Choosing a Style Guide

Being able to write according to a certain style is like knowing the secret handshake that gets you into a club—in and of itself, it's not much, but it can convince others to pay attention to what you have to say where they otherwise might not. This semester, I'd like you to learn the secret handshake of your chosen major or profession, so choose carefully from the options below and purchase the book that best fits your life goals.

If you'd like to choose a style not on this list, or recommend a new addition to this list, just contact me, explaining your choice and why you think I should approve it.

You'll need to make a choice and purchase your book by Friday, May 3, when the Textbooks Choice assignment is due.

MLA Style

cover of MLA Handbook

Who it is for: MLA stands for "Modern Language Association," a professional group that represents much of the humanities. Therefore, if your major falls within the humanities—that is, the arts, music, literature, or language—this might be the style for you.

What to buy: MLA Handbook, 8th edition

Where to buy it: The MLA Style Center website has lots of useful resources and links to buy the book in paperback or as an ebook. You can also find it on Amazon.

APA Style

cover of APA Manual

Who it is for: APA stands for "American Psychological Association," so if you're in psychology, this is the one for you. But wait! The other social sciences—anthropology, sociology, and others—often use APA style too, as well as many other fields including education, business, nursing, technical communication, and more. If you're in one of these fields, ask a professor in your major if APA is right for you.

What to buy: Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, 6th edition

Where to buy it: The APA Style website has lots of useful resources and links to buy the book. You can also find it on Amazon.

Turabian Style

cover of Turabian Manual

Who it is for: Turabian style was designed specifically for undergraduate and graduate students, so while it doesn't appeal to a specific field (though history and political science students are often assigned it), it works for all of them. Even better, Turabian gives you options, allowing for either in-text citations or footnotes/endnotes, whichever you prefer.

What to buy: A Manual for Writers of Research Papers, Theses, and Dissertations, 9th edition

Where to buy it: The University of Chicago Press website has a site about Turabian and links to buy the book or ebook. You can also find it on Amazon.

Chicago Style

cover of Chicago Manual

Who it is for: Chicago style remains the standard for the academic and professional publishing worlds and is the basis for most in-house styles used by publishers large and small (including the LDS Church). Like Turabian (which is modeled on Chicago), Chicago allows for both in-text citations or footnotes/endnotes, giving you maximum agency in how you use it.

What to buy: The Chicago Manual of Style, 17th edition

Where to buy it: The Chicago Manual of Style Online website has lots of resources and offers subscriptions to the online version of the book (including a free trial). You can also find the book itself on Amazon.

CSE Style

cover of CSE Manual

Who it is for: CSE stands for "Council of Science Editors," a professional group associated with the physical sciences such as physics, biology, chemistry, and astronomy. Therefore, if your major involves one of these fields, this might be the book for you.

What to buy: Scientific Style and Format, 8th edition

Where to buy it: The Scientific Style and Format website has useful resources and offers a free trial to the online version of the book plus a link to buy the book. You can also find it on Amazon.

IEEE Style

IEEE logo

Who it is for: IEEE stands for "Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers," a professional group associated with electrical and computer engineering. Therefore, if your major involves one of these fields, this might be the style for you.

What to buy: There's no book to buy. Instead, IEEE provides PDFs on their website of the style guide.

Where to buy it: Wikipedia has a list of links to the major PDFs you would want, and you can also search the IEEE website for additional info.

Others

There are literally dozens of other style guides out there for other fields, so let me repeat the best advice: talk to someone in the field you hope to enter (i.e., a major professor) and see what advice he or she can give you. For a partial list of additional style guides, see this Wikipedia list.