Difference Between MLA and Chicago (With Table)

A Citation is a reference that is mentioned in an intellectual piece of work about the source of information used in it. The main purpose of using citations is to avoid plagiarism and to provide validity and strength to the information is used by the author. Citations are used in Books, Journals, Newspapers, Websites, Roleplays, Poems and Interviews.

There is a specific format or way to write citations. Various citation styles are introduced to ensure a proper format to the citation. Every style has an inbuilt set of rules and conventions for writing citations.

A citation style is chosen according to the discipline, author, publisher, or reader. Some of the commonly used styles are Modern Language Association (MLA), American Psychological Association (APA), and Chicago.

Coming to the MLA and the Chicago citation styles, these are two of the most preferred styles of writing citations by Colleges, Professors or Instructors. There are some similarities between the two citation styles. Both MLA and Chicago styles contain an equal size of the margin on all sides of a page and even the font type and size are the same.

MLA vs Chicago

The difference between MLA and Chicago is that the MLA style is preferred in English subjects, whereas, the Chicago style is preferred in History and Humanities.

Comparison Table Between MLA and Chicago

Parameter of ComparisonMLAChicago
Discipline MLA style is used in English or literature related papers. Whereas, Chicago style is used in History and Humanities.
Title pageIt does not need a title page. A title page is necessary.
Citation style Footnotes are not used for the citations. Citations are mentioned in footnotes at the page end.
HeadingThere should be double space between one section end and the heading. Heading should be written on the left corner and should be on a new line.
Thesis statementIn MLA, the thesis statement should acknowledge the title of the topic. There is no thesis statement required in Chicago.
Bibliography The bibliography is mentioned on a new page. A separate bibliography is not required. It can be mentioned at the end of the page.

What is MLA?

The MLA citation style contains in-text citations that direct towards the source of information used. It follows the Modern Language Association Handbook. The handbook works as a guide for creating MLA citations.

The latest edition of the handbook has brought a standard format for all types of sources. This helps in saving time and as a result, allows the scholars to focus more on their research instead of this. Another update in the handbook includes the addition of containers, which basically provides the location of the source.

MLA style is used for writing papers for English or literature related topics. To start with, there is an inch margin line on all sides of the page. The student’s name, subject code and date of submission is mentioned on the left side of the first page.

There is no need for a separate title page. The Author’s last name and the page number is mentioned in parenthesis. The bibliography is provided on a new page. Also, there is a Works Cited page where a complete reference of the source is listed.

The works cited page must be arranged alphabetically along with full information about the cited sources. This contains all the quotations, title, containers or summaries. The Author’s name is mentioned first.

Then comes the Title of the source which should be within “quotation marks” (in case of a substantial work), or in Italics (if the work is independent). And at last, Title of container, Name of editors/translators, Number of the book, Volume, Publisher, Publication Date, Location and Optional elements of the work is mentioned one after the other.

What is Chicago?

The Chicago citation style is used to structure written works and references of information sources used. It focuses on the Chicago Style Manual (CMOS) which acts as a guideline for styling, quoting, proofreading and editing. It is used for creating novels, stories, blogs of a variety of genres and formats.

Chicago style is based on Turabian’s structure of citations but slightly differs from it. There are two types of formats used in Chicago style, the “Notes and Bibliography” and the “Author-Date”.

Notes and Bibliography format is preferred for writing History and Humanities based papers, whereas, the Author-Date is preferred for social sciences and science papers.

After the preferred format is chosen, an inch margin line is constructed on all sides of the page. Then the title page containing the student’s name, subject code, topic name etc. is created.

Author-Date uses in-text citations and bibliography, while Notes and Bibliography uses footnotes in which bibliography and citations are maintained at the end of the page.

The manual that is followed contains all types of editorial styles, punctuations to be used, quotations, table formatting. However, the latest edition has revised some of the styles and citation formats. It is very important to remain up-to-date with the manual.

Main Differences Between MLA and Chicago

  1. MLA is used in English, while Chicago is used in History and Humanities.
  2. A title page is needed in Chicago, but not in MLA.
  3. Footnotes for citations are used in Chicago, but not in MLA.
  4. In MLA, the thesis statement is important, while Chicago does not need one.
  5. The bibliography is mentioned on a new page in MLA, whereas, in Chicago, it is mentioned at the page end.


Both MLA and Chicago citations are commonly used worldwide to provide consistency to research works. When properly cited, these styles eliminate any chance of plagiarism and provide the work with a flash of authenticity.

While both of them are equally accepted and preferred for various writings, some specific papers need a specific style. MLA and Chicago have unique formats of their own which make them perfect for a specific subject or discipline.

Moreover, with distinct formats and styles, both MLA and Chicago ensure a continuous flow to the written work which in turn, complements the overall them of the work.


  1. https://www.okanagan.bc.ca/sites/default/files/2020-03/mla_citation_style.pdf
  2. https://books.google.co.in/books?hl=en&lr=&id=fqkgAgAAQBAJ&oi=fnd&pg=PR5&dq=info:-MHUcz3IUjcJ:scholar.google.com/&ots=lHDrmzbiFt&sig=rQeBHjsZabZf1pMYZAz3iGEEE-M&redir_esc=y#v=onepage&q&f=false
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