Guidelines for Writing Research Papers in the MLA and APA Styles

Depending upon the discipline for which one is writing research papers, information or ideas borrowed from outside texts and resources must be cited using a specialized method of documentation. Most of the humanities, especially literature and English, typically adopt the Modern Language Association Style (more commonly known as MLA Style). On the other hand, the social sciences, especially psychology and education, use the American Psychological Association Style (more commonly known as APA Style). In addition to MLA & APA, there are several other styles, including Chicago Style, used by some mentors in the fields of history and business; AMA, used in medicine, health and biological sciences; and Turabian, designed for college students to use with all subjects. Presently, the SUNY Empire State College web site provides guidelines only for MLA Style and APA Style but anticipates one day offering guidelines for the other less frequently used documentation methods.

This page introduces students to the two most commonly used research documentation styles by offering examples of some more frequently observed citation methods, including those for in-text citations, the works cited or reference pages, and electronic resources. For a comprehensive listing of such methods, one can refer to the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers or the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association. Remember, it is always best to consult with your mentor to learn which documentation style he or she prefers you use for a given assignment.