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MLA vs APA Citation Formats

Citing work written by another person is critical when writing a paper or essay. Not providing adequate citation or reference is considered plagiarism. In-text citations are essential in writing a paper, and have very definite formats. Since instructors may ask for different citation formats, you may want to learn about the different types. Two common citation formats for writing student papers are Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Psychological Association (APA).

What are the differences between MLA and APA formats?

Here are some examples:

One author, no direct quotation: MLA: (Olson) APA: (Olson, 2010)

One author, direct quotation: MLA: (Olson 10) APA: (Olson, 2010, p. 10)

Two authors: MLA: (Olson and Johnson 14) APA: (Olson & Johnson, 2010, p.14)

Note: Check the MLA or APA style guides for citations with three or more authors.

An example of a citation for paraphrased material in APA format is:

In a study of instructional coaches, schools in Wyoming were given grants to hire instructional coaches to provide professional development, to assist in aligning instruction with curriculum standards and assessments, and to work one-on-one with teachers to improve teaching practices (Stock & Duncan, 2010).

In APA format, an ampersand is used when the author's names appear inside the parentheses. When the author's names are in the text, for example: Stock and Duncan (2010)…., the word and is used.

An example of a direct quotation citation in APA format is:

Bass predicted that the future would hold an "inability for individuals to tolerate a complete lack of stimulation in the environment around them" (Bass, 2002, p. 376).

To get more writing tips, visit the WriteCheck Writing Center.

Other resources:

MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers

The Center for Writing Studies

Purdue OWL

Writing Skills Citation, mla vs apa, writecheck, writing

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