An important structural element of every academic paper is an appropriate means to note the sources that the writer has drawn upon in the paper.
The precise format (footnotes, endnotes, in-text citations) for noting sources would typically be expected to conform to one of the sets of stylistic conventions that have become standard within disciplines (e.g., APA style or MLA style). For a more detailed discussion of these conventions see the Creating Bibliographies module.
When some instructors specify a particular formatting style, they are simply referring to the citation method. However, many other aspects of a paper’s format are also specified by these standard formatting styles, such as margins, line spacing, title page, etc. It is important to clarify whether these features must also follow the standard format.