Answered By: Ken Fujiuchi
Last Updated: Jul 31, 2014     Views: 83

When your instructor asks you to "use APA style" or "use MLA style" they are usually referring to a specific documentation style that will standardize the way you give credit to the sources you have consulted or quoted in your paper.  Documentation style consists of rules and guidelines that ensure clarity and consistency when you cite references within the text of your paper and compile a reference list at the end of the paper.  Using a style guide helps you to avoid plagiarism.  It also provides all the necessary information about your sources so other people can locate them.


Documentation rules and guidelines are published in bibliographic style manuals or handbooks.  Although there are several manuals available, such as The Chicago Manual of Style and the ASA Manual of Style (American Sociological Association), the two styles used most frequently at Buffalo State are the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (Modern Language Association) and Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA).   The MLA style is primarily used in the humanities, especially in the fields of language and literature.  The APA style is primarily used in the social and behavioral sciences, such as psychology and sociology.


Style manuals include information on conducting research, the mechanics of writing, the format of the research paper, punctuation, grammar, and much more.  Butler Library has current copies of these manuals that you may consult-- also check out the library's citation style resources web page.