Wednesday, 29 April 2009

Make your stylish choice: MLA or APA?

Picture by Adam Lyon taken from

Let's see closer the meaning of these two citing styles:

MLA: Modern Language Association is a style which provides guidelines for citing sources when you work on a subject or a topic and you need to make your search on other poeople's work. Particularly used for humanities search.

APA: American Psychological Association with the same purpose of MLA. Particularly used for scientific search.

They both are widely accepted and used by anyone who decides to cite sources for English-written works.

They can be used to cite sources for works written in other languages, too, but no specific regulations or guidelines have ever been given.

During my school career I have never received advice to cite source for my works, I did it on my own, probaly making mistakes. I'm writing my MA thesis and I'm trying to follow these guidelines. I prefer APA style because I know it more and I used it as I was attending the English course during the third year at the University.

They seem to be quite similar, I mean, you are supposed to cite the sources of your work, you will probably write the author's name, the title of the work (book, website, and so on), year, editor and publisher. But these are too generic data. APA and MLA formats have been written in order to make order. When you decide which one you need, you need to be aware of their differences and characteristics.

In-text citations:
MLA style: author's name and date of publication
APA style: author's name, date of publication, page number

Authors and editors:
MLA style: list of the available names and in case of more than one author, only the first is mentioned and followed by 'et al.'
APA style: list of all authors and editors with the initials of the first name and the complete last names

MLA style: underline the title and capital letter of any important word in it
APA style: use of italics and capital letter only of the first word

MLA style: short names
APA style: complete names

Place of publication:
MLA style: only the name of the city or the town
APA style: state abbreviation when the city or the town is not known

Pages (always indicated when you are referring to a specific part of the source):
MLA style: first page and the sign '+'
APA style: first page nad additional ones

MLA style: the date has to be put at the end of the citation
APA style: the date follows the name(s) of the author(s)

If I have a look to all of these guidelines and rules I go crazy. I really need to study more about them. I'm still working on the article to be presented on next Thursday's lecture, because I have many difficulties using these two styles separately.

We will see...
Have a nice day,

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