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Online Documentation Guide

The Secret to Effective Documentation

There is no secret shortcut or magic wand, but documentation is not difficult: find the guidelines and follow them carefully. It's the same process as following a recipe or installing computer software. Simply follow the rules.

When you write an e-mail or URL address, you have a keen eye for detail. If one element is wrong, it will not work. This is exactly what you do when you follow documentation guidelines.

If the guidelines put the publication year in parenthesis for an in-text citation, do this. You do not need to remember these guidelines. Simply look them up. Are titles italicized or underlined? Is there a pesky comma before the page number in a citation? Look it up when you need to.

You might have to spend some time identifying what the citation guidelines call your source: is it a digital document, an online source, a webpage or an electronic document? Finding the exact keyword can take time, but it hones your research skills.

Documentation generators are helpful but imperfect and no substitute for carefully following documentation guidelines. Like spellcheckers, they may be a good start, but you must carefully review the material afterward to make sure it is correct.

This site provides you with information on the major documentation styles used at Trent University and other universities. It also gives you guidance about how to use these styles.


If you have any questions, concerns, comments or suggestions about the documentation guidelines on this site, please send us an email.


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