Documentation Formats

Documentation Formats
    Documentation formats are constructed to provide consistency in content and organization of the data that describes the sources of information used in research papers. As a result, documentation formats give writers models to follow to insure that readers can quickly find whatever publication information they need to validate and understand the source used in writing the paper.
Two of the most common documentation formats used in colleges and universities are the MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association).
The MLA citation format is used primarily, although not exclusively, in these disciplines:
  • humanities courses
  • art
  • literature
  • language
  • philosophy
  • theater
  • speech
 The APA citation format is used primarily, although not exclusively, in these disciplines:
  • social sciences
  • hard sciences
  • business
  • education
However, remember that professors or publishers may have a preference for either one or the other format despite the discipline being taught. Therefore, remember to ask the professor or publisher which format is used if you are not certain of the answer.
There are many other citation formats, among which is the Chicago Manual of Style, which uses superscript numbers that refer to footnotes or endnotes that contain the appropriate publishing information. For information on this format, check this website
Scientific Style and Format, or CBE, is often used in the natural and applied sciences. The structure for this style of formatting depends on the individual disciplines. The University of Wisconsin has a good website to consult on CBE style:
The best method of determining which style format to use is to consult your specific instructor or manuscript advisor to get her or his recommendation on what format style to use.