There are several accepted formats for essays and research papers used by university students and professional academic writers, and each has been developed to meet the needs of academic writers in particular fields of study and research, e.g., the social sciences, humanities, or science and engineering (STEM) fields. The styles are named after the organizations which have developed and maintain the standard formats (see the list of styles used by FAE instructors/courses below).
A very important aspect of each style is the format used to present information about the published sources and evidence used in the paper, which might include quotations/citations of another author’s words or summary-paraphrase of their ideas and evidence. The format for referring to sources in this way will usually include a reference list or bibliography at the end of a document (end-text referencing) and a shorthand or footnoted way to refer to that list at the relevant points in the flow of the writing (in-text referencing). The styles may also include editorial manuals that specify the format of other parts of the paper, such as page layout, number formats, and even tone/register.
Your FAE instructor will let you know which of the academic styles to use in your essays and papers. The resources below will help you to learn more about these styles. Always check your own instructor’s task requirements carefully, however, for the details of how to apply the required style.
Although individual access to the official handbooks for the styles is generally via a paid service, you can often find helpful resources and learning aids on the official homepage of each style. The Purdue University Online Writing Lab (OWL) provides one of the best-maintained and most student-friendly guides to all the major citation and referencing styles (see the links below), and includes sample papers in each format.
Citation and Referencing Styles
APA (American Psychological Association)
The APA style for social sciences uses concise parenthetical in-text references (AKA, “Harvard”/”Turabian” format) that include the author-surname(s) and year of publication and an end-text reference list in alphabetical order.
- Purdue OWL APA guide: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_style_introduction.html
- APA website – tutorials and webinars: https://apastyle.apa.org/instructional-aids/tutorials-webinars
MLA (Modern Language Association)
The MLA style for social sciences uses concise in-sentence and parenthetical in-text references that include the author-surname(s) and an end-text works cited list in alphabetical order.
- Purdue OWL MLA guide: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_formatting_and_style_guide.html
- MLA website – sample papers: https://style.mla.org/sample-papers/
Chicago Manual of Style (CMoS/Chicago)
The Chicago style comes in two different types:
- a “notes and bibliography” style for humanities papers using detailed in-text footnote references which can be abbreviated after the first mention of the source and a detailed end-text bibliography
- an “author-date” style (AKA, “Harvard”/”Turabian” format) for social sciences with concise parenthetical in-text references including the author surname(s) and date of publication and a reference list in alphabetical order.
- Purdue OWL Chicago guide: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/cmos_formatting_and_style_guide/chicago_manual_of_style_17th_edition.html
- Chicago website – a very useful “quick guide” to both the “notes & bibliography” and “author-date” styles: https://www.chicagomanualofstyle.org/tools_citationguide.html
IEEE (Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers)
The IEEE style for STEM subjects uses parenthetical in-text references that include the number of the source in order of appearance/use in the text and an end-text reference list in the same order.
- Purdue OWL IEEE guide: https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/ieee_style/ieee_overview.html
- IEEE website – a very complete detailed guide for editors and authors of IEEE-style papers: https://ieeeauthorcenter.ieee.org/wp-content/uploads/IEEE-Reference-Guide.pdf
- IEEE website – a guide to the IEEE referencing style only: http://journals.ieeeauthorcenter.ieee.org/wp-content/uploads/sites/7/IEEE-Reference-Guide-Online-v.04-20-2021.pdf
- A short sample paper in IEE page and referencing format – hosted by Amity University: https://amity.edu/aiit/aicai2019/files/ieee-format.pdf