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Style Guides: Trick or Treat?

September 27, 2013

Is APA terrifying you into a writing coma? The University Writing Center is here to help calm your fears. The article below follows APA guidelines and can serve as a model for all of you exploring the dark forest of a new style guide. By comparing it with the MLA version of the same article, you can identify the main differences between the two most common style guides. There’s no need to turn back now, so keep reading to learn more about this author-date system of documentation. 


“What are you going to be for Halloween?” is a question that begins circulating among friends even before October arrives. Finding the right costume requires a spark of creativity and a little bit of luck. In 2012, the top costumes were witches, vampires, and zombies (Handwerk, 2012). In 2013, the results will likely be similar. I remain hopeful that zombies will ultimately top the list. Although costumes appear to be “just for fun,” they express a complexity that one might take for granted. Researchers Donald Hill, Cynthia Jasper, and Kimberly Miller (1991) found that “the wearing of a costume on Halloween was perceived as contributing to the distinction between Halloween and a typical night out: nearly 56% of the students who wore a costume perceived Halloween as different” (p. 812). In this case, dressing up distinguishes Halloween as a special event; however, costumes have influential power beyond how they look. According to Brian Handwerk (2012), costumes allow “young men [to dress] as women and vice versa, marking a temporary breakdown of normal social divisions” (“Halloween”). Costumes are a form of social commentary and perhaps, even a critique of society. Although Halloween is often not addressed so seriously, it can be an outlet for frustrations with ideology. Of course, finding the right costume—whether to rally against ideology or to simply have fun—can be challenging. To resolve this tricky situation, Appalachian State turned to its theater department for a real treat. In The Appalachian Online, Jacqueline Scott reported that theater majors sold costumes for “a lot cheaper and better than anything someone can get elsewhere in Boone” (Scott, 2007, para. 10). Whether from the theater department or from a super-store, costumes help to create and enliven the spirit of Halloween.

Handwerk, B. (2012, Oct. 29). Halloween 2012: Top costumes, history, myths,

        more. National Geographic. Retrieved from


Miller, D. R., Jasper, C. R., & Miller, K. A. (1991). Costume and the perception of

        identity and role. Perceptual and Motor Skills, 72(3), 807-813. doi: 10.2466/pms.1991.72.3.807

Scott, J. (2007, Oct. 17). One of a kind Halloween costumes sold in student

        union. The Appalachian Online. Retrieved from


2012-10-31 21.30.50


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