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Writing Styles in English Literature

Updated on February 1, 2018
Writing styles in literature
Writing styles in literature | Source
The Chicago Manual of Style is a great resource for writing in the correct format for each of the writing styles of English literature.
The Chicago Manual of Style is a great resource for writing in the correct format for each of the writing styles of English literature. | Source
Reference books come in really handy when you need to use the correct format and create a works cited page for a writing style in English literature.
Reference books come in really handy when you need to use the correct format and create a works cited page for a writing style in English literature. | Source

What is MLA Writing Style?

There are many writing styles in English Literature. The Modern Language Association Style, or MLA, is one of the most common types of writing styles used in school, especially for English Literature majors. This is why understanding how to use the MLA format as well as how to cite sources and create a works cited page using MLA is essential for students. This writing style mainly uses the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (7th edition) and the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd edition) for references.

Some basic features of MLA Style that can help you understand what the MLA format is include:

  • Double-spaced text with 12 pt. font
  • Only one space used after a period or other punctuation
  • One inch margins on all sides
  • The first line of each paragraph is indented one half inch from the left margin (use Tab instead of Space five times)
  • A header with consecutive page numbers in the upper right-hand corner
  • The title is in standard capitalization (not all capitalized) and not italicized or underlined

Citing sources and making a works cited page using the MLA Style:

  • For in-text citations, use only the author's last name and a page number from its original version at the end of any quotes or other references to their work. This is in parenthesis and usually at the end of the sentence, quote, or paraphrase.
  • Don't repeat information in the in-text citations. If the author's name is used in the reference, it does not need to be included in the citation.
  • In-text citations are followed by punctuation finishing the sentence, usually a period.
  • A Works Cited list is at the end of the research paper with details for each in-text citation, in alphabetical order with each entry flush with the left hand margin

More information and examples can be found in the sites to the right.

References for Writing Styles in English Literature

APA Writing Style

The American Psychological Association Style, or APA, uses the sixth edition of the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association for a reference guide to understanding how to do the APA format for the title page, bibliography, headings, and all other aspects of the APA writing style.

Some basic features of the APA writing style for helping you understand how to use APA include:

  • Research papers are divided into eight sections (title page, abstract, introduction, method, results, discussion, references, appendices)
  • It is used for term papers, research reports, empirical studies, literature reviews, theoretical articles, case studies, and methodological articles
  • Serif type face (i.e. Times New Roman) is used for the text of the manuscript
  • Sans Serif type face (i.e. Arial) is used for the figure labels
  • Everything is double-spaced
  • The first line of each paragraph is indented one inch
  • Left hand margin is aligned and the right hand is "ragged"
  • Uses headings
  • Has a specific format and language

How to cite information within the text using the APA format:

  • Cite all references, even if they are only described or paraphrased in the work
  • When quoted, the author's surname, year of publication for the text, and the page number it was found on goes in parentheses. If they are referenced in the text, the year of publication goes in parenthesis following their surname.

More information and details about the basics listed about can be found in the links on the right.

How to use the AAA Writing Style

The American Anthropological Association Style, or AAA, uses the Chicago Manual of Style (15th edition, 2003) and Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary (11th edition, 2006) as references for how to use the AAA format. If you cannot find the rule you are looking for in the Style Guide, check the Chicago Manual of Style; and if you need to check your spelling, use Merriam-Webster's Collegiate Dictionary. When using the dictionary, make sure to follow the American spelling and the first spelling listed in order to use the AAA format correctly.

Some basic features of the AAA writing style for the bibliographic format are as follows:

  • Book titles are not underlined
  • Article titles do not have quotation marks
  • Date of publication precedes the title
  • Entries by the same author are arranged alphabetically by title

Basic features of in-text format for the AAA writing style:

  • Always use quotation marks around a quote and cite after the quote
  • Use the author's full name whenever you can (if you don't have this, then cite their last name in the sentence introducing their material or after a quote or paraphrase)
  • Cite the publication year of the author's work within parenthesis (if the author's name does not appear in the text, this information goes after the name of the author). This is followed with a colon, no space, and then the page number of the original document the material comes from.
  • If the work is reprinted, use the date of that version you used.
  • If a quote is longer than four lines, it must be made into a block quote, excluding quotation marks, with brackets instead of parenthesis, and a period after the brackets

Example Citations for the ASA Format

Example where the name of the author is included in the text:

In her work, Lisa Koski says always cite your sources (2012).

Example where the name of the author is not included in the text:

Always cite your sources (Koski 2012).

ASA Writing Style

The American Sociological Association Style, or ASA, uses the American Sociological Association Style Guide as a reference.

Some basic features of its in-text citations for the ASA writing style are as follows:

  • Include the last name of the author(s) and the year it was published. If their name is in the text, follow it with just the year in parenthesis. If the name is not given in the text, follow it with both their last name and the publication date (Examples to the left.)
  • Use the earliest date the work was published in brackets, followed by the publication date for the version you used. For example, ([2011] 2012).
  • Separate a series of references with semicolons (;).

Other features of the ASA writing style:

  • The text is followed by a reference list where all sources used are cited that is double spaced, in alphabetical order, and uses the first and last name of each author.
  • When the author's name includes initials, use spaces between each one. For example, A. B. C. Author.

© 2012 Lisa


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    • creativegenius profile image

      Brian Scott 

      7 years ago from United States

      Thanks for providing a breakdown of each writing style so I could see the differences.

    • IAttractiveRiting profile image


      8 years ago from Hyderabad,India

      The Concise presentation of defining gothic literatue is

      interesting.Lisa Koski,s presentation has enthused me to

      view her other articles.I appreciate and thank (I am not a literature individual)her for this literary knowledge.

    • suzettenaples profile image

      Suzette Walker 

      8 years ago from Taos, NM

      Excellent article, Lisa. Very thorought and informative. All high school and college students should read and bookmark this page of yours. It is good to have someone used to using these citations and forms to write this. I'm retired now, and I would actually have to do some research to write this today. Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

    • LisaKoski profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from WA

      Thank you. I think of all the articles I've written for HubPages so far, this one was definitely the most time consuming.

    • theraggededge profile image

      Bev G 

      8 years ago from Wales, UK

      You've put a huge amount of work into this. It will be really helpful to many students.

    • duffsmom profile image

      P. Thorpe Christiansen 

      8 years ago from Pacific Northwest, USA

      This Hub is extremely helpful and well done.

    • jimmythejock profile image

      Jimmy the jock 

      8 years ago from Scotland

      Wow very interesting and insightful, i wonder what my style is? great hub....jimmy

    • LisaKoski profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from WA

      Thank you for all of your comments! SimeyC, I will work on those suggestions asap. Thanks :)

    • shea duane profile image

      shea duane 

      8 years ago from new jersey

      If only we could get our students to read this!

    • Green Lotus profile image


      8 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      Very interesting, but i have to admit a bit mind boggling. I suddenly feel very guilty of not following most of the rules. Thank goodness I don't have to prepare my doctoral dissertation anytime soon!

    • SimeyC profile image

      Simon Cook 

      8 years ago from NJ, USA

      Very thorough and detailed hub; well presented and easy to read. The only thing that would help me was perhaps an introduction about Writing Styles maybe explaining why there are different styles - and eve a table with a quick summary of the main points and when you'd use these styles?


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