MLA 8th Edition: usage guide

Books showing researchModern Language Association has laid quite a few rules for language usage and organization that includes using many things accurately. In this post, I am going to cover some of the most basic but often misused features within punctuation hoping that this post will come handy to you to save time for you stress without unnecessary stress.


  • Like the APA, MLA also requires to use space just once after a punctuation mark.
  • There is exception in that some instructors may require using two spaces after period, etc. to which MLA is open



  • Period is NOT needed in abbreviations consisting capital letters: FDA, MLA
  • Period is needed when abbreviating a name W. E. Smith.
  • For lowercase abbreviations, a period is NEEDED at the end: conf., vs., Eng., esp., etc.
  • Some common but notable expressions used without space: a.m., e.g., i.e.



  • The use of comma for two independent clauses are the same as that of APA (in fact it is the standard)
  • To separate a list of items before the conjunctions AND, OR, and BUT: mangoes, peaches, and apples
  • It’s almost the same as APA


  • The rules for using quotes are just the same as that of the APA

There are plenty of other differences that are minute and are particularly visible in the use of words, structure, and other aspects of language. We intend to cover those subtle differences if our readers’ feedback is such.

Usually, a student is dealing with either the APA or the MLA (or any other style) because of the disciple of study they are in. Thus, it is a distant shot to draw a comparative analysis between these two styles. It would simply take the focus of our writing away from editing and proofreading into theoretical language use. We would not want to do that.

However, just to remind you, the differences between these two styles in the in-text citation and the Works Cited/References sections are given below


Book (The same book is used here)


APA: (Auclair-Ouellet, Lieberman, & Monchi, 2017)

MLA: (Auclair-Ouellet et al.)


Did you notice that more than two authors in MLA is abbreviated with the Latin et al. (and colleagues) and no year is entered?


References (APA)/Works Cites (MLA)

APA: Auclair-Ouellet, N., Lieberman, P., & Monchi, O. (2017). Contribution of language studies to the understanding of cognitive impairment and its progression over time in Parkinson’s disease. Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews.

MLA: Auclair-Ouellet, Noémie, et al. “Contribution of Language Studies to the Understanding of Cognitive Impairment and Its Progression over Time in Parkinson’s Disease.” Neuroscience & Biobehavioral Reviews, 2017.


Journal article (the same)


APA: (Grenfell et al., 2013)

MLA: (Grenfell et al.)


References (APA)/Works Cites (MLA)

APA: Grenfell, M., Bloome, D., Hardy, C., Pahl, K., Rowsell, J., & Street, B. V. (2013). Language, ethnography, and education: Bridging new literacy studies and Bourdieu. Routledge.

MLA: Grenfell, Michael, et al. Language, Ethnography, and Education: Bridging New Literacy Studies and Bourdieu. Routledge, 2013.


We are very hopeful that our painstaking comparative analysis of the two major citation systems would add meaningful knowledge to your repertoire. Should you be needing any further assistance, please do not hesitate to reach us. We’d be happy to response.