Watch a video tutorial to learn how to format your paper in Microsoft Word.
Style manuals provide specific instructions for writing and formatting papers and citations. If your instructor tells you to use a certain style, he or she will expect your paper to have a certain appearance (margins, font, heading, etc.) and to include accurate citations of sources. A citation is a brief description of a book, article, or other source that follows a specific format.
Two key reasons to follow a style guide are: (1) to ensure that you include the complete citation information needed for a reader to locate your sources; (2) to format consistently for clarity and professionalism.
Look for the required style in your syllabus or the assignment. If you cannot find it, ask your instructor. Common styles are MLA, APA, and Chicago (or CMS).
First, familiarize yourself with the general rules of the style. An easy way to do this is look at sample papers – you can find them in the print manuals in the library or via the "Citation resources" links on this page. How are pages and headings laid out? Are papers divided into sections? When are italics used? What about capitalization? Being aware of these conventions will help you when you start writing.
When working with outside sources, you will typically need to cite them in two places.
Citation styles vary somewhat according to the type of source you're citing. Be especially attentive when you are referring to a section of a larger work. For example, if you were using a short story or essay in an anthology or an entry in an encyclopedia, it would be cited differently than if you were using an entire book. Similarly, if you use only one page of a website, you should cite that page specifically. (For instance, you could cite the Distance Learning page as part of the JSCC website.) You may also be required to include the name of the database where you found an article.
Good citations contain all of the information required and follow the style guidelines for names, titles, word order, capitalization, and punctuation.
The "Citation resources" list on this page includes some reliable websites for using styles; for the complete and authoritative guidelines, consult the print handbooks available at the library reference desk. If you have any questions about expectations for a specific assignment, ask your instructor.
You may be able to find citations of your sources ready-made from:
However, keep in mind that these citations are machine-generated, not edited, and thus likely to contain errors. If you choose to use these citations, be sure to double-check them for accuracy and adherence to style guidelines.
All websites, articles, images, videos, etc., linked on this site are provided for informational purposes only. External content is not maintained by James Sprunt Community College, nor does it represent the views of the College or its employees. Please notify the library staff if you have concerns about linked content. Students are expected to evaluate all web and print resources and to determine their appropriate academic uses. A hyperlink to a resource or article from these LibGuides does not constitute an endorsement of that resource or article by the library.