting) centred on the first line. Your abstract should be
no longer than 120 words and should provide a summary of your
paper. Do not indent your abstract.
c. Body: The body of your essay presents your research and analysis
divided into sections. There are five levels of headings in APA,
although you can use as many as your paper requires. Each level of
heading has a different type face and is positioned differently. Most
undergraduate papers will use 2 or 3 levels of headings.
d. References : Every essay must include a list of references at the
end. It provides all the publication information for the sources you cite
in the body of your essay. The References page must be separate from
the rest of your essay. It should have the title References (with no
quotations or italics, in the same font as the rest of your paper).
entries should be organized alphabetically by the last name of the first
author; provide the last name and the initials for each authors
entries should be double-spaced with a five-space hanging indent for
all lines .
Bonnie, R. J., Jeffries, J. C., Jr., & Low, P. W. (2000). A case study in
the insanity defense: The trial of John Hinckley, Jr. (2nd ed.). New
York, NY: Foundation Press.
Cannon, A. (2003, November 17). Sniper insanity? U. S. News &
World Report, 135 (17) p. 35.
Parzen, M. D. (2003). Toward a culture bound syndrome-based
insanity defense. Culture, Medicine & Psychiatry, 27, 131–155.