When editors or teachers ask you to write in APA Style, they are referring to the
editorial style that many of the social and behavioral sciences have adopted to
present written material in the field. APA Style was first developed 80 years
ago by a group of social scientists who wished to establish sound standards of
communication. Since that time, it has been adopted by leaders in many fields
and has been used by writers around the world.
The best scientific writing is spare and straightforward. To achieve this clarity of
communication, publishers have developed rules of style. These rules are
designed to ensure clear and consistent presentation of written material.
Editorial style concerns uniform use of such elements as
punctuation and abbreviations
construction of tables
selection of headings
citation of references, and
presentation of statistics
APA's style rules and
guidelines are set out in a reference book called The Publication Manual of
the American Psychological Association.
All fields of research agree on the need to document
scholarly borrowings, but documentation conventions vary because of the
different needs of scholarly disciplines. MLA style for documentation is widely
used in the humanities, especially in writing on language and literature.
Generally simpler and more concise than other styles, MLA style features brief
parenthetical citations in the text keyed to an alphabetical list of works
cited that appears at the end of the work.
Kate L. Turabian's "Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses and Dissertations" covers two documentation systems: notes-bibliography style (also called bibliography style) and author-date style (also called reference list style). These are basically the same as those described in the Chicago Manual of Style, with minor modifications to meet the needs of student writers. Bibliography style is used in the arts, history and literature. It gives bibliographic information in footnotes or endnotes and a bibliography. Author-date style is used in the natural, physical and social sciences. Sources are cited in parentheses within the text by the author's last name and date of publication . The citations are amplified with full bibliographic information in a reference list.