Q. What's the difference between APA and MLA citation styles?


APA style and MLA style both give rules for citing sources. 

But they are used by different academic disciplines.

APA (American Psychological Association)

  • Psychology
  • Nursing, Business, and some social sciences are adopting it.

MLA (Modern Language Association)

  • Literature; Languages
  • Most of PCC's Writing courses.


Differences: In-Text Citations & Listing Works at the End

APA Style

Garcia (2008) found that language on Twitter is evolving, due to pressure to be both concise and

emotional. However, a later study saw no such evolution (Armstrong, 2020).



Armstrong, M. T. (2020). "Twitter-induced language change reconsidered." Journal of Language

      Change, 2(1), 20-28, https://doi.org/10.1002/s16802-006-9001-2

Garcia, L. (2018). "Darwin on Twitter: How language evolves online." PMBTLA Quarterly, 30(4), pp.

      12- 22, https://doi.org/10.1007/s18802-006-9007-4


MLA style

Linda Garcia concludes that the language used on Twitter is evolving. She notes the simultaneous

pressure to be concise and to be emotional (16). However, a later study saw no such evolution

(Armstrong 25-26).


Works Cited

Armstrong, Mark T. "Twitter-Induced Language Change Reconsidered." Journal of Language

Change, vol. 2, no. 1, 2020, pp. 20-28. 10.1002/s16802-006-9001-2.

Garcia, Linda. "Darwin on Twitter: How Language Evolves Online." PMBTLA Quarterly, vol. 30, no.

4, 2018, pp. 12-  22. Academic Search Premier, 10.1007/s18802-006-9007-4.


Other Noteworthy Differences

Publication Dates

Examples: (See above)

In APA, the date always appears as the second element, both in references and in in-text citations.

In MLA, in-text citations do not include the date. In works cited entries, the date appears near the end.

Authors: Initials

Example: Jennifer A. Townsend (as listed on the source)

APA reference begins:               Townsend, J. A.

MLA works cited entry begins:  Townsend, Jennifer A.

Formatting titles

APA article title:    A nation transformed: What green energy means for Ghana.

MLA article title:   "A Nation Transformed: What Green Energy Means for Ghana."

Citing page numbers

APA requires that in-text citations include page numbers (or another locator) every time you quote a source. But when you paraphrase or summarize, this is optional.

MLA requires that in-text citations include page numbers (when available) every time you quote, paraphrase, or summarize a source.

For more information, see these research guides:

Note: all the sources used as examples above are fictitious.

  • Last Updated Jun 19, 2020
  • Views 19
  • Answered By Joe Brewer

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