Students often wonder aloud at the minutiae of publication manuals. New editions of both the APA and MLA classics were announced this summer. The APA sixth edition, trimmed to 272 pages, at least promises to lighten the backpack when compared to the heavyweight fifth edition, which weighed in at 439 pages – still no match though for our 1977 first edition, first printing copy of the MLA Handbook, a trim 163 pages. The new, 7th edition MLA Handbook is 292 pages.
One looks for motive. MLA now suggests one space after a period ending a sentence, but one of the changes in the new APA manual returns us to two spaces after a period at the end of a sentence (pp. 87-88).
There are of course other styles, but APA and MLA still appear to be the heavyweights, so when they announce a rematch, we want to be ringside.
We learn to march in cadence; if what we want is a style of our own, one pervious to whimsy, we can always try poetry, the perfect antidote to the poison of style.