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The Writing Guide

Planning, researching, writing, referencing and drafting your assignments

A Matter of Style

Each style has a particular pattern for formatting the details of the work you want to site. It's the pattern that makes the style.

Step 1:  Find out what style you are supposed to use (should be on your subject outline).

Step 2:  Find a guide for the style.

Step 3:  Work out what type of source you have (book, journal article, book chapter), and how many authors is has. The number of authors is important - each style has rules for what to do when you have more than two authors.

Step 4:  Look at the pattern in the guide - the order of the details, the punctuation and whether you use italics.

Step 5:  Arrange the details you have exactly like the pattern in the guide.

Remember:  Do the same thing for the same piece of information every single time - consistency is the most important feature of referencing.

What's a style?

A style is a pattern that tells you where to put the core details, and how to lay it out in your document.  They are usually created by publishers to make sure the books and journals they publish all look the same.

The style you use dictates how you set out your information, what punctuation you use, whether you have spaces between the references...

The style governs the little details - and it can be a big deal.

We have a number of core referencing styles that are used by the different Disciplines here at JCU.

The point of a referencing style is that it keeps you consistent - you put the same information in the same place every single time, and you use the same punctuation to do the same job throughout your reference list.

Some lecturers don't care what style you use - as long as you use a style consistently.  Others definitely want you to use a particular style, and they are paying attention to every single comma and full stop.

It's always a good idea to assume you have the picky lecturer.

Referencing styles guides

There are several styles used at JCU. We've created guides for the main styles we use.

Standardised styles like APA, AMA, MLA, Chicago and AGLC are the same no matter which guide you use (make sure you use the right edition), but styles like "Harvard" and "Vancouver" may have different versions depending on the university.

The best thing to do is find a good guide for the style you are using and keep it handy whenever you are working on an assignment.

The JCU style guides can be found here:

One reference, six styles

This article was downloaded from one of our databases, so we cite it as an electronic article - including the DOI*
Most electronic journal articles have them now, but older articles might not. or URL as appropriate.  We have formatted the reference according to all of the main referencing styles used at JCU.


Barker, N. H. L., & Roberts, C. M. (2004). Scuba diver behaviour and the management of diving impacts on coral reefs. Biological Conservation, 120(4), 481-489.


Barker, NHL & Roberts, CM 2004, 'Scuba diver behaviour and the management of diving impacts on coral reefs', Biological Conservation, vol. 120, no. 4, pp. 481-9, viewed 17 July 2013, DOI 10.1016/j.biocon.2004.03.021, <>.


  1. Barker NHL, Roberts CM. Scuba diver behaviour and the management of diving impacts on coral reefs. Biol Conserv. 2004;120(4):481-9. doi:10.1016/j.biocon.2004.03.021.

MLA (7th Edition):

Barker, N. H. L., and C. M. Roberts. "Scuba Diver Behaviour and the Management of Diving Impacts on Coral Reefs." Biological Conservation 120.4 (2004): 481-89. Web.

Chicago B:

Barker, N. H. L., and C. M. Roberts. 2004. "Scuba diver behaviour and the management of diving impacts on coral reefs." Biological Conservation no. 120 (4):481-489. doi: 10.1016/j.biocon.2004.03.021.

AGLC (Law): 

Barker, N. H. L. and C. M. Roberts, 'Scuba diver behaviour and the management of diving impacts on coral reefs' (2004) 120(4) Biological Conservation 481 <>

*What's a DOI?

We acknowledge the Australian Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples as the first inhabitants of the nation and acknowledge Traditional Owners of the lands where our staff and students, live, learn and work.Acknowledgement of Country