Style manuals go beyond listing how to format a citation to a source. They establish standards for consistency in writing: grammar, punctuation, and layout. They discuss how to present tables and figures, how to format headings and page numbers, which words to capitalize or abbreviate, and what nomenclature to use in a field.
Consulting these aspects of a style guide before beginning to write can save time and lead to better communication.
For assignments, the citation style is often determined by your instructor. For manuscripts you plan to submit, the style is often determined by the publisher or editor.
When you are allowed to choose a citation style, use these guidelines:
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