Get to Know Rules to Make Needed Formatting Styles in Writing


In 2012, the Journal of European Psychology Students conducted an interesting study of student’s academic manuscripts on the subject of correct APA use. It appeared that at an average 74% of young writers had different kinds of mistakes (no running head or page numbers, incorrectly formatted abstract, lack of keywords, etc.). This statistics tells us that citation styles are a common problem for the majority of students. But it is possible to sort it out, and if you don’t want to be among those 74%, read further and follow our advice.

Formatting Styles in Writing

Brief Overview of MLA, APA, and CMS

These three types of formatting are the most widespread citation styles in the academic world. And of course, they all have their own specifications you have to take into account.

 ✏ Modern Language Association (MLA):

It is usually applied when you have to write academic papers within humanities (literature, linguistics, media studies, etc.) or liberal arts. The most reliable resource of formatting guidelines for this style is MLA Handbook of the 8th edition.

 ✏ American Psychological Association (APA):

It was originally developed to make writing more readable and understandable. Nowadays, it is commonly used for formatting behavioral and social sciences papers. The consulting guide for this citation style is Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association of the 6th edition and 2nd printing.

 ✏ Chicago Manual of Style (CMS):

This is the most popular formatting style in the USA within the publishing and editorial sector. The most exhaustive book with all the rules and guidelines is Chicago Manual of Style, the 17th edition.  

Now you know where each formatting is commonly used, so even if your professor doesn’t specify the citation style in your assignment, you can select it yourself concerning your course/discipline.

4 Tips to Upgrade Your Citation Styles Usage

Of course, there are typical mistakes that most of the students make or individual errors that depend on personal issues. In any case, it is possible to avoid them if you remember the main points of mastering citation styles.

#1 Make Short Lists of Rules for Each Formatting Type

Either create your own infographics, tables, graphs, or draw/write the main guidelines on a piece of paper. Obviously, you can find them already made online, but if you complete the task yourself, you’ll remember the rules better. What is more, you’ll formulate them in a clear and short manner suitable for your quick understanding.

#2 Consult with a Full Guide Every Time You Doubt

We’ve mentioned above the main manuals for APA, MLA and CMS styles, and it would be perfect if you had them on hand. Some can be available in a digital form, but in paperbacks, you can highlight the most important points and bookmark the most problematic places for yourself. And, in case you follow our first tip, it means that you’ll create a list of the major rules omitting the less essential ones. But it doesn’t mean that you won’t be faced with them while writing, so consulting with full guides is necessary.

#3 Pay Special Attention to Tricky Parts

The most common mistakes in applying citation styles include a title page and abstract formatting, headings, quotations, in-text citations, punctuation in bibliography and numbers. It implies that you need to keep a close eye on these parts while writing and editing.

#4 Determine Your Individual Errors

Have a look at your previous papers and single out the mistakes you made. Create another list that will include these errors and check with them every time you have a final proofreading session.

Use the Help of a Custom Writing Service

Order sample essays with correct formatting (which you can get even in 1 hour after ordering) and use them as model papers to properly apply a citation style in practice.

Use our tips to improve your academic writing and earn only good marks for your efforts!

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Author: Patricia Jenkins

Patricia Jenkins is the senior writing advisor at FastEssay blog for international students that seek quick paper assistance. In her blog, Patricia shares useful tips on productivity, writing, research, references. Sometimes Patricia goes off topic by sharing her personal experience peppered with lively humor and healthy irony.