Style Guides

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Style Guides

Style guides are a means of formatting writing according to discipline.  While psychology, sociology, communication, and behavioral science fields often follow APA format, English and foreign language classes often format papers using the MLA (Modern Language Associaion) style guide.  Legal writing often follows the format of the Blue Book, and political science research is often written using APSA, the writing style of the American Political Science Association.  Anthropology and historical writing sometimes uses the CMS (Chicago Manual of Style).  The above are simply general rules.  If you are a student, be sure to write in the format that your professor recommends for your assignments.  The formats have different cover pages, different versions of title headings and organization, different means of citing information, and they stress different aspects of writing.  Writing format can dictate the style of a paper.  Look below for some popular and helpful links that Cal. U. students use for acamemic writing.


Style Guides

APA (American Psychological Association)

American Psychological Association

While the American Psychological Association does “urge you to buy the APA Style Guide,”  its website provides a perfect tutorial for first-time users of APA style. The tutorial describes organization of a paper, title headings, and even word choice to reduce bias and increase specificity.

The Purdue University Writing Lab

This valuable resource explains the purpose of the various sections of an APA paper, describes format, and citations.  It is an ideal resource for people who have never used APA style before.

Indiana Weslian University

This check-list ensures that APA style is used after a paper is completed.  Writers could use this check-list after a draft to evaluate their APA compliance.

Cornell University Library

Cornell University Library gives examples of in- and out-of text citations in APA and explains their function, as well.  Their page is very lengthy and detailed and can answer any particular questions you may have about specific sources. explains several elements of APA

University of Illinois at Urbana-Champiagn

This resource fully explains many aspects of APA.  Rather than focusing on citations, it explains the multiple parts of a paper and how they should be created.  The website also displays a picture showing how to use Microsoft Word to create APA style.

This page is great for finding out how to cite different sources.  Types of resources are organized neatly so that writers can easily learn how to document resources.

Long Island University

This library website mainly  discusses source documentation.  It offers some unique example citations, such as streaming video, Education Resources Information Center (ERIC) documents, encyclopedias, dissertations, and industry reports.

Harvard University

Harvard’s APA tutorial explains many of the deeper aspects of APA, such as when it is appropriate to use a block quotation.It also explains citation of lectures.

University of Southern Missippi

If you are looking to test your knowledge about APA style, this website is ideal.  It offers a basic test, a citation quiz, and a quiz on formatting.

While this website does not generate citations for you as other easybib links may, it does explain citations for many sources, inclucing sheet music, podcasts, tweets, blogs, conference paper, and interviews, as well as common sources, like journal articles and newspapers.

California State University Library, Stanislaus

Writing about the law may require APA citation of court decisions, cases, and federal and state statutes.  This library PDF gives examples of all of the aforementioned citations.

APSA (American Political Science Association)

Tamiu University College Writing Center

This document provides information about proper spacing of margins, page numbers, and title page format.  It also discusses both in- and out-of-text citations, giving examples for common sources as well as statutes, laws, and court cases.

Trinity College Library

Trinity College Library allows writers to cite a variety of sources, including Podcasts, interactive maps, CDs, DVDs, and more.  Even personal communication can be cited in the form of an interview or a lecture.

Meriam Library of California State University at Chico

Instead of simply providing examples, this PDF lists rules for the format of references.  It also provides example references for standard sources as well as documents from private organizations and government documents.  

Texas A&M University Library

Citing common sources, like scholarly articles, books, and electronic sources, is made easy with these formats for in- and out-of-text citations.

University of North Texas

This website is a great source for in-text citations and provides many examples of how and when these citations should be used in APSA style. Like other websites in the list, it also displays a variety of examples of out-of-text citations, including websites.

St. Mary’s University

St. Mary’s Blume Library & Learning Assistance Center provides an excellent resource for citing electronic sources, such as email and databases.  Its page includes many sources that are missing from basic reference lists.

Blue Book

Suffolk University of Boston 

This cite provides a summary of the Blue Book of Legal Citation and provides an all-encompassing demonstration its use.  It discusses types of citations and answers frequently asked questions.  Citations for newspapers, films, student works, tax materials, and more can be found on their website under “advanced/other areas.”

Cuny School of Law

Hailing from a reputable law school, this page elaborates on Blue Book citations in such a way that their meanings can be easily understood by the writers who use them.  Writing decisions, such as when and how to use authority, are also discussed.  This resource delves deep into the meaning of legal citation.

Cornell Law School

Unlike APA and MLA styles, Blue Book is speifically used for advanced legal writing and does not dictate how writers shape or organize their ideas.  Blue Book’s focus seems to be citations, and this website’s video links explain multiple forms of legal citation perfectly.

Georgetown University Law Center

Although this documentation guide was prepared for the students of Georgetown University, it is the public property of the internet and can be very helpful in citations of books, periodicals, statutes, court decisions, and even online resources.

While downloading additional resources offered by this website may have hidden costs, this link leads to a free example of Blue Book format that does not require download.  Multiple pages of exemplary writing establishes correct use of citations, abbreviations, and style within the text.


Ronald B. Standler

This webpage can be categorized into two halves; its first half explains the regions and reporters for courts of various states, and its second half discusses citations in many forms. Information, such as “misleading court names,” that may be helpful yet hard to come by is easily found in the first half of this webpage.

New England School of Law

This page provides insight into both footnotes and citations in Blue Book style. Its “Quick Tips” section, which is located at the top of the page, relays helpful hints to find the information necessary for citations.

New England School of Law - Boston

This link leads to a website that provides a step-by-step breakdown to citing a witness deposition.  Witness deposition refers to a witness’ testimony that is made under oath outside of the courtroom, which is important to the preceding court process of discovery.

Penn State University

Being a universal documentation reference, the Blue Book abbreviates several titles that are likely important to legal writing.  This webpage provides a table of those abbreviations, including admission, attorney, certiorari, discovery, and more.

Gallager Law Library at the University of Wisconsin

The Blue Book abbreviates the names of many legal journals and periodicals.  This website from Gallager Law Library of the University of Wisconsin has alphabetized and documented the extremely numerous abbreviations that Blue Book uses, which may be helpful in writing with or understanding that particular style of documentation.

CMS (Chicago Manual of Style)

Trinity College Library

Trinity College Library provides an all-encompassing directory of media, explaining how information can be found in each medium and how to write first notes, subsequent notes, and citations.  This source is specific enough to mention art work, House of Representative floor debates, and maps.

Chicago Manual of Style

The Chicago Manual of Style’s website provides example notes and citations for many varieties of books, articles, and websites.  Its straightforward nature makes it easy to use.

Purdue University OWL (Online Writing Lab)

Purdue University's Writing Lab gives directions concerning notes, bibliographies, and even Chicago format for different media, such as Powerpoint and visual aids.  This link leads to Chicago format’s main page, but the page list on the left offers more specific resources.

University of Wisconsin at Madison

This PDF by the University of Wisconsin in Madison tells writers when documentation is necessary. It also tells writers how to provide notes and citations for their readers.

Williams College Libraries offers its summary of the Chicago Manual of Style, including many instructions and examples.

MLA (Modern Language Association)

Hunter College Reading/Writing Center

This link will lead you to a tutorial about MLA.  If you are going to be working with MLA style often, it is a great resource to use because it offers a large amount of information as well as practice games that sharpen your MLA skills.  This page can explain the difference between plagiarizing, paraphrasing and quoting, which is especially important.

Seton Hill Univesity - Jerz Literacy Weblog

Although there are some advertisements in the side-bars, Seton Hill’s MLA website gives a comprehensive and awesome guide to everything except citations.  The literacy blog gives example images for headers, page formatting, block quotes, and more.  While this is a very easy to use resource for almost everything MLA, we recommend that you create your own citations using one of the other resources on this list.

Western Oregon University

If you can access PDFs, this is the perfect resource.  Examples of papers in MLA include pointers about page formatting, and other information is given in a typical website format.  

The Purdue University OWL (Online Writing Lab)

This direct link will teach you how to use MLA to format the body of your essay.

This site has different tabs in the right-hand side bar if you have questions about specific information, such as in-text or out-of-text citations.  

The University of Illinois at  Urbana-Chamgpaign Writers’ Workshop

This Center for Writing Students page explains just about any citation you may need in MLA style. All resources are organized by medium and are very easy to find.

Cornell University Library

Specializing in in- and out-of-text citations, Cornell University can provide help with works cited pages.  This page explains how to cite audio, visual, online, and print sources.

The University of Madison Writing Center

Another reference-heavy MLA style guide, this page gives example citations for several varieties of books, journal articles, online sources, and more.

Valencia College Library

This college provides an easy to read, color coded guide to citing online sources, including powerpoint presentations, books viewed online, blogs, and even youtube videos.

Modern Language Association

While the MLA handbook cannot be viewed freely, the Modern Language Association does answer some interesting frequently asked questions, including tweet and e-book citation, newspaper sub-page citation, and software issues.

University of Southern Mississippi

How much do you know about MLA style? This quiz will tell you.  While your email address is required to receive your scores, they do not spam.  This site provides a lively way to learn MLA!