Citing in Nursing Papers: APA and MLA Demystified

Writing a nursing paper is tough. Citing one is even tougher than understanding difficult medical jargon and coming up with appropriate words. Citation style guides students on how to format their paper according to that specific formatting system. Even with all the information and nursing paper writing guides available online, this topic still isn’t a piece of cake for the masses.

If you’re having goosebumps, don’t worry! Our professional writers are here to fix this academic issue. We will discuss the complexities surrounding APA and MLA format. By the time you reach the end, most of you will be academic writing experts. So, without further ado, let’s get moving!

Citing Sources in Nursing Papers in APA and MLA Format

Nursing papers are typically cited in APA and MLA format. Students must understand what are the requirements of both formats. Here, we will let you have a sneak peek at these styles. Let’s look closely and investigate the differences between both formats and how you can use them in your nursing paper.


MLA (Modern Language Association) is a citation format that’s widely used for arts and humanities. It’s also used for literature and topics related to linguistics and patient management. Other prominent subjects, such as theology, ethics, performing arts, such as dance and script writing, film production, and painting, also use this style. There are many differences between MLA and other citation styles, such as APA, AMA, and Chicago / Turabian.

APA (American Psychological Association) is a citation style that’s the number one choice of students around the world. This format is a gold standard in subjects related to psychology, social sciences, business intelligence, and internal medicine nursing students. Educational sciences and practices, anthropology, and basic scientific research also use this format. It was developed by a team of psychologists in 1892. Many patients and clinical trials conducted in the world have used this format. Some of the prominent medical investigations, including the ADVANCE Trial, had used it in the early 90s.

How To Use MLA and APA Formats for Citing in Nursing Papers?

Nursing papers can be formatted in MLA (Modern Language Association) or APA (American Psychological Association). Typically, medical colleges require students to follow the AMA (American Medical Association) guidelines. On the other hand, students can be asked to follow the MLA (Modern Language Association) format.

Here, we will discuss how you can style different parts of your paper in both MLA and APA format. For citing in nursing papers, you may use the following styles and techniques for various types.

In-Text Citation of Nursing Assignment in APA and MLA

In-text citation deals with writing a source from which a student has taken information into their content. By using this method, students can cite sources in any sentence of a paragraph without going through the need to provide details at the end of the page.

When we talk about in-text citations, both MLA (Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association) have different styles. There are some similarities, but students can easily identify the format by its styling in the content. MLA (Modern Language Association) offers simplicity and only allows the author’s last name and page number where the source is taken from.

Here is a mock example of MLA format in a nursing assignment:

“Cardiovascular patients are at risk of developing hypertension if appropriate medication is not started within two to three years of diagnosis.” (Unger 23).

On the other hand, APA (American Psychological Association) offers details or comprehensive information. In APA style, students must mention the author’s last name, the year when the study or source was published, and the page number used for the citation source. Look at the same example in APA format for a better understanding of the concept.

“Cardiovascular patients are at risk of developing hypertension if appropriate medication is not started within two to three years of diagnosis.” (Unger et al.,2020, p.23).

If you want to cite a source that’s neither a book nor a journal, such as a movie scene, documentary, or interview, you can use the time stamp technique. For such instances, both MLA and APA can cite the source but according to their designated principles. 

A mock example of MLA timestamp dialogue from a season is mentioned below:

“If Something is beautiful, it deserves to be seen by someone worthy of its beauty.” (“Gossip Girl” 17:10).

You may cite your video sources in APA by looking at the mock example below:

“If Something is beautiful, it deserves to be seen by someone worthy of its beauty.” (Gossip Girl, 2008, 17:10).

MLA and APA formats both require timestamps as an essential reference point to which you can cite or mention your sources. For using any type of documentary or video reference, students can follow the examples presented by our experts.

MLA and APA Citing in Nursing Papers: Making a Bibliography

In medical and academic writing, a bibliography contains a list of sources that you’ve used in your nursing assignments. This includes footnotes, endnotes, and the entire research’s data gathered through online blogs, reading books, scholarly articles, etc.

Both MLA and APA have different standards when it comes to making a bibliography. In APA format of styling, the bibliography page is known as the “Reference Page.” On the other hand, when using MLA format, it’s called “Works Cited Page.”

Secondly, APA and MLA formats both have different positions on the author’s name and its placement. In the MLA works cited page, it’s mandatory to mention the author’s full name. On the other hand, APA mentions the last name, but the first name is abbreviated.

Just to give you an idea of how you can mention full citation sources in a bibliography, here we presented an example. For this purpose, we have chosen Dan Brown’s Book “Inferno”. So, you can create a bibliography by following this example.

MLA Format Bibliography:

Brown, Dan. Inferno. Doubleday, 2013.

APA Format Bibliography:

Brown, D. (2013). Inferno. Doubleday.

Both formats are quite different from each other at first glance. MLA format bibliography places the publishing year at the end. In contrast, APA emphasizes the publication year and adds parentheses due to its importance. There are a few important rules that you must adhere to when making a bibliography in either MLA or APA format. These rules are the following:

  • All the entries on the works cited page or reference page must be in alphabetical order, and the name of the author should be mentioned by last name.
  • The page title should be center-aligned for both APA and MLA bibliography sections.
  • The entire section should consist of double-spaced text to enhance its clarity and compliance for readers.

Citing Sources in Nursing Papers: MLA vs APA Style and Format

Besides the in-text citation and bibliography, both MLA and APA have many small but subtle differences. Nursing students must remember these differences so that they can recognize them or use them in their assignments.

Nursing Paper Style in APA and MLA

The paper style in both formats follows the same protocols as instructed by the educational institutes. The use of a formal tone and professional language is recommended throughout the assignment’s content. Students cannot use contractions, funky words, or slang that might give a different meaning to readers.

Secondly, both of these formats require a title case for the topic’s headings. The differences appear more prominent when students need to write numbers in the paragraphs. In APA style paper, all the numbers from 0-9 are spelled, and any number above 10 is written in numerical form.

On the contrary, the MLA style dictates the use of spellings for numbers that can be written in two words. For example, if you need to write 10,000, you must spell them in two words, such as ten thousand. Any number that needs three or more words must be written in numerical form, like 512.

Citing in Nursing Papers: Title Page and Paper Format

The title page is a requirement of APA paper format, and students must make it by following precise instructions. In MLA format, the title page is only optional. If your professor instructs you, then you can create it.

APA style title page example can be followed by the example below:

JNC 10 (Joint National Congress) Guidelines for Hypertensive Patients
School/College Name: Allied School of Nursing and Patient Care
Course No: JD789146X
Instructor Name: Christian Grey
Date: 10/04/2021

In APA, the first page must be the title page, whereas in MLA, you can write the details mentioned above before the starting first paragraph. 

Students can use formatting for footnotes and endnotes according to the requirements of the chosen style. In MLA and APA format, students must use in-text citations in parentheses in both footnotes and endnotes. Although APA style only allows the use of footnotes for content and to mention copyright. On the other hand, MLA offers flexibility in adding all types of relevant information that helps the readers.

The last page format style uses running heads that show the page number and topic name at the top of the page. For creating a running head in MLA and APA, students must remember to follow the steps given below:

  • Page size must be 8.5”x11 inch. 
  • A 1-inch margin must be given on all four corners of the page
  • Use double space throughout the content
  • The font must be Arial or Times New Roman 
  • Font size can be selected between 11 to 12 point


Medical students can use the blog’s information for citing in nursing papers. These steps will be helpful for them to understand the requirements of their assignments. Following appropriate guidelines helps medical students to cite sources in nursing papers.

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