Dr Abel Scribe PhD

Style Guides for Research Papers

The Chicago Manual of Style runs to 1026 pages! It's a heavy tome in more ways than one, weighing in at 3 pounds 5 ounces (1.51 kg). Even the short version, A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations: Chicago Style for Students and Researchers by Kate Turabian, is still 448 pages (1 lb 6 oz, 0.63 kg). Yet many research journals manage to provide their "Instructions for Authors" in just a couple of pages, albeit, with very fine print.

Doc Scribe's style sheets range from 12 to 25 pages, long enough to provide considerable detail, short enough for the writer in a hurry to match the style so as not to offend knowledgeable readers. The current goal is to reduce the PDF version of these style sheets to 12 pages, a gaol achieved with the APA, Chicago, and MLA versions.

Doc Scribe Final Manuscripts? The APA Publication Manual once drew a distinction between "copy manuscripts" and "final manuscripts." Copy manuscripts are what you submit for review and publication, intended to meet the needs of copy editors and typesetters. Tables and figures are placed on separate pages after the text, everything is double spaced. Final manuscripts are intended to be read, presented at conferences and seminars. Tables and figures are embedded in the text, line spacing and fonts are adjusted to improve readability. Doc's guides lean toward the latter.


AMA Manual of Style 10th ed. Babel Reigns! Every medical journal seems determined to use their own unique style. The National Library of Medicine keeps track of about 7,000 of them, though many times that number are published. This presents a daunting task for the writer. What is an acceptable style? Doc offers two answers: AMA (American Medical Association) based on their hefty style manual and "Instructions for Authors" found in JAMA, as well as ICMJE (International Committee of Medical Journal Editors) style. A growing numbers of journals accept papers for review and publication in ICMJE style, transcribing them into their own cherished format. Not quite a breakthrough, but better than Babel.

Doc's guides date from 2009-2010. They are scheduled for revision in 2018. The AMA manual appears to be on a ten-year publication cycle, we're waiting . . . .


APA Publication Manual Copy Manuscripts Only! The APA Publication Manual is focused on only one thing, preparing manuscripts for review and publication. That's why they call it a publication manual, a manual geared to guiding writers in preparing copy manuscripts. The style is used by over a thousand journals, making it the world's most popular research style.

Many colleges and universities have adopted the style as well. This makes it hard on students. Copy manuscripts place tables and figures on separate pages at the end of the paper, not where they are mentioned in the text. There are two title pages, one with the author's name to be torn off for anonymous review. All this is not useful for a conference paper or class assignment. Doc's guide adapts the style for these final manuscripts.

The APA Publication Manual was last updated in 2009. Doc's guide was edited and revised in 2017.


ASA Style Guide 3rd ed. The American Sociological Association publishes a compact style guide (124 pages) that is actually an extensive "Instructions for Authors" geared to preparing manuscripts for publication. As with APA style, the guide has been adapted to better meet the needs of college and conference papers. The ASA guide dates from 2007 and misses such things as the now widespread use of Digital Object Identifiers (DOI). Other features are a bit quaint as well. The style relies heavily on the Chicago Manual of Style and its author-date system of documentation, which it refers to as the "RL style" (Reference List style) from a distant edition of the CMS.

The ASA style guides are from a previous generation here at www.docstyles.com (2010), awaiting revision and the next edition of the ASA guide, or perhaps a more generic adaptation of the Turabian author-date system to the ASA style guides which might have broader application.


Turabian Manual Chicago Style for Students & Researchers reads the subtitle for this manual (some think "Turabian" is a separate style). Chicago style today is mostly followed in for its endnotes and footnotes. Bibliographies often accompany the notes, so those are featured side by side in the Chicago and Turabian manuals. Chicago style also features a "parenthetical" or author-date reference style, though the universe of potential applications is dominated by the APA Publication Manual. The later is a quintessential reference text that has omitted needless words, topics, and chapters. It is nearly 200 pages short of Turabian manual, 750 pages short of the venerable CMoS.

The endnote/footnote and bibliography styles for references are featured in Doc's guide, the author-date system is not covered. The guide was revised in Fall 2017, updated to the current Turabian manual (2013) and Chicago Manual of Style (2010).


MLA Handbook MLA Handbook? The 2016 version (8th ed.) is no longer a handbook for "Writers of Research Papers." It is just the MLA Handbook (period). The editors argue, "today academic work can take many forms other than the research paper" so a handbook for research papers is too limiting. The style also insists on references to unrecoverable sources (letters, emails, missing web pages), unacceptable in serious scholarship. The "container" system for references is too tedious to be useful, other changes do not add clarity.

Students are referred to sample papers from the MLA's website (links provided) to use as a model to apply 2016 MLA style. Doc's MLA Basic (2017) is based on the previous handbook (7th ed.,2009). It also offers guidance on things not changed—abbreviations, capitalization, numbers—to complement the sample papers.


Copyright Notice © Copyright 2009-2017 by Dr Abel Scribe PhD. You are welcome to print, link, or distribute the guides on this site for not-for-profit educational purposes. No additional permission is required. The guides offer directions for preparing papers for classes and conferences, final manuscripts. These differ from copy manuscripts featured in some style manuals and journal "Instructions to Authors." Guides are revised on an irregular basis; may have errors; use at your own risk.