Differences Between APA Vs. MLA: When to Use Each?

Differences Between APA Vs. MLA: When to Use Each?

APA and MLA are the two most commonly used citation styles in academic writing. 

American Psychological Association (APA) is widely used in social sciences, and Modern Language Association (MLA) is used in the Humanities. 

This is the main difference between APA and MLA styles. 

MLA definition

The Modern Language Association created the MLA formatting style to give students, researchers, and journal publishers who work in literature and language a uniform manner to cite sources, set up research papers, and present their findings.

Most often, students are assigned to write research papers in MLA format. Some students struggle to write essay in this style.

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APA definition

The APA style was created in 1929 by the American Psychological Association and established guidelines for books, pamphlets, and journal articles. 

The APA style creates a distinctive style of references and citations while assisting writers in organizing their work in the behavioral and social sciences.

APA Vs. MLA Format

The MLA style is used in Literature, Arts, and Humanities. It is used to cite sources of paintings, books, and multimedia projects. 

On the other hand, the APA style is used for social sciences and technical writing. 

One of the primary differences between MLA and APA is the format of bibliographic and in-text citations.

The general formatting requirements for APA and MLA are the same. Both styles imply:
  • 1-inch margins double spaced
  • Times New Roman (12 pt format)
APA and MLA differ in the title page, running head, and block quotation guidelines. 

Title page and the header

In APA, a separate cover page is necessary. It is double-spaced, centered, and includes the following information: 
  • Title of your paper
  • Your full name
  • Your institution & department
  • The course for which the paper was written
  • The due date
  • Your instructor's name 
MLA does not require a title page. On the first page, you have to insert a four-line header in place of the title page.
  • Your full name
  • Professor's name
  • Course title or number
  • Due date

Runner's head

At the top of each page, you have to use an APA style page number that is aligned to the right. 

Manuscripts that will be submitted for publication should also have an APA running head with a condensed form of the paper's title, all in capital letters and aligned to the left. 

However, the running head is optional for students' papers.

Which style, APA or MLA, is better?

Which of these two formatting styles is better?

Everything is based on the application case! 

When working with fictional literature, MLA is recommended since in-text citations explicitly link to the information by stating the specific page. 

APA in-text citations seem more appropriate when working with brief publications.

How to cite efficiently?

Here's how to give credit in each of these styles:

APA style

Many Canadian universities require students to use this style when citing sources in written work. 

The APA style is usually used to give credit to sources by people who work in education, psychology, and science. In order to cite in APA style, follow these steps:

  • After the last name of the author, put a comma.
  • If you know them, put a period after the author's first and middle initials.
  • Put the published year in an open parenthesis.
  • After the year of publication, put a close parenthesis and a period.
  • Put a full stop after the title of the article.
  • Italicize the journal's name where the article is published, and then put a comma after it.
  • Italicize the volume number, then put an open parenthesis after it.
  • Write the issue number after the open parenthesis.
  • Put a comma at the end of the parentheses.
  • Enter the range of pages where the information you want to cite is found, like pages 346-370.
  • Add the digital object identifier (DOI) or uniform resource locator (URL) after the period to finish the citation (URL). A URL is the web address, while a DOI is a unique string of numbers, letters, and symbols that identifies an article.
  • The last name and initials of the author are used as templates. (Year). Title of the article. Name of the journal, volume, and how many pages there are. DOR vs. URL

MLA style

In order to cite in MLA style, follow these steps:

  • After the last name of the author, put a comma.
  • Put a period after the first name of the author.
  • Put a quotation mark after the title of the article.
  • Add a full stop and then the quotation marks.
  • Write the journal's name that contains the article in italics, then put a comma after it.
  • Write "vol." and then the number of the volume.
  • After the number, there should be a comma.
  • After a comma, write the month and year the journal article was published.
  • Write "pp." and then the range of pages where the information you want to cite is found.
  • Put a comma in between and then the DOI or URL.
  • At the end of the citation, put a period.
  • Last name of the author, first name of the author. "The article's title." The name of the journal.

Final Words 

Communication is important in the academic world. These are the two most commonly used citation styles in the academic field: APA & MLA.

Knowing how to cite your sources in different formats and styles is essential. 

The more you learn about these styles; the more credible your papers will be.

This will help you reach higher academic and professional goals.
Best of luck!

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