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5 Types of Writing Formats

When looking at the different types of writing formats, it is important to remember that a format is different than a style. There are 4 writing styles: expository, descriptive, persuasive, and narrative. A writing format is not the pronoun voice that is being used either. It is the citation style that is being used within the structure of the writing.

What is a citation? It’s a way of giving credit to people who have offered their own creative or intellectual work for a writer to make their own key points. Not only does this prove that a writer has done their research, but it also helps to eliminate a common form of plagiarism that is in today’s writing efforts.

There are 5 major writing formats to be considered.

#1. APA

Initially created in 1929, APA style was created by the American Psychological Association. It offers three kinds of information to be included within the text body of a composition. The last name of the author, the date of publication, and if necessary, the page where the information was found are all placed within parenthesis after the information which was sourced from it.

This means a citation would look like this: (Smith, 2016, p. 22). Any direct quote from the text being sourced must be given a citation. If the information offered was taken from the source, but not directly quoted, then the citation typically appears after the information offered.

#2. MLA

This writing format is often used when referencing language or literature, but is also useful outside of the humanities subjects as well. This format features parenthetical citations as well, but they are often quite brief. In some forms, MLA may allow a writer to only cite the last name of the author, although a works cited page would be required for the direct source. The page where the information is found may also be included in the citation.

This means a citation would look like this: (Smith) or (Smith 22). There is one exception to this rule and that would be if the source is quoted in a different publication. Let’s say Smith was quoted in another book by Jones. The citation would look like this: (qtd in Jones 22).

#3. Chicago

This format was originally published by the Chicago University Press in 1906. It’s goal is to use rules of punctuation and grammar that are common in US English. You can choose citations that are either notes and bibliography or author and date. In the first style, a footnote which corresponds to the actual reference would be used. In the second style, an in-text citation would be required that is similar to other formats.

The citation would look like this: (Smith 2015, 22). Otherwise the number of the source in the bibliography list would be noted next to the text, much like you see on a Wikipedia page, but without a hyperlink to the bottom of the page.

#4. Turabian

This writing format was created by Kate L. Turabian and is designed more for students who are writing research papers, dissertations, and theses. It’s often included with the Chicago format because they are basically identical. Turabian made a few slight modifications to the format so that notes can be used instead of a parenthetical citation that modifies the flow of the text. The author-date citation is also allowed under this format.

It’s the actual bibliography formats that are focused upon in this style. From Twitter posts to blog entries to chapters in books, everything is covered. A complete citation guide is available online for further reference.

#5. IEEE

This writing format also uses the Chicago style as its foundation. The in-text references are also similar to what is found in the Chicago style. What is different is how the citation references are formatted on the bibliography. Certain abbreviations are allowed in this format that are not typically allowed in others, especially when using conference technical articles as source materials. National can be abbreviated to “Nat,” annuals to “annu,” and proceedings to “proc” under this format. It also permits writers to use 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and so forth instead of spelling out the word [i.e. “first”] when necessary.

Choosing the correct writing format is often not a decision the writer makes. It is something that is assigned to them by a manager or professor. For writers that are working on their own, however, the specific elements of each writing format will help to add a level of professionalism to the work being offered for review and remove the threat of a plagiarism accusation.

Melissa G Wilson

Melissa has been a leader in the book writing, publishing and marketing arena for the past two decades. To date, she has helped more than 100 thought leaders write, publish and market their books. Her clients include executives such as Dan Weinfurter a seven-time Inc 500 winner and Orlando Ashford, President of Holland Cruise Lines.

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