This paper considers the importance of the choice of bifurcation parameter in the determination of the voltage stability limit and the maximum power load ability of a system. When the bifurcation parameter is power demand, the two limits are equivalent. However, when other types of load models and bifurcation parameters are considered, the two concepts differ. The continuation method is considered as a method for determination of voltage stability margins. Three variants of the continuation method are described: the continuation parameter is the bifurcation parameter the continuation parameter is initially the bifurcation parameter, but is free to change, and the continuation parameter is a new `arc length` parameter. Implementations of voltage stability software using continuation methods are described. (author) 23 refs., 9 figs.