Breath of Clarity


Why do you need to pay attention to both formatting and style requirements? 

Adhering to formatting and style requirements is crucial to create ethical appeal. A writer needs to demonstrate understanding of the research and writing conventions of their field to come across as knowledgable and, in turn, reputable to the audience. Adhering to formatting and style requirements shows that a writer cares about taking the time to read and follow guidelines out of respect for their field’s conventions. It also shows that a writer understands their audience’s expectations, and from there, can follow instructions (Fudge 2015).

Therefore, not following formatting and style guidelines can result in decline of an argument’s efficacy. It’s interesting to note that one of the reasons organizations do not receive approval for grants is because the writers didn’t follow posted guidelines (Fudge 2015). The consequences of not following formatting and style guidelines may encompass cessation of any project, rejection for publication, and even denial of employment. So, it is important to pay attention to formatting and style requirements to both benefit from the ethos it provides as well as not allow it to interfere with successfully communicating arguments and moving forward in one’s career.

What are some tips that you have found helpful in the past? What are some things you’ve learned along the way that you can share? 

In order to create discipline to abide to the styles, it’s helpful to learn how styles originated and the factors that determine small differences between them. The minor differences between them developed according to research conventions of the disciplines associated with each style. For instance, MLA is the typical style for many humanities-based fields where the most basic component of research and analysis is language. Language can be considered quite literally as the word on the page. That said, the audience needs information regarding how to find the words being analyzed. So, MLA in-text citations don’t include years because the currency of the information is less important than the page number. In contrast, the research for my Master’s thesis is scientific, which has a high regard for currency of knowledge. For that reason, I use Turabian because the author and date supports the audience in understanding my argument within the larger discussion in the field.

Over the course of my academic career, I have learned some things about formatting and style along the way. I have learned that having a template for the reference listing and in-text citations helps a lot. That way, I do not need to remember the exact details of the citation format every time I am creating a reference. Then, I can just copy and paste the reference’s content into the template. Also, adhering to formatting and style requirements provides consistency (Fudge 2015). I have learned that when the consistency is lacking, it is difficult for the audience to focus on the writer’s content and argument. Inconsistent formatting and style becomes distracting. Further, not adhering to formatting and style requirements interferes with the writer communicating their purpose.


Fudge, Tamara. 2015. “The Importance of Formatting.” Purdue Global Writing Center. May 13, 2015.

Comment by Professor Keith Hay:


I agree with you statement, ” A writer needs to demonstrate understanding of the research and writing conventions of their field to come across as knowledgable and, in turn, reputable to the audience.” At the end of the day, these are all conventions and what we are talking about is being able to recognize and use the appropriate convention in context. Part of that, of course, is reading and understanding the context. We all do that a lot of the time. But there is also an interesting question that we have not asked, is the convention reasonable or justified? Of course we want to know what the conventions are and how to use them. But I do think that it is worth asking they are reasonable. Is it possible that some of the conventions come from a racist background or set of believes.

My Comment:

Hi Keith,

Awesome question. The conventions are based upon the power dynamic between the writer and audience. So, it is definitely possible that some of the conventions come from a racist background considering the patriarchal element of the English-speaking population. Perhaps, there are ways that a writer can make a style align with a set of personal beliefs while still ultimately showing a sense of knowledge and respect for the audience or explicitly explain reasoning for not following conventions based upon the thesis of the composition.

Comment by Kyle Pesek:

Hello Mary,

Thank you for your stylistic insights. In particular, the demonstration of these style expectations alongside formatting conventions can help to provide a piece of writing more immediate professional credulity by its audience when applied correctly. The ability to pare an argument down to its bare essentials while still keeping its message comprehensible for all of its intended audience is a vital one to master for both professional and academic writing composition. I also agree that utilizing a Reference template has saved me many hours on citations between both discussion posts and research assignments throughout this Masters program.