In-text parenthetical citation

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A Comparison of MLA and APA citation styles

In-text parenthetical citation:

  • MLA: Parenthetical citation in MLA style must include at least the author's name. It should also include the page number if a specific page is cited and a short title if more than one work by the same author is listed in the Works Cited page at the end of the paper.

Example 1: "In 'Escaping the demon,' a story about mental illness, the protagonist's point of view is portrayed through a mosaic style which the narrator refers to as "looking at life through broken glass" (Williams 12).

Example 2: "Abrams succinctly outlines his version of the history of literary criticism prior to the Renaissance through the metaphor of the mirror "representing reality unblinkingly (98)."

Example 3: "One writer has characterized the effect of computerization on the human psyche as spiritual saturation (Gergen, "Social Saturation," 45).

  • APA: Very similar to MLA. APA in-text citation must include at least the author's name; also, the year of publication (with letters for multiple sources published the same year [1989a, 1989b]), and the page number, designated as p. 123. APA uses more commas to separate blocks of information than MLA.

Example 1: Hoffenstreich's first book (1995) was a masterpiece of threaded narration.

Example 2: Studies by Self and Hilligoss suggest that "students' revision skills and commitment actually decline with word processing" (1993b, p. 33).

Example 3: However, a recent biography of Yeats (Mariani, 1997) revealed that the poet was dysfunctional.

End-of-text bibliography:

Both MLA and APA include the same basic information:

  1. Author's name

  2. Title of book/article

  3. Journal title*

  4. Year of publication

  5. Publisher

  6. Place of publication

  7. Volume number*

  8. Pages*

* = applies to journal articles

  • MLA: Author's name. Title. Place of publication: publisher, year. Notice that the year is the last item, and that it is not used for parenthetical in-text citation. University presses are abbreviated UP, as in Oxford UP. Hanging indent. Journal article titles are placed inside double quotation marks.

Example 1: 
Smith, John. Deconstructing Colonialism: the discourse of the Empire, 1837-1898. Bloomington, IL: Illinois Wesleyan     UP, 1998. 

Example 2: 
Rosenberg, Arthur. "Is there a text in this universe?" Studies in Teaching College Astrology, 12 (1997): 221-242.

  • APA: Author's name. Year of publication in parentheses. Title. Place of publication: publisher. University presses are not abbreviated. Hanging indent. Remember that works by the same author published in the same year are designated 1998a, 1998b, and are ordered alphabetically. Journal article titles are not put in quotation marks. Author's first name is abbreviated.

    Example 1: 
    Smith, J. (1998). Deconstructing Colonialism: the discourse of the Empire, 1837-1898. Bloomington, IL: Illinois Wesleyan University Press.

    Example 2: 
    Rosenberg, A. (1997). Is there a text in this universe? Studies in Teaching College Astrology, 12, 221-242.

Electronic sources:

See the MLA's website for correct electronic source citation style. But in general, here's what should be included:

  • publication date. This would be either the date the page was created or last modified, AND the date of access. (So each citation should have two dates.) If the website is a digitized version of a print source, the date of the print source can be included as well.

  • URLs. These should always be included, and should be demarcated with angle brackets, as in . Break long URLs after a forward slash.

  • pages. Cite page or paragraph numbers if available.

  • organization. The organization sponsoring the site, or to which the individual belongs, should be listed.

  • versions. Which version or edition of an electronic source is very important and should be included.

    Gray, Paul. "Paradise Found." Time 19 Jan. 1998. 5 Feb. 1998. .

    Twain, Mark. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer. Ed. Internet Wiretap. 1993. 15 Jan. 1998.

    Chadima, Steve. "Re: Businesss as Poker." E-mail to Leonard J. Rosen. 14 Aug. 1998.

    Nostroni, Eric. "Collaborative Learning in a Networked Environment." Online posting. 8 Sept. 1997. Electronic Forum. 9 Nov. 1997.

    Richardson, Lea. Online debate. "The Politics of Recycling." 16 Aug. 1997. EnviroMOO. 16 Aug. 1997.

    "Industrial Revolution." Concise Columbia Encyclopedia. CD-ROM. Redmond: Microsoft, 1994.

 See the APA's website for electronic source citation style ( APA style follows the style for print sources closely. Open with author, date, and title. Then follow with a denotation of the type of electronic source, and follow up with the URL or the source location information.


NCTE. (1987). On writing centers. [CD-ROM]. Urbana: ERIC Clearning House. Silver Platter. 

Keegan, J. (1999). Normandy: The invasion conceived, 1941-43. In Encyclopedia Britannica [Online]. URL

Dice, R. (1998, June 15). Web Database Crash course--Lesson 1 [WWW document]. URL html?tw=frontdoor


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