MLA, APA – what do these letters mean? Chicago’s a city, right?

The Modern Languages Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), and Chicago Manual of Style (CMS) are the 3 referencing styles used at Virtual High School. Each subject has a required style that should be used to properly cite the research used in your assignments.

So, where does the period go?

With all referencing styles, the goal is the same: to give credit to the original sources and authors. The main differences, however, lie in the particular details: in what order, where, and when they are provided. Here’s a comparison of those three styles, using a novel as an example:


Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 1960. Print.


Lee, H. (1960). To kill a mockingbird. New York, NY: Grand Central Publishing.


Lee, Harper. To Kill a Mockingbird. New York: Grand Central Publishing, 1960.

Notice the differences in punctuation, the location of the date, the use of first initial rather than the full first name, and the inclusion or exclusion of the publishing medium.  These styles also differ in how they provide the full references of sources. All three styles require a separate page at the end of your assignment, but each has a different title and formatting specifics. MLA uses Works Cited as its title, APA requires the title, References, and CMS names its page Bibliography.

If you have questions about a referencing style, review the examples in your course, and contact your teacher. Always take time to do a complete a review of your referencing formatting so you do not lose marks for something like the placement of a period.

In our next post, we will define what Virtual High School considers unauthorized group work and discuss how planning ahead in your coursework will help you avoid academic misconduct.



Caitlin Carr is the English, French, and ESL Department Head at Virtual High School. She has been working in education for six years and is passionate about providing equitable learning opportunities for all students. She enjoys creating media projects to engage students in conversations about complex topics such as Academic Integrity.




Jessica Bickell has spent the majority of her time as an educator in the online space, and currently works for VHS as the Vice Principal. When she isn’t busy signing report cards, she enjoys working with the departments and multimedia team to create instructional videos. In her time off, she likes to stay active, travel the world, and play with her nieces and nephews.