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MLA/APA Style Comparison

This information is based on Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association, Sixth Edition, and MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers, Seventh Edition.


Format Basics



Generally used in the Humanities and Fine Arts; Handbook is written for students and professionals

Used in the Social Sciences; may also be used in other disciplines (e.g., Nursing, Education); Publication Manual written for professionals

Authoritativeness based on quality of information and credentials of the author

Authoritativeness based on how current the information is, where it was published, and credentials of the author

Uses a wide range of illustrative visual materials (MLA Handbook, pp. 119-129)

Uses graphics (e.g., tables, charts) frequently to present data and prescribes graphics format (Publication Manual, Ch. 5); places graphics after References

Uses headings infrequently

Recommends headings and prescribes format for up to five levels of headings (pp. 62-63)

No title page required (pp. 116-117)

Uses title page with required format (p. 41)

All pages: writer last name + page no. (right)

All pages:  Running head (left) and page number (right)


List of Sources 

List of Sources: Works Cited

List of Sources: References

Includes all sources cited in the text

Includes all sources cited in the text except personal interviews and non-retrievable data 

Uses author’s complete name

Uses author's last name, with initials only of first and middle names

Reverses first and last names of first author only; lists co-authors in traditional order

Reverses every co-author’s first and last name

Uses commas between names of multiple authors, with and before the last author’s name

Uses commas between names of multiple authors, with an ampersand (&) before the last author’s name

Uses only the city for the place of publication (unless city is obscure)

Uses city and state in the U.S; city, state or province, and country outside the U.S.  (pp. 186-187)

Uses quotation marks around article titles; italicizes book and journal titles

Does not use quotation marks around, or underlining of, article titles; italicizes book and journal titles

Capitalizes each significant word of the title and subtitle of a source and all proper names

Capitalizes only the first word of the title and subtitle of articles and books. Capitalizes all proper names and periodical titles/names

Does not use DOI to identify journal articles; includes name of database in citation

Uses DOI; for electronic journal articles without DOI, includes homepage of journal

Identifies medium (Print, Web); omits URL

For other web documents without DOI, includes URL

Includes date of retrieval

Uses date of retrieval only if information may change    


In-text Citations



For all citations (summary, paraphrase, or quotations), uses author's last name and page number only, usually at end of the cited passage; e.g., (Estes 202).

For summary or paraphrase, uses author’s last name and publication date separated by a comma; e.g.,

(Johnson, 1992). 

For quotations, also includes page number; e.g., 

(Johnson, 1992, p. 140)

May also use author’s name in text:  The work of Estes (158) and others indicates

that . . .

Often integrates author citation within the sentence before the cited passage; e.g., Estes and Skinner (1940) have suggested . . . 


MLA Works Cited Examples


Atwood, Margaret.  Alias Grace.  New York:  Bantam Doubleday, 1996.



Clark, Alice L., and George H. Dalrymple. “$7.8 Billion for Everglades Restoration: Why Do

              Environmentalists Look So Worried?” Population and Environment 24.6 (2003): 541-




Robertson, Claire C. “Age, Gender, and Knowledge Revolutions in Africa and the United States.” Journal of Women’s History 12.4 (2000): 174-183. Web. 6 Aug. 2008.


APA References Examples 


Timson, W. M.  (1996). Concepts and choices for teaching:  Meeting the challenges in higher

             education.  Madison, WI:  Magna Publications.



Gupta, A.K., & Govindajaran, V. (2000). Managing global expansion: A conceptual

             framework. Business Horizons, 43 (2), 45-54.



With Digital Object Identifier (DOI):

Gulicovski, J., Cerovic, L., Milonjic, S., & Popovic, I. (2008). Adsorption of itaconic acid from aqueous solutions onto alumina. Journal of the Serbian Chemistry Society, 73(8-9), 835-843. doi: 10.2298/JSC0809835P

Without DOI and from database:

Thurlow, C., & McKay, S. (2003). Profiling "new" communication technologies in adolescence. Journal of Language and Social Psychology, 22(1), 94-103. Retrieved from  

Without DOI and from a web location:

Pachter, W. S., Fox, R. E., Zimbardo, P., & Antonuccio, D. O. (2007). Corporate funding and conflicts of interest: A primer for psychologists. American Psychologist, 62(9), 1005-1015. Retrieved from