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Started April 27, 2012 - 12:09 PM


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MLA, APA and Chicago Manual Style

What is the difference between MLA, APA and Chicago Manual Style? Are there certain instances that these should be used?

#2 dblandon Replied April 27, 2012 - 02:05 PM



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MLA, APA, and the Chicago Citation Style are all style guides intended for use in research papers. The purpose of a style guide is to standardize formatting and style used in a document. Each of the common style guides has different guidelines when it comes to article preparation. MLA was created in 1985, and is used mostly in academic papers in high school and undergraduate universities.

The American Psychological Association's style differs from MLA in its handling of citations, and is primarily used for research papers in the field of psychology. It is notable for its specific instructions to reduce bias in writing about gender, race, and other areas where discrimination is possible.

The Chicago Manual of Style has been around since 1906, and has been continually updated into the modern age. It is used primarily in historical journals and some other social sciences, due to its relative consistency since its inception.

I hope that rundown helps!

#3 sh0dge Replied April 30, 2012 - 03:17 PM


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Many editing jobs prefer that you have knowledge of multiple style guides, so if you're interested in a future in professional editing it's a good idea to become familiar with more than one usage style.

It's true that one of the major differences between the different style guides you mentioned (APA, MLA, and Chicago) has to do with how sources are cited. Here's more information about why the citation styles differ, which I hope will help you choose the one that's ideal for your work.

The citation format helps readers quickly reference the most important information about the source you're using; from one academic discipline to another, the focus of the citation will vary in accordance with how that field values information.

For example, MLA is particularly dominant as a citation format in the humanities, because the way you use it to cite a source highlights the source's author, and the page on which they wrote the statement you're referring to. This makes it easy for one of your readers to check the original quotation, and see how that author influenced your thinking.

By contrast, APA citations, which are dominant in the social sciences, bring focus to the year the source was published. This helps readers understand whether the research study you're citing is current and recent, or an arcane example of an "earlier theory" which has been debunked.

Chicago style is more dependent on footnotes, which makes it ideal for historical topics, because you will often be citing multiple sources in quick succession along the way as you write, so lean and uncluttered citations are important to keep the reader engaged with the momentum of your ideas.

#4 Kris Replied May 11, 2012 - 09:51 AM


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Since your question was answered correctly enough, I have nothing to add to the definitions. I will, however, tell you that most companies have one specific style they refer to, so you would be best served to follow the guidelines from your editors.

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