The Battle of the Styles (APA, MLA, Chicago)

Back when I was in university (oh so many moons ago), it was always frustrating to me that there were different essay formats. Why couldn’t there just be a single method for writing essays? There’s a lot of overlap between the three main ones (because apparently, there are other styles out there… but I have no experience or knowledge about those), but some key differences. And woe unto you, if you mix them up!

My university experience might have been a little unique in that I had an almost equal mix of classes that required each style. Generally speaking, English classes use MLA. The introduction to the handbook declares that this format is for those in the humanities. Psychology classes (generally under the heading of “humanities” when not considered a “hard” science), use APA. This, to me, is not really an issue. It is a style created by the American Psychology Association (hence, APA) specifically for the use in Psychology and the other sciences. Finally, there is the Chicago Manuscript Style (which I’ve also seen called Turabian online –but never during my university career). This one is used in the field of History and Social Studies. Again, another “humanities” field.

Now, I’ve heard that high schools generally teach MLA. Mine didn’t bother teaching us a format at all. The only reason I knew MLA going into university is that my mom was taking some classes during my high school years and had the MLA Handbook. In university one awesome prof gave me (and everyone in the class) a three page sample essay that explained how to use APA in practice. It was so much better than when a later course required I buy the actual APA Handbook. (Admittedly, the handbook proved useful a time or two)

Strangely, I preferred the Chicago style. And whenever given a choice, that was the one I always went with. Of course, the classes that offered a choice were generally my Classics classes, or other ones that sort of straddle the line between what the “correct” format is (like Political Studies, or Women’s Studies, or Religious Studies). But I love me my footnotes 🙂

Over my six years at university, I ended up creating word templates for each specific style. It was so much easier and quicker than having to dig up my old manuals or refer to cheat sheets every time I switched between the styles. Plus, with a template, it always felt like the essay was half written for me. They’re a little out of date now (as it’s been two and a half years), so I won’t post the templates themselves. But for the university and high school students who can’t figure out (or remember) the difference, here is a quick run-down of each style!

Formatting Issue MLA APA Chicago
Citing references (in text) Uses parentheses, i.e., these things ( ), to reference a source within the text.

If the author/title is stated in the sentence, only the page number follows.

Only use the authors’ last name when citing in the text.

Examples:

·         The quick brown fox blah blah blah (Bob 123).

·         Bob states that the quick brown fox blah blah blah (123).

Uses parentheses to reference a source within the text.

Just requires authors’ last name(s) and publication year.

Examples:

·         The quick brown fox blah blah blah (Bob, 2059) blah blah blah.

·         Bob (2059) states that the quick brown fox blah blah blah.

Note: you don’t put the parentheses at the end of the sentence unless that’s where the reference ends.

With 3-5 authors, you cite all the authors the first time, and all subsequent citations include just the first author followed by “et. al.” and the year.

Direct quotations include the page number (written as p. 123)

Uses foot or endnotes. (I always preferred footnotes)

The foot/endnote entries are very similar to the final/full references at the end of the document.

If you enter your foot/endnotes correctly, MS Word has a feature that automatically compiles them into the final/full reference.

Foot/endnotes can also be used to include relevant, but extra data (in addition to the regular use as a citation method).

“ibid” is a magical tool that basically means “ditto –this references the same thing as the last one”. You can’t use “ibid” across pages though. (So if you reference the same thing on a new page, you’ve got to put all the information down again)

Note: there is a version of the Chicago style that uses parentheses, I’ve never used it.

Book, 1-3 authors In text, it looks like:

·         Bob 123

·         Bob and John 123

·         Bob, John, and Darcy 123

Full reference looks like:

·         Bob, Carl. The Quick Brown Fox. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2059. Print.

·         Bob, Carl, Matt John, and George Darcy. The Quick Brown Fox. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2059. Web.

(It goes Last Name, First Name. Extra authors are written First Name Last Name)

(Full reference)

·         Bob, Carl. (2059). The quick brown fox. Bree, Shire: Bree Publishing.

·         Bob, Carl, & John, Matt. (2059). The quick brown fox. Bree, Shire: Bree Publishing.

First reference (“in text”):

·         Carl Bob, The Quick Brown Fox (Bree: Bree Publishing, 2059), 123-124.

·         Carl Bob, Matt John, and George Darcy, The Quick Brown Fox (Bree: Bree Publishing, 2059), 123.

Second reference (“in text”):

·         Bob, Quick Brown Fox, 125.

·         Bob, John, and Darcy, Quick Brown Fox, 125.

Full reference:

·         Bob, Carl. The Quick Brown Fox. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2059.

·         Bob, Carl, Matt John, and George Darcy. The Quick Brown Fox. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2059.

Note: in the second reference, you “condense” the title. So in my example, I dropped the “the”.

Book, 4+ authors In text, it looks like:

·         Bob et al. 123

Full reference looks like:

·         Bob, Carl et al. The Quick Brown Fox. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2059. Print.

See above. First reference (“in text”):

·         Carl Bob et al. The Quick Brown Fox (Bree: Bree Publishing, 2059), 123.

Second reference (“in text”):

·         Bob et al., Quick Brown Fox, 125.

Full reference:

·         Same as 2+

2+ books by the same author (Full reference). Sort books alphabetically by title. After the first full reference, replace author’s name with three hyphens.

Example:

·         Bob, Carl. The Quick Brown Fox. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2059. Print.

·         —. Working on Foxes. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2063. Web.

Simply list them in order by publication date, with the earliest first.

Example:

·         Bob, Carl. (2059). The quick brown fox. Bree, Shire: Bree Publishing.

·         Bob, Carl. (2063). Working on Foxes. Bree, Shire, Bree Publishing.

If they are published in the same year, then you arrange them alphabetically by title, and add a letter to the years.

·         etc. etc. (2059a)

·         etc. etc. (2059b)

In the full reference section, you sort them alphabetically by the title. After the first entry, replace the author’s name with three hyphens.
Anthology List by the anthology or compilation’s editor.

·         Darcy, George, ed. Foxes and Logs. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2062. Print.

For a specific part of an anthology or compilation, it looks like:

·         Bob, Carl. “A Quick Fox.” Foxes and Logs. Ed. George Darcy. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2062. 123-124. Print.

·         Darcy, George, & John, Matt (Eds.). (2062). Foxes and logs. Bree, Shire: Bree Publishing

For a specific part of an anthology or compilation, it looks like:

·         Bob, Carl. (2062). A quick fox. In George Darcy, & Matt John (Eds.), Foxes and logs (pp. 123-125). Bree, Shire: Bree Publishing.

In the below examples, the first point is for something with only an editor. The second is for something that has an editor and an author.

First reference (“in text”):

·         George Darcy, ed. Foxes and Logs (Bree: Bree Publishing, 2062). 123.

·         Carl Bob, Foxes and Logs, ed. George Darcy (Bree: Bree Publishing, 2062), 123.

Second reference (“in text”):

·         Darcy, Foxes and Logs, 125.

·         Bob, Foxes and Logs, 125.

Full reference:

·         Darcy, George, ed. Foxes and Logs. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2062.

·         Bob, Carl. Foxes and Logs. Editor George Darcy. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2062.

Corporate author For when there is no single author, but an association, agency, organization, etc.

·         Group for Ethical Treatment of Foxes. Jumping Logs: How to Save the Foxes. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2068. Web.

·         Group for Ethical Treatment of Foxes. (2068). Jumping logs: How to save the foxes. Bree, Shire: Bree Publishing. First, second, full:

·         Group for Ethical Treatment of Foxes, Jumping Logs: How to Save the Foxes (Bree: Bree Publishing, 2068), 123.

·         GEToF, Jumping Logs, 125.

·         Group for Ethical Treatment of Foxes. Jumping Logs: How to Save the Foxes. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2068.

Reference book (article) Include the author’s name, if there is one. Otherwise, start with the article’s title.

·         Bob, Carl. “My Fox.” The Wonders of Log Jumping Foxes. Ed. George Darcy. 6 vols. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2063. Print.

Include the author’s name, if there is one. Otherwise, start with the article’s title.

·         Bob, Carl. (2063). My fox. In George Darcy (Ed.), The wonders of log jumping foxes (Vol. 6, pp. 123-125). Bree, Shire: Bree Publishing.

First, second, full:

·         The Wonders of Log Jumping, s.v. “My Fox.”

·         (same)

·         Well-known reference books are not usually listed in bibliographies. For a non-well known reference book, use standard referencing (as above).

Online book When referencing something online, you should include the date that you accessed it. (Note: this was not done in the above “web” example entries).

·         Bob, Carl. “My Fox.” Log Jumping Quarterly 12 (2051): 123-125. Rpt. in The Wonders of Log Jumping Foxes. Ed. George Darcy. Vol. 6. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2063. 123-125. GEToF Online. Web. 12 Jan. 2064.

You replace the place and publisher information with the DOI.

·         Bob, Carl (2059). The quick brown fox. doi:11.1234/letters/ 123456789.111.1111

First reference (“in text”):

·         Carl Bob, The Quick Brown Fox (Bree: Bree Publishing, 2059), Kindle edition.

·         Carl Bob, The Quick Brown Fox (Bree: Bree Publishing), accessed January 12, 2064, http://www. (website)

Second reference (“in text”):

·         Bob, Quick Brown Fox.

·         Bob, Quick Brown Fox, chap. 10, doc. 10.

Full reference:

·         Bob, Carl. The Quick Brown Fox. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2059. Kindle edition.

·         Bob, Carl. The Quick Brown Fox. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2059. Accessed January 12, 2064. http://www. (website)

Translation Start with the original author’s name.

·         Bob, Carl. The Quick Brown Fox. Trans. and Ed. George Darcy. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2061. Print.

If you translated the document yourself:

·         Bob, Carl. (2061). El zorro marron rapido [The quick brown fox]. Bree, Shire: Bree Publishing.

If you’re referencing an already translated version:

·         Bob, Carl. (2061). The quick brown fox (George Darcy, Trans.). Bree, Shire: Bree Publishing.

Formatted the same way as with an editor, except you’d write “trans.” rather than “ed.” and “Translator” rather than “Editor”.

See above.

Journal article Printed article:

·         Bob, Carl. “My Fox.” Log Jumping Quarterly 12 (2051): 123-125. Print

Web article:

·         Bob, Carl. “My Fox.” Log Jumping 12 (2051): n. pag. Web. 12 Jan. 2064.

Printed article:

·         Bob, Carl. (2051). My fox. Log Jumping Quartely, 12, 123-125.

Web article:

·         Use either the DOI or (if there is no DOI) the URL

Printed article (first, then second, then full reference):

·         Carl Bob, “My Fox,” Log Jumping Quarterly 12 (2051): 123

·         Bob, “My Fox,” 123-25

·         Bob, Carl. “My Fox.” Log Jumping Quarterly 12 (2051): 123-25.

Web article:

·         Use a DOI or (if there is no DOI) the URL. Append to the end of how the entry appears for a printed article.

·         Only include an access date (before DOI/URL) if required by publisher or discipline.

Newspaper article This applies to magazine articles as well.

·         Bob, Carl. “My Fox.” Log Jumping 12 Jan. 2051: 123-125. Print.

·         Bob, Carl. (2051, January 12). My fox. Log Jumping, p. A4 First, second, full:

·         Carl Bob, “My Fox,” Log Jumping, January 12, 2051, 123.

·         Bob, “My Fox,” 125.

·         Bob, Carl. “My Fox.” Log Jumping, January 12, 2051.

Website Use as much of the following as is available. If you can’t find it, or it isn’t available, just include what you can.

·         Bob, Carl. “My Fox.” Log Jumping Online. Version or edition if available. Publisher or N.p. to designate no publisher, publication date or n.d. to mean no date. Web. 12 Jan. 2063

Include the author, title, and date the material was updated/posted online (whichever is most recent). If the page might be changed or moved, include the date of retrieval. Include the URL.

·         If there is no author, then just start with the title.

·         If there is no date, then put (n.d.)

·         Add a description of the source in square brackets after the title.

Example:

·         Group for Ethical Treatment of Foxes. (2063). Log jumping: Saving the foxes. Retrieved from http://www. (website)

Website citation can be simply mentioned in text (e.g., On DATE, the Group for Ethical Treatment of Foxes said on its website…).

If a formal citation is desired, it should look like (first, second, full):

·         “Saving Foxes,” Group for Ethical Treatment of Foxes, accessed January 12, 2063. http://www. (website)

·         “Saving Foxes.”

·         Group for Ethical Treatment of Foxes. “Saving Foxes.” Accessed January 12, 2063. http://www. (website)

You may also use a “last modified” date, rather than the “accessed” date.

TV or radio program ·         “The Fox Controversy.” Narr. George Darcy. Bree Discovery. BDC Television. 12 Jan. 2063. Television. TV or radio:

·         Darcy, George (Reporter). (2063, January 12). The Fox Controversy [Television series episode]. In Matt John (Producer), Bree Discovery. Bree, Shire: BDC Television.

Film:

·         John, Matt (Director). (2055). Foxes over Logs [Motion picture]. Shire: Bree Videos.

YouTube videos:

·         John, Matt. [username]. (2055, January 12). Fox and log lovers must watch [Video file]. Retrieved from http://www. (website)

First, second, full:

·         George Darcy, “The Fox Controversy,” Bree Discovery television episode, January 12, 2063.

·         George Darcy, “The Fox Controversy”.

·         Darcy, George. “The Fox Controversy.” Bree Discovery television episode, January 12, 2063. Bree: BDC Television.

Film, DVD, etc. Audio

·         Darcy, George. “My Lovely Fox.” Fox Music. Bree Recording, 2058. CD.

Visual

·         Foxes over Logs. Dir. Matt John. Perf. Carl Bob, and George Darcy. Bree Videos, 2055. DVD.

Musical composition ·         Darcy, George. Fox Symphony. Bree, Shire: Bree Recording, 2058. Print. ·         Darcy, George. (2058). Fox Symphony. Bree, Shire: Bree Recording. First, second, full:

·         George Darcy, “The Fox Jumps,” in Fox Symphony (Bree: Bree Recording, 2058): 123-25.

·         George Darcy, 123-25.

·         Darcy, George. “The Fox Jumps.” In Fox Symphony. Bree: Bree Recording, 2058: 123-25.

Artwork ·         John, Matt. Log Sweet Fox. 2053. Bree Art Museum, Bree.

In book:

·         John, Matt. Log Sweet Fox. 2053. Bree Art Museum, Bree. Famous Bree Painters. By George Darcy. Bree: Bree Publishing, 2058. 123.

·         John, Matt. (2053). Log sweet fox [Acrylic on canvas]. Bree Art Museum, Bree, Shire.

In book:

·         John, Matt. (2058). Log sweet fox [Acrylic on canvas]. Bree Art Museum, Bree, Shire. In George Darcy, Famous Bree painters (p. 123). Bree, Shire: Bree Publishing. (Original work 2053).

When possible, reference a work of art in its original language. Exception: when the art is commonly known by its English name, or by a nickname (e.g., Madonna of the Rocks by Leonardo Da Vinci)

If you have an illustration as part of your text, use a parenthetical reference at the end of the sentence with “(fig. #)” and include the “first” reference information with the illustration included in the text.

First, second, full:

·         Matt John, Log Sweet Fox, 2053. Acrylic on canvas. Bree Art Museum.

·         John, Log Sweet Fox.

·         John, Matt. Log Sweet Fox. Acrylic on canvas. Bree: Bree Art Museum, 2053.

Title page A cover page isn’t required for a research paper, but an instructor may require one anyway.

·         Double spaced, letters centered.

·         University/school name at top of page.

·         Title appears about one-third of the page down, followed by subtitle.

·         Skip several lines down for your name, your course name and number, your instructor’s name, and your paper’s due date.

If you use a cover page, then you do not need to have your title at the start of your paper (i.e., no heading required on page 1).

On the title page, make sure that your header is set to have a different first page (when using MS Word).

·         In the header, include “Running head: TITLE OF YOUR PAPER” next to the page number (on the right).

·         About one-third of the way down, have your paper’s title followed by your name, and then your university.

Note: proper APA style means that your paper starts with an Abstract (a brief summary of the paper). Followed by a few keywords.

If no title page is used, then the title appears centered on the first page.

·         Title is centered about one-third of the way down the page.

·         Several lines later have your name, your course name and number, your instructor’s name, and your paper’s due date.

Page numbers Page numbers appear top right with your last name beside the number.

·         Bob 123

Page numbers appear top right with the paper’s title (or an abbreviated title) in all caps beside the number.

·         YOUR TITLE 123

Page numbers appear at the top right, starting on the first page with text.
Bibliography, Works Cited, References Uses “Works Cited” (new page, end of text).

References appear alphabetically by author’s last name, or by the title if there is no author.

Uses “References” (new page, end of text).

References appear alphabetically by the author’s last name, or by the title if there is no author.

Use a “hanging margin” (first line is flush with the left with additional lines indented, for each entry)

Uses “Bibliography” (new page, end of text).

·         Single spaced.

·         Leave two spaces between “Bibliography” and first entry

·         Leave one space between each entry.

·         Use a “hanging margin”.

·         Entries are alphabetical.

Miscellaneous notes ·         No longer uses underlining. Titles are now italicized.

·         URLs are only cited if the audience is unlikely to be able to find the source otherwise.

·         All entries in the reference list must state what medium they’ve been published under (Print, Web, DVD, etc.)

·         Use “qtd. in” to indicate that the information was been quoted in another source.

o    John said “blah blah” (qtd. in Bob 123)

·         Uses Headers. These are not bolded or italicized. They are simply on their own line, and centered.

·         In-text references appear actually in the sentences, rather than at the end of a sentence.

·         The “running head” (title of your paper that appears beside the page number) should be either your entire title, or (if given a max number of characters –it was usually 30 for my classes) a concise and short version of the title.

·         Has up to five levels of headers, and for longer papers, it recommends to make use of them.

·         Block quotations, titles, figure captions, etc. are single-spaced rather than double.

Phew! That was a lot of information! Hopefully it all makes sense, and helps you decide which format you want to use, or helps you adhere to your format of choice.

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