Styles of Documentation :

Mastering The Conventions of Documentation

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Styles of Documentation :

Styles of Documentation vary considerably across disciplines, so you will need to find out which style is preferred in the field for which you are writing. Your professor will probably indicate which type of documentation you should use and which style manual you should consult if you have questions. Another way to find out this kind of information, particularly if you do not have an instructor's guidance is to check the form of notes and bibliography entries of articles used in the scholarly journals of your field. Most journals publish a page of guidelines for submitting manuscripts at least once a year that includes this information.

The most common styles of documentation currently used in academic writing are those endorsed by the MLA (Modern Language Association), the APA (American Psychological Association) and the CSE (Council of Science Editors, formerly known as CBE - Council of Biology Editors) and those published by the University of Chicago Press (both in the Chicago Manual of Style and in Turabian's A Manual for Writers of Term Papers, Theses and Dissertations). Each of these organizations publishes its own style manual which explains the basic principles of its documentation style and illustrates note and bibliography entries for a wide variety of sources.

Humanities : MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Fifth Edition, 1999

Social sciences : Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Fifth Edition, 2001

Life sciences : Scientific Style and Format: The CBE Manual for Authors, Editors and Publishers, Sixth Edition, 1994

Business and technical communication : The Chicago Man┬Čual of Style, Fourteenth Edition, 1993

Engineering : Information for IEEE Transactions, Journals and Leuers Authors, available online at transactions/information.htm (click on "Information for Authors")

Chemistry : The ACS Style Guide, 1997(American Chemical Society)

Physics : The AlP Style Manual, 1990 (American Institute of Physics)

Medical fields : American Medical Association Manual of Style, Ninth Edition, 1998

Journalism : AP Stylebook, 2000 (Associated Press)

Geology : Suggestions to Authors of the Reports of the United States Geological Survey, Seventh Edition, 1991

Law : The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, Seventeenth Edition, 2000

Most college libraries have copies of these style manuals and many more. In the remainder of this chapter, you will find sample documentation entries in MLA and APA style for commonly cited types of sources including electronic sources.

Finding Information about Documentation on the Web :

Many Web pages are available to show you how to document in MLA or APA style. Unfortunately, the vast majority of them that we have checked are not up-to-date. Within the last few years, both the MLA and the APA have brought out new editions of their style manuals, each with small but significant changes, especially in the ways they cite Internet pages and other electronic materials. If you want to see the MLA's own home page for its style manual, check out There is a great list of frequently asked questions (FAQs), covering such sticky subjects as underlining versus italics, what to do if the Web page you're citing has no page numbers and so on. Similarly, if you want to see the APA's home page for its style manual, that is at

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Mastering The Conventions of Documentation,

  • Styles of Documentations

  • In-Text Citation

  • Bibliographic Documentation

  • Successful Writing Index

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