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Running head: Using APA and MLA Style in Writing

Antwan Crutcher ENG 3080J Mr. Vetter Project #1

Running head: Using APA and MLA Style in Writing Overtime, rules have been developed for many different reasons. Some rules are in place to keep people safe, some rules are in place to keep everyday practices in order and some rules have been developed to improve the overall quality of life. In writing, rules change to improve the quality of product that authors, creative writers and scholars are creating. Who determines these rules? The rules are ever-changing and oftentimes, it is hard to keep up with the changes. In order to maintain a more uniformed style of writing, the APA and MLA Style Guides are referenced by writers to ensure they are following the rules of writing. In high school, when I attended Ginn Academy we were taught to use MLA formatting when we typed our papers and also in English 151 at Ohio University in the quarter system during freshman year English. My teacher Brianna Mauk who was a grad student stressed how important MLA formatting styles were important in college writing. We clashed a lot because I would get good grades on writing assignments but she took off points because I did something wrong with MLA instead of the quality of my writing.I think she was strict because she knew our college professors would be on us. However, some degree programs, such as the Communication Studies program, students are now being asked to transition to APA style. Everything Brianna taught me was out the window and I had to adapt to the APA formatting style. Each style has a rhyme and a reason as to the nuances involved in its Style Guide. If only one style of writing was in place, there would be no questions as to whether or not a writer in adhering to the rules because, from a young age, we would practice the skills related to the only style put in place. I chose to exploit this problem in todays writing style and writing formatting rules because it is a problem I have encountered throughout my education. Usually, papers or publications are written in one of four styles of writing. (Hartley, p. 917). There are advantages and disadvantages of the four major writing styles that pose problems

Running head: Using APA and MLA Style in Writing for both the writer and the reader (Hartley, p. 922). Two of these styles are abbreviated and stand for meanings that represent their organization and related fields. Each chapter in the Style Guides follows a sequence to writing a paper (Sullivan, p. 2). Each chapter builds on the chapter before it and provides the writer with a guide to writing. Each chapter is written so the writer can easily pick what chapter they needs. The APA manual is a style guide for writers who are working on manuscripts for publication. One of the advantages to using APA style could be that it is easy to recognize whether or not something has been cited, but a disadvantage could be that it is hard to cite an author when the author is anonymous (Hartley, p. 923). One of the advantages Hartley lists when using APA is that it is an easier system for using footnotes, but a disadvantage is that the use of names prevents errors with reference to multiple authors with the same initials. APA stands for American Psychological Association and is used in social and behavioral science fields (Walden, p. 1). Professionals and students seeking positions within the fields of criminology, social work, nursing, economics, businesses and psychology would use this type of formatting (Lewis, slide 3). Business managers and editors who worked in the field of anthropology and psychology met in 1928 to develop a process for journal writing and also manuscript writing, and the APA style came to life (Sullivan, p. 1). The APA Style Guide is different from that of the MLA Style Guide in several different ways; most noticeably confused is the way to cite in text and in the reference list (Hartley, p. 923). MLA stands for Modern Languages Association (Hartley, p. 918) and is used by authors and used by students and scholars in universities and colleges across the country. Different professions and disciplines are centered on different purposes and main focuses, the different styles are in place to accommodate the differences among fields.

Running head: Using APA and MLA Style in Writing If a new, standardized style was to adopt the best principles of APA and MLA then it would make for an easier measure of writing. Professional fields would not have to figure out whether or not they fell under the APA umbrella or the MLA umbrella, they would only need to follow one set of rules. Educators would be able to follow one set of guidelines when checking a paper, rather than figure out which set of guidelines that particular piece was to follow. Some of the changes implemented from year-to-year in the styles guides are miniscule and complex and having to reference three to four different style guides can prove to be difficult for writers across different disciplines. The vast differences between the styles guides, namely the APA and MLA guides, encompass ideas that are completely different from one another, including the use of ambiguity within the text. These differences make for a different piece of writing across multiple disciplines. According to Lavelle and Zuercher, Writing is the externalization and remaking of thinking, and to consider writing as separate from the intentions and beliefs of the writer is not to address composition as a reflective tool for making meaning. In the college setting, students approach learning more as a reflection of the relationship between the student and the assignment. This means that a lot of the finished product for a college student depends on their attitude toward the assignment. If one, standardized style of writing instead of multiple ones, it would help alleviate the added pressure on college students to perform to their best ability when writing. It would not be practical to suggest getting rid of a standard style of writing all together, however, modifications can be made to accommodate one style of writing if the style guides put in place today were merged together for writers to follow one set of rules. It is hard to find discussion on authors viewpoints of the existing style guides because there is little done to challenge the rules that have been in place for many years. Most of the

Running head: Using APA and MLA Style in Writing research discusses changes occurring within each style from edition to edition and why the new rules improve writing within that style. For example, James M. Clawson discusses the miniscule difference that MLA Style Guide implemented between editions, hi-lighting the difference in italicizing and underlining and the type of spacing after punctuation marks (Clawson, p. 235). In my opinion, these two ideas do not contribute to the overall quality of a writing piece. Another change from one edition to another that Clawson introduces is the way we cite internet sources (Clawson, p. 235). Prior to one edition, the use of the internet wasnt as popular, but after another edition was published, the way to cite the source was introduced. In James Porters article entitled, Intertextuality and the Discourse Community, he tells readers about the importance of giving credit to proper sources. In the APA and MLA Style Guides, they each give specific instruction on how to do so, and this helps writers give credit where credit is due. The major discrepancies between these two styles seem to cover a wide range of style rules, including the use of ambiguity within MLA. A graduate student from Cal State University Chico, Scott Lewis, published a presentation on APA Style and what distinguishes this style from MLA and Chicago Style formats. He claims APA is all about disambiguation. When something is ambiguous, it can be interpreted in many different ways depending on the reader. Scott argues that, when you write something, it should be interpreted how it is written rather than in flowery language like MLA format tends to use (Lewis, slide 2). In APA format, youre not talking about what you think or what you feel, but are writing more about what you researched or about a body of work. Lewis compares APA and MLA Styles saying that MLA style uses more analogies rather than simply stating the facts (Lewis, slide 2). There are some professionals in the higher education field who question the adherence to the stylistic rules of their colleagues and others within the professional environment. In a Letter

Running head: Using APA and MLA Style in Writing to the Editor of the Chronicle of Higher Education, Robert Hauptman of Burlington, Vermont, wrote, I have found that many well-known academics are profoundly incapable of applying their chosen system correctly. In his letter, he goes on to talk about how some authors misspell names, incorrectly use data and offer excuses for their anomalies. They lack attention to detail that correct grammar, style and formatting is supposed to guarantee. Mr. Hauptman is a professor at St. Cloud State University and also acts as the editor of the Journal of Information Ethics. For a professor to make these statements, and also with for a journal publication, these are strong views, views that I agree with. If there was one, uniform, standardized way of writing, the English language may be easier for those who are trying to learn. Using appropriate style when formatting is not as important as scholars in higher education make it seem because writing is all about generating a thought or idea and expressing it. As long as the thought or idea is valid and has some value to its audience, then there would not be a cited problem in how the author expresses their idea in writing. Those who have put these rules in place, are increasingly interested in establishing a uniform way to write (Hartley, p. 917). The point of writing is for the reader to comprehend and understand the meaning, so if you cannot understand the meaning, then why write? If the way someone brainstorms their ideas is inefficient, then another creative approach can be used no matter the rules put in place in a style guide. Pople and Michael said that What can be taught are techniques, the tricks and skills a writer uses. Not what to say but how it is said. In writing, the reader wants to read something that descriptive and accurate, whether it falls in line with the APA or MLA Style Guide is not a concern to the reader, except in higher education. If the styles were merged, and took ideas from each, then one standard format for writing could be adopted across all fields and in higher education. This uniformed style could encompass the best ideas

Running head: Using APA and MLA Style in Writing from all the styles currently set in place and help any confusion about which format a particular piece was written in. These different styles are used for different professions to emphasize certain ideas. Each profession is different and has a different way of documenting, which can cause confusion to those who are not part of this group. In a blog published by a Walden University student, Amy Kubista, the reasons why APA Style is used at their University are examined. As a Graduate Writing Tutor, Kubista wanted to relay the reasons why APA formatting was used as a measurement for accuracy at their school. Kubista cited three different reasons as to why the APA guidelines were necessary. The first reason Kubista explained was maintaining consistency throughout their publications. One specific format helps to maintain a consistent look for all of the students on their campus. The second reason Kubista discussed is how a single format helps professors when grading. APA format can act a secondary set of guidelines for each student to follow when they write and also act a guideline for the professor when they are giving each paper a grade. Lastly, Kubista said that being able to take directions from a professor and following the APA Style Guide is good practice before entering the workplace because it shows you are capable of taking directions from someone else, just as you would when you get a job after completing your college degree. Walden University requires the APA style for their students and asks them to think of it as a dictionary for writing. Their website suggests, If we didnt have the dictionary telling us how to spell learning, each one of us could theoretically spell it a different way, (Walden, p. 1). This statement is a valid point, however, using one style would prove less confusing for writers and readers in higher education and professional fields. One might oppose these arguments presented in this essay because it allows too much freedom in writing, especially in the higher education setting. This seems opposite to what I have

Running head: Using APA and MLA Style in Writing learned from a young age in writing. When we learn to brainstorm, write outlines, etc., teachers do not tell us to follow specific guidelines in doing so. Who wrote these Styles Guides and deemed them the standard set of measurements? There is not one specific, or correct, way to approach the art of writing, it depends on the individual. That is the beauty of writing! Rules inhibit the author and do not allow for the best final product that it can be. The use of APA and MLA formatting styles have both positive and negative implications. Overall, the negatives outweigh the positives in terms of writing. If one style of writing was adopted across the country in higher education and professional fields, it would be an easier transition academically. In my experience, having more than one style of writing has hindered my learning process in writing from the elementary age through college. I have had to adopt principles from APA Style Guide and MLA Style Guide and have had to determine whether or not each principle applied in my work was from the correct style of writing. It is not suitable to completely be rid of a standard style guide for writing in its entirety, however, adjustments should be applied to accommodate one style of writing.

Running head: Using APA and MLA Style in Writing

Work Cited Clawson, J. M. (2009). The Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing Modern Language Association of America (College Literature ed., Vols. 36 - 3, p. 234-237). N.p.: college literature. Retrieved May 22, 2013 Hartley, J. (2002). On Choosing Typographic Settings for Reference Lists (Vols. 32 - 5/6, p. 917932). N.p.: Sages Publications, Ltd. Retrieved May 22, 2013 Hauptman, R. (Ed.). (2011). Why Bother With Details in Papers' Citations? N.p.: The chronicle of higher education. Retrieved May 25, 2013 Kubista, A. (2010, September 15). What is the point? [Weblog]. Retrieved from http://waldenwritingcenter.blogspot.com/2010/09/what-is-point.html May 22, 2013 Lavelle, E., & Zuercher, N. (2002.). Higher Education (Vols. 42 - 3). N.p.: Springer. Retrieved May 28, 2013 Lewis, S., APA Style[Powerpoint slides]. Retrieved from Student Learning center Collection: http://rce.csuchico.edu/sites/default/files/online/slc/APA%20Style.pdf Pople, I., & Michael, l. (2006.). Establishing a metanarrative in creative/Academic Writing: An exercise to help students with writing. Retrieved May 24, 2013 Sullivan, J. (N.d.). Why Do We Use the APA Format?, Retrieved May 26, 2013 What is APA Style and Why do I have to Use It?(2010) Retrieved May 22, 2013 from http://writingcenter.waldenu.edu/Documents/APA/What_Is_APA_and_Why_Do_I_Have _to_Use_It.pdf