How to Change Works Cited From MLA to APA

MLA and APA represent two of the most common documentation styles used in writing papers. MLA style is often used in papers focusing on language and the humanities, while APA is used in social sciences, business and nursing. According to the "MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers" (7th edition), APA emphasizes currency of information more strongly than MLA, so the references format differs.


Book entries have several similarities in MLA and APA formats. As illustrated in the "Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association" (6th edition), you should move the year of publication to immediately after the author's name and put it in parentheses, rather than including it toward the end of the entry, as in MLA format. APA leaves out the publication medium and gives only the initial for the author's first name. For example, an MLA book entry looks like this:

Jones, Jana. Choices (italicized). New York: Penguin, 2012. Print.

The same entry in APA looks like this:

Jones, J. (2012). Choices (italicized). New York: Penguin.


The order of ideas also changes for periodicals, such as journals and newspapers. The date appears immediately after the author, and only the author's first initial is given rather than the whole name. You should add a comma after the periodical name and put the issue number, if it has one, in parentheses. The volume number appears in italics. The colon between the volume/issue and pages changes to a comma in APA style, and the publication medium is not included in APA. An MLA entry looks like this:

Jones, Jana. "Studying Choices." Journal of Education (italicized) 11.3 (2012): 22-25. Print.

The entry changes to this in APA:

Jones, J. (2012). "Studying Choices." Journal of Education, 11 (italicized) (3), 22-25.


As of the 7th edition, the MLA handbook no longer includes URLs in Works Cited entries. APA, however, requires a digital object identifier or URL for Web sources. You should write this information at the end of the entry, writing either "doi:" (without the quotation marks) and then the identifier or "Retrieved from" (without the quotation marks) and then the Web address of the specific page. You should not add a period at the end of these entries.


The title of the page changes from Works Cited in MLA format to References in APA format. You must change the header as well. APA does not use your name on the pages, since such works may be read blind. Instead, APA headings include the title of the paper in case pages get separated. The running head uses your title, left-justified in the head, in all capital letters, and the page number, right-justified. Remember also to change the format of the in-text citations throughout the paper. Instead of author's last name and a page number as in MLA -- (Smith 100) -- APA gives the last name and date with a comma between -- (Smith, 2010).