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APA VS MLA: Differences to Know About

APA VS MLA: Differences to Know About
cal LiveWebTutors cal 15 Jul, 2020

The world of academics is strictly based upon a number of stringent norms and regulations pertaining to the field of academic writing. A number of academic responsibilities revolve around the course tenure which starts from examinations to submitting high-quality assignments. Once you start your University tenure and writing assignments, you will soon come across formatting and citation styles for the purpose of documentation.

 Have you been going through citation styles while writing your academic paper? If yes, then you must have noticed the similarities between the two papers. Usually, there are three most common citation styles in America that include APA, MLA, and Chicago. The primary goal lies in offering proper citations while creating a unified paper structure system and avoiding plagiarism. When it comes to the most two common styles, APA and MLA, both of them are similar in their own style, however, does post a number of significant differences as well.

Difference between APA and MLA

The two styles surely have a few differences, and it is a must to enlist them for better understanding. If you have been wondering how these two prominent citation styles differ from one another, and how they are to be used differently, look no further.

History of APA

The APA style originated from American Psychology Association which was responsible for creating rules necessary for journal articles, books, and publications. Established in 1929, it was introduced as a means to aid authors to structuralize their assignments and generate a unique style of citation and references.

The primary idea was to offer a comprehensive text surrounding proper headlines and works cited. It was most commonly used across scientific projects, lab reports, and documents. The guidelines are in constant up gradation to avoid any kind of intolerant language. You can also make use of an APA referencing tool and save sufficient time in your day. If you are comparing the two distinct citation styles, you will understand that they are formatted a bit differently. Let us jump into details and understand the differences between the two prominent styles cited.

History of MLA

MLA is offered by the Modern Language Association, primarily for the purpose of literary research along with scientific search, however in the field of humanities. The primary difference is that MLA is commonly beneficial in the present tense of verbs. Both of these styles have one major difference. Whereas the first one is typically focused on author names, the latter usually is focused on the year of publications and reference books that comprises the new and most relevant ones.

Drawing a comparison between the two style formats:

One of the major determinants that can distinguish the two is the formats they choose for themselves. The format pertaining to in-text citations and bibliographic citations distinguishes one from the other. Drawing a comparison between the formatting styles will help students to understand the differences better.

  • While APA uses double spacing, MLA also uses double spacing
  • APA makes use of Times New Roman Font in the size 12 pt with 1” margins, and MLA also makes use of the same font style and margin.
  • The direct in-text citation of APA is Moran, 2017, p.16, while that of MLA is Moran 16;
  • The indirect in-text citation of APA is Moran 2017, and for MLA it is a controversial case (16).
  • While citing bibliography names, students following APA style need to state references, while in MLA style, students to state work cited.
  • The order of citations for the former style is followed in accordance with alphabetical order for authors, while is chronological for works, while in MLA style, it is alphabetical for both authors and also works.
  • While writing a header in APA style, students need to write the Title in capital letters and should be left aligned with wiring the page number as right aligned. On the other hand, while writing an MLA style, the last name of the students along with the page number should be right aligned.
  • The first page while following the APA style of citation should be used as a title page. On the other hand, while following an MLA style, students do not need to write any title page.
  • Lastly, in APA writing a heading/subheading is necessary and extremely compulsory. On the other hand, the MLA style is not recommended.

Use of Period

While MLA puts the period at the end of the cited entries, APA, on the other hand, does not have a period if the entry ends in either a DOI or an URL.


One of the primary differentiation points can be cited as the purpose of the two citation styles, or why they are used. While MLA is used mainly for analyzing, comparing, arguing, defining, discussing, explaining, evaluating, narrative, illustrating, tracing, showing a cause and effect, and other causes, however, APA is ideal for reporting original research and also for reviewing the literature that has been written prior pertaining to a research topic.

Subject matter

MLA is primarily used in the field of language, humanities and literature, art, and related subjects.

On the other hand, APA is mostly used in science subjects.

Author’s name:

While MLA uses the author’s name in a way in which the entire name is spelled out, however in APA, the last name is rather spelled out with the first name being written in initials.

Using Publication Date:

This might be a subtle difference to take note of; however, MLA includes the publication date near the end of a citation. However, APA views the publication date after the name of the author.

Title pages

MLA style does not need any standalone title page. You can just create a header and place it above the very first page. The header comprises the name of the writer, the name of an instructor, the information on the course, date of submission.

On the other hand, APA style needs a standalone title page where you need to place the title of the research paper, the name of the writer along with the name of the institution. While using the citation style, make sure you make use of a plagiarism checker.

Title of Source Pages

The source page of the MLA research paper needs to be titled ‘Works Cited. Alternatively, the source page of APA needs to be titled ‘References’.

Name on the page of the source

MLA format demands full names to be displayed on the MLA Works Cited Page. You have the liberty to use a middle initial. On the other hand, for APA the full last names can be displayed on the APA Reference Pages; however, the first middle initials are to be used.

Letter capitalisation

While citing MLA style, you need to put titles in the ‘Title case’ form. This is where you need to use capital letters at the beginning of a primary word. On the other hand, for APA reference pages, you need to write titles in ‘Sentence case’ form. Students need to capitalize the first word of a title, of a subtitle, and also any proper noun used. A paraphrasing tool can be beneficial to paraphrase content and avoid plagiarism in all manners.

In-text citations

The name and page number in MLA need to comprise the author’s last name along with the page number. On the other hand, for APA in-text citations, you need to write the author’s last name and state the year of publication along with the page number.

To summarize, we can say that the primary difference between these popular citation formats is the in-text citations and the ways in which the author names are expressed, additionally, the placement of the date differs as written on the source page. While MLA uses it after writing the name of the publisher, the APA style places it just after the author’s name in parenthesis.

Final Thoughts:

MLA and APA are similar; however, they have their own particular styles. Both of them make use of a reference page at the very end of a work while aligning entries to the left along with having a title at the center. However, what varies is the way in which the entries are formatted. It is important to follow the instructions of the teachers and the style you are asked to use while writing the paper. If you are looking for professional assistance with essay writing help, you need to get in touch with professional academic experts.

Professional Guidance to understand the differences better:

Knowing the difference between the two styles is extremely important to use both of them in their own distinctive paper or course. If you have trouble understanding the style of citation and their difference, you can seek professional support from, the pioneer in the field of academic assistance. These services will help students to grab a deeper understanding of the two citation styles and their differences which will be highly beneficial for enunciating a distinguished assignment. Grab the opportunity to acquire professional online assignment help from the best in the business.

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