Different Research Paper Styles and Writing Formats


  1. Citing Sources – General
  2. Citing Electronic Sources
  3. APA Style (American Psychological Association)
  4. MLA Style (Modern Language Association)
  5. CGOS Style – Columbia Guide to Online Style
  6. CBE Style -Council of Biology Editors
  7. Harvard Style
  8. Chicago Manual of Style / Turabian Style
  9. ASA Style
  10. AMA Style
  11. Resume Writing and Cover Letters
  12. Writing – Grammar Guides
  13. Writing – Research Guides
  14. Additional Sources

1. Citing Sources – General

Research, Writing, and Style GuidesAs a writer of academic papers, every student must document any source of information which they use in their research papers, articles, presentations and any kind of scientific project.
If you properly document the original works of other authors that you base your ideas on, it allows the readers to easily see and consult the resources used. Accurate and proper quoting will help avoid plagiarism, which is considered a serious breach of academic conduct. So if you want to create an original writing and need to use Turnitin for this, you can read how to beat Turnitin.

There are 3 methods of including other writer’s work into your paper. They are called citing or quoting, paraphrasing and summarizing.

Citation. The purpose of the citing/quoting is that it should repeat the original text word-for-word and include a reference to the original writer of the source document. When you have to incorporate another author’s ideas into your text, you should first decide which approach to use. You should use direct quotation when the exact wording of a passage is important so that you can be sure you have reproduced the original accurately. You might also use citations if the original statement is very well formulated and you feel it will enrich your writing.

Paraphrasing is basically a retelling of a passage of the original text using your own words and sentence structures. The author of the original must also be referenced. Paraphrasing is widely used in research papers and argumentative essays, showing your supervisors you understand a source text well and may reformulate it and find and emphasize its main points. It also helps change the stylistic characteristics of your source, adapting it to the readers (for example, if you use it for a presentation of some scientific topic before your class) and omitting unnecessary details.

Summarizing means reproducing only the most important ideas and main points of the source in your own words. It usually summarizes a larger statement in the form of a shorter explanation. However, the original source must be referenced, too. The purpose of a summary is a bit similar to that of a paraphrasing, but it helps to make a long text shorter, explaining a lengthy chapter, article or a book in a brief essay or even in a single paragraph.

List of Useful Resources on Citation and Writing:

Documentation Style Handouts in PDF – Writing Center at Armstrong Atlantic State University (AASU), Savannah, GA Annotated Bibliography, APA, Chicago-Turabian, and MLA Documentation, plus Grammar-Mechanics Handouts and Exercises, Regents’ Handouts, Writing Process Handouts, all available in PDF.

KnightCite: A Project of the Hekman Library – Calvin College, Grand Rapids, MI Free Citation Generator for MLA, APA and Chicago styles. Site created by Justin Searls, Student Intern, Teaching & Learning Digital Studio, Calvin Information Technology.

Slate: Citation Machine
An online tool that creates MLA and APA citations instantly. This web tool was created by David Warlick of The Landmark Project on October 29, 2000, and is part of the Landmarks for Schools website for teachers.

2. Citing Electronic Sources

Students often ask how to cite electronic primary sources. At present, people often access their sources using electronic means, because a large portion of information has become available in the electronic format. Using electronic or online sources is convenient, but you have to know how to cite them properly.

Due to the fact that different disciplines and fields of knowledge require different writing formats, no universal example for citing electronic sources can be provided. You should look for a particular style guideline used in your field (MLA, APA, Chicago Style, etc.). Each style guide addresses rules of citing electronic sources.

Citing Sources
Massachusetts Institute of Technology, APA Style, MLA Style, Chicago, Related Resources, Navigating EResearch.

How to Cite Electronic Sources
The Learning Page, Library of Congress, Washington, DC. MLA and Turabian citation examples for Films, Legal Documents and Government Publications, Maps, Photographs, Recorded Sound, Special Presentations, and Texts. Includes links to Citation Guidelines.

3. APA Style (American Psychological Association)

Using a particular writing style can simplify the editors’ work because every author adheres to the same format, as well as it makes it easier for the audience to follow the author’s ideas because they are organized according to a familiar structure. Demonstrating that you know and follow the style requirements of your field will also make your work more credible and trusted.

APA Style is often used for citation and formatting in social sciences (Psychology, Sociology, Linguistics, Economics, Criminology, as well as the areas of Business and Nursing). It also deals with the overall writing style, content organization and preparation of a paper for publication, if needed.

Thus, we recommend having a look at their manual as well as other online sources.

Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association – Get a quick orientation to APA, Create APA parenthetical citations, Create an APA reference list, Format a paper using APA guidelines, Format APA headings for a paper, Review APA usage and style guidelines, and Locate other APA resources on the Web.

APA Style Guide 6th Edition – USM Libraries, University of Southern Mississippi, Hattiesburg, MS. Examples of APA citations for books, journals, other media, and electronic information.

The Basics of APA Style – From APA Online, American Psychological Association, Washington, DC. A useful tutorial following the 6th Edition of APA’s Publication Manual, 2009. There are also some useful FAQs.

Understanding Electronic Sources from American Psychological Association (APA) – Excerpted from the new 6th edition of the APA Publication Manual.

4. MLA Style (Modern Language Association)

MLA Style of citation and formatting is widely used in the field of Art, Liberal Arts, and Humanities.

Its approach is to give a writer a universal formatting tool which can be applied to various kinds of sources (citing different kinds of sources, like research papers, articles, essays, government publications, newspapers, manuscripts, maps, charts, spoken interviews, sound recordings, web sites, films and illustrations and more). With the development of the Internet, texts may be found online in any format, and new designs and presentation forms are invented. That is why MLA offers a writer a number of general principles finding them more important than a rigid set of rules for every particular source.

Again there are manuals you can use.

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Sixth Edition

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, 8th Edition – The Modern Language Association, the authority on research and writing, takes a fresh look at documenting sources.

Citing Film and Video in a slightly adapted version of MLA style with examples.

Citing TV and Radio – with examples by Gary Handman, Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA.

We have also prepared a number of articles on particular subjects available on AResearchGuide website for your convenience.

Guidelines on How to Write a Bibliography in MLA Style
Works Cited, References, Bibliography – What’s the Difference?
How to Write a Bibliography – Examples in MLA Style
How to Write Footnotes and Endnotes in MLA Style
First Footnotes and Endnotes – Examples in MLA Style
Parenthetical References – Examples in MLA Style
Footnotes in MLA Style – Sample Page
Endnotes in MLA Style – Sample Page
Parenthetical References in MLA Style – Sample Page
Works Cited in MLA Style – Sample Page
Quoting Passages Using MLA Style

MLA Online – University of Houston Libraries Examples show the correct format for citing online sources in Modern Language Association (MLA) style.

MLA Parenthetical Documentation – LEO: Literacy Education Online, St. Cloud State University, St. Cloud, MN. How to correctly document different types of sources using MLA Parenthetical Documentation: Author(s) name, Multivolume works, Classic literary works, Special cases.

Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Format The Purdue University Online Writing Lab, West Lafayette, IN. Using APA format, Formatting in Sociology, Handling quotations in text, Works Cited list, Footnotes, and Endnotes, Paper format.

5. CGOS Style – Columbia Guide to Online Style

A specialized style guide for citing and creating electronic sources. It is al manual that addresses the complications and peculiarities associated with online publishing and offers the rules of online citation to students, researchers and the wide public.

The Columbia Guide to Online Style by Janice Walker, Todd Taylor

6. CBE Style – Council of Biology Editors

Used mostly to write research papers and cite sources within the Biology domain. Such works must always adhere to the requirements of Scientific Style and Format, following the rules of Scientific Writing.

CBE Documentation

Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI. Use the citation-sequence system, Create a CBE citation-sequence reference list, Use the name-year system, and Create a CBE name-year reference list.

Citing Online Media Resources (web sites, online media files, etc.)
Adapted from the Columbia Guide to Online Style, by Janice R. Walker and Todd Taylor. Citation styles described are Humanities Style. With examples by Gary Handman, Media Resources Center, Library, University of California, Berkeley, CA.

7. Harvard Style

Harvard Style of citation in quite similar to APA Style in terms of use. It is used mostly in the humanities field. While APA is common for the USA, Harvard Style is popular in the UK and Australia.

The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation, aka “Harvard Citator” published by Harvard Law Review Association in conjunction with Columbia Law Review, University of Pennsylvania Law Review, and Yale Law Journal 2019 edition

Interactive Citation Workbook for The Bluebook: A Uniform System of Citation and ALWD Citation Manual by Tracy L. McGaugh (Book)

Reference Styles & Essay Writing Guide King’s College, London. Essay Writing, Locating Information – Effective Reading, Selecting Information – Note Taking, Bibliographies, Examples of Bibliographic Entries, Points to Remember, and Textual References or Citations (including Parenthetical Reference examples).

8. Chicago Manual of Style / Turabian Style

Chicago Style and Turabian Style are also similar. They are designed to be used first of all in history and economics. Turabian Style is basically a modification of the Chicago Style for the needs of students. It is used in history, literature, and arts. There is also a style used in the scientific field, in natural and social sciences. Turabian Style guide includes the notes and bibliography style and the author-date style.

The recent edition of Kate L. Turabian A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations is aligned with the newest Chicago Manual of Style to match its requirements.

The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th ed. This edition has been prepared with an eye toward how we find, create, and cite information that readers are as likely to access from their pockets as from a bookshelf. It offers updated guidelines on electronic workflows and publication formats, tools for PDF annotation and citation management, web accessibility standards, and effective use of metadata, abstracts, and keywords.

Chicago Manual of Style Citation Guide From the Chicago Manual of Style Online. Provides examples on writing footnotes, in-text citations, reference list entries and bibliographical citations for both print and electronic sources using Chicago Style.

Chicago/Turabian Documentation – Writing Center, University of Wisconsin-Madison, Madison, WI. Get a quick orientation to note systems, Create Chicago/Turabian first references, Create Chicago/Turabian subsequent references, and Create a Chicago/Turabian Works Cited page.

9. ASA Style

AMA was first introduced in the AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors and is the cornerstone of writing style for the American Medical Association. The manual lays the foundation for writing and citation styles used by the medical and research communities. The most recent edition was updated and includes additions such as correct citation of online blogs, quizzes and regular tips from the editors.

AMA Manual of Style: A Guide for Authors and Editors 11th Edition
This book is a must-have resource for anyone involved in medical, health, and scientific publishing. It was written by an expert committee of JAMA editors and addresses issues that authors, editors, and publishers face in the digital age.

AMA Style – OWL – Purdue University
This resource discusses references page formatting for AMA style sheet, includes templates and examples.

AMA Manual of Style Citation Guide by Library of Ohio State University.

AMA Citation Style Quick Guide is provided by St. Catherine University Libraries. This handout serves as a quick reference to using the American Medical Association style for citing common information sources.

10. AMA Style

American Sociological Association (ASA) is most often found in works created by those who study or work in the field of Sociology. ASA writing format was created for those who author manuscripts to be published in ASA journals. Similar to other styles of citation, ASA format citation changes depending on the originating source material.

American Sociological Association Style Guide 2019 The sixth edition of the ASA Style Guide is the authoritative reference for writing, submitting, editing, and copyediting manuscripts for ASA journals and other publications following ASA’s unique format.

Quick Tips for ASA Style by American Sociological AssociationThis source is provided to assist students in studying sociology and in properly citing and referencing their essays.

ASA Style and Format – American Sociological Association Style and Format Guide.

11. Resumé Writing and Cover Letters

Preparing a good resume and cover letter is important for anyone seeking a job because if these documents are well-written, they help to create a good impression and get the desired position. A job applicant should be careful about the content and form of their CV and cover letter. They should use a particular wording and follow a specific structure and formatting requirements.

An efficient resume means a properly written one demonstrating your expertise and credentials and shall help you get an interview from a company. While a resume highlights your experience and skills, a good cover letter is intended to demonstrate how your knowledge and experience match the position you are currently applying for, therefore it has to be specific and targeted.

The provided information, structure, language, tone and other details of a CV and cover letter should be carefully chosen to help you reach your goal. You might make use of the efficient resume samples and templates found below.

Developing Resumes: Selecting a Resume Style from TTG Consultants.
How to Write Resume in English from About.com – English as 2nd Language (ESL).
How to Write a Resume.org. Resume Writing Tips, Resume Writing & Distribution Services.
ASCII Resumes: How to Create a Plain-Text Version of Your Resume from About.com – Career Planning.
The Resume as a Sales Tool from TTG Consultants.
Resume Writing Guide from Susan Ireland Resumes.
Resumes and Letters: Sample Resumes from Monster Career Center.
Cover Letter Guide from Susan Ireland Resumes.
Writing Cover Letters: Sample Cover Letters from Monster Career Center.

12. Writing – Grammar Guides

When writing on any assignment, it is critical to avoid grammar, stylistic, spelling and other kinds of mistakes and write properly and accurately. A text full of errors will create a poor impression, no matter how important and profound are the ideas it provides.

It is wise to start improving your style by consulting the classic book by William Strunk first.

The Elements of Style Fourth Edition by William Strunk, Jr. This classic book by William Strunk, Jr. on the Elements of Style includes: Elementary Rules of Usage, Elementary Principles of Composition, Words & Expressions Commonly Misused, An Approach to Style with a List of Reminders: Place yourself in the background, Revise and rewrite, Avoid fancy words, Be clear, Do not inject opinion, Do not take shortcuts at the cost of clarity, and much more.

Common Errors in English Usage: Third Edition by Paul Brians. Mixed-up, mangled expressions; foreign-language faux pas; confused and confusing terms; commonly mispronounced words – they’re all explained in this useful guide.
Common Errors in English By Dr. Paul Brians, Professor of English, Washington State University, Pullman, WA. Based on Common Errors in English Usage

The Grammar Zone provides information about adjectives and adverbs, articles, comparatives and superlatives, clauses, conditionals, confusing words, nouns, numbers, prepositions and conjunctions, pronouns, and questions. The site includes Verbs, Idioms, Paragraph Writing, and more.

Online English Grammar By Anthony Hughes Free but copyrighted material. Sound files to learn to pronounce the alphabet. Table of contents. Alphabetical subject index. Grammar clinic. English language practice pages.

13. Writing – Research Guides

When it comes to writing and learning how to do a research paper, there are no quick fixes or fill-in-the-blank templates that will allow you to complete your paper without investing a little time and effort. The key to any research style is learning how to effectively manage your time and organize your source material. In the proceeding paragraphs, you will find helpful information on how to write a good research paper. If you are looking for more detailed guidelines on writing a research paper, be sure to consult the books and manuals recommended further down in the article.

  • Do not procrastinate

The key to any successful research paper is remembering to start as early as possible. If you are told early in the semester that you will have a research essay due eventually – don’t wait until the last possible moment to start. Take advantage of every day that you have available to you to pick your topic (if one is not assigned), carry out your research and develop your research paper outline. If you are not sure how to start a research paper, ask for guidance or research ideas online. Remember, if you decide to wait until the paper is due to get started, you might have difficulty finding research material or you may find that other students have already picked your preferred topic. Not to mention the fact that a looming deadline, and a lack of finished paper, will ultimately result in unneeded stress.

  • Choose an interesting topic

Next, you should select your topic – unless one has been provided by the teacher. The best course of action is to select a topic that interests you, even if it seems complex or difficult. By choosing to work with a topic you have even a small interest in, you are more likely to continue to be motivated to delve deeper into your research and will be able to engage more with your readers. That is something difficult to do when the subject matter is dry or mediocre. It will help add genuine value to your paper. Your readers may often feel if the topic was interesting to you. If it was, that may make the readers more interested and expecting to find something valuable in your paper and thus continue reading. Keep in mind that there will be times when you will be assigned topics that are unfamiliar to you. In these types of situations, it is helpful to read up on the topic. Journals, encyclopedias, guidebooks, and libraries are all excellent resources to find background material on just about every topic out there.

  • Do preliminary research

One of the most important things when learning how to write a paper is learning how to research for the paper you are writing. Despite the widespread access to information, largely attributed to easy accessibility of the Internet, there are just as many non-credible sources as there are credible. The trick is learning how to differentiate between the two. One such way is to choose to use only verified sources like trade publications, scholarly articles, journals or books from the local library.

  • Create an outline

After you have concluded and organized your research, it’s time to create an outline and style research paper. The best way to start your outline is to draft your thesis statement. More often, the thesis is a single sentence opener – and the most important part of the entire paper. The thesis should present the main idea of your paper. It lays the groundwork for everything that follows and presents your argument to the reader. You should ensure that it’s clear, concise and to the point. Next, you’ll group your research notes into sections the correlate with the various aspects of your topic or argument. You might rearrange these several times until you find a format that seems the most logical.

  • Prepare a draft

After you’ve concluded your outline for your research paper, you begin to actually write your paper. The first draft is simply an opportunity to get your ideas out there so don’t take too much time worrying about grammar or syntax – just focus on getting the words on the paper. You will proofread, edit and rewrite later. Right now, your only concern is ensuring that you have found the most logical progression for your argument and the corresponding supporting material. Once you’ve finished your rough draft, read it over to ensure it reads as you would like it to. If you are satisfied, begin to correct any grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors you find and add text as needed. It might be helpful, at this stage, to have someone else read your paper just to give it a fresh perspective.

  • Edit, proofread and format

If you are satisfied, open your word processor to a blank page and type up your final version. You will want to be mindful of any specific spacing or formatting rules in the assignment details and make certain that you are also creating any supplementary pages that might be necessary. For example, a cover page. Even if it has not been specifically requested to use different formats of writing, it is in good practice to always include a Works Cited or Reference page. This is where you will list every source that you’ve used in your research or cited in your paper, in order to not only credit the originating author but also to satisfy anti-plagiarism policies and guidelines. This is the point where it is better to be safe than sorry.


To write a research paper successfully, the first thing you need is to know about the formal requirements and the general approach to academic writing. It is recommended to make your statement specific, definitive and clear, avoid using unnecessary informal elements. Writing a research paper might be tricky, so there is an extensive list of tips and instructions to follow.

Guide on How to Write University Essays, Courseworks, Assignments and Dissertations by Verena Vaneeva.
Contents include: How to write an Essay, Coursework or Report, Marketing or Marketing Communications Campaign, Dissertation, How to define Issue or Argument, Research Methods, Dissertation Structure.

How to Write an A+ Research Paper
Step by step guide on how to write an excellent research paper quickly and successfully.

Online Writing Lab
Purdue University, West Lafayette, IN. Tutorial Center for Writers. Online Writing Labs (OWLs), Internet Search Tools, Resources for Writers and Teachers, Purdue Resources, Links to other WWW writing resources.

All Subject Guides
University of Minnesota Libraries, St. Paul/Minneapolis, MN. Learn How to Use the Library: Starting Your Research, Designing a Research Strategy, Find Books, Articles, Web Sites, Facts, Reviews, and More, Evaluating and Citing Sources, and Searching the MLA International Bibliography. Includes an Instructor’s Manual for QuickStudy.

The St. Martin’s Guide to Writing 12th or 2018 edition by Rise B. Axelrod, Charles R. Cooper

A Student’s Guide to Research Saint Louis University, MO. Tutorial guide to conducting research on the WWW for first-year college students. Anatomy of a Web page. Evaluating Web sources. Web page types. Web search strategies. Citing online sources. Glossary.

The Writers’ Workshop Department of English, Northern Illinois University. Students’ Resources include Editor’s Grammar and Mechanics, Quoting and Quotations, Citing Sources: The MLA Way, and Plagiarism: A MUST read. See also Tutors’ Resources, Instructors’ Resources, and Visitors’ Resources.