Differences Between APA vs. MLA

To date, there are many citation styles, but students most often use MLA and APA. There are very often disputes around the two types, and sometimes students have difficulty distinguishing between the two formats. Both styles have existed for a long time.

Most students and researchers consider styles straightforward to use, but they are so similar that it is impossible to correctly do the task. Even though each school, college, the university is willingly encouraged to use MLA and APA styles, some students still do not like them. For this reason, we compiled a comparative characterization of MLA and APA.

If you are interested in two styles, you want to know what they mean, under what circumstances they are used, how to format headlines, colors, and an article for you. Our article collects only the most significant differences for each of the sections. You will learn the history of creation and which of the formats best suits your paper. If you need examples, we also provided them to you.

APA Style

Psychologists developed the style of APA to write sociological papers. Sociologists have developed this style to make it more convenient to create coursework, research reports, paper analyses, literary reviews, and methodological articles. Also, using the APA style makes it easier for scientists to study problems and questions in different fields of sciences.

APA Style Format

To create an APA-style paper, you must follow the following formatting rules:

  1. All text must be printed using a computer that uses different typing programs. At the time of writing, double spacing between lines must be set. The size of the interval must be set from the cover page to the list of sources used.
  2. You can use the font depending on your wishes. There are no special requirements. The American Association of Psychologists made only a recommendation. The recommendation says that the Times New Roman 12 size font is the best read.
  3. In the document, make paragraphs with an indentation of 1.27 cm from the left margin.
  4. The width of all fields must be aligned to a size of 2.54 cm.
  5. On each page, click the header. Put all the numbers on the pages without indents. The “DOCUMENT NAME” must be printed in the footer in the same way without indents, using capital letters.
  6. The header and footer cannot exceed 50 characters, so you must take this element into account when creating a title.
  7. The document contains the main elements: cover page, annotation, the text itself, list of used sources. The central part is inevitably divided into several sections. Such sections include introduction, methodology, results, discussion. You can call sections by the educational institution’s requirements, but the content must correspond to these headings.

Title Page

This part of the section includes the names of the document, the name of the writer, the institution’s name, the date of writing, and the header. The student needs to print the name using the capital letter. The name should be placed closer to the cent. Also, APA recommends writing a header without exceeding the limit of 12 words. 

All author data must be placed under the name. On the cover page, it is not recommended to indicate the degree if you are a scientist. If you are a student, then you need to indicate in which class you are studying. Organization or educational envy data must be located at the very end of the cover page.


The annotation must contain at least 150 words and at most 250 words. It must be written in one paragraph. Unlike other sections in the article, paragraph indentation is not required in the annotation’s first line. The line spacing in the annotation must be double, and the font is Times New Roman, 12 kegel. Fields – 1inch on all sides.

The heading should be placed in the upper left corner of each page. When numbering pages, you must adhere to placing numbers in the upper right corner of each page. Please note that it is not recommended to overshoot the name by more than 50 characters, as long names do not attract attention.

The annotation title must be placed in the center of the page, closer to the top. It is not recommended to use such tools as bold, italic, underline, quotation marks. The title should be understandable and not include unnecessary details.

When writing an annotation, note that APA recommends using two spaces after sentences that end in a period. However, sentences that end with other punctuation marks may be accompanied by one gap. APA recommends using verb forms in real pledge and past tense in annotation, but the present can describe conclusions and possible consequences. Abbreviations must specify in the annotation.


In the APA manual, it is indicated that you can use five levels of headers:

  1. First level. Here you need to write the title by cent, using bold font and using capital letters.
  2. Second level. You must write a title here without departing from the left field. Also, use bold and capital letters.
  3. Third level. Here you must write the title using bold. The first word must be written with a capital letter, all subsequent words with a small one. At the very end of the topic is a point.
  4. Fourth level. Here you need to write the title in bold, italic, and small letters. At the end of the whole topic, you need to put an end.
  5. Fifth level. Here you need to write the title using bold, italics and with a small letter. At the end of the topic, you need to make a point.

Quoting in the Text

The APA style involves using references every time a source is cited, whether it is a paraphrase, an inside-line quote, or a blockquote. The intra-text link contains information about: the author of the work, the editor, the compiler, the cited source’s name, the year of publication, and the page interval. A page interval can not indicate if it is not a quote, but some ideas or links to the work as a whole are expressed.

Citation Guidelines:

  1. Paraphrase is not accepted in quotation marks. The author’s surname may appear: in the sentence itself, then after it, the year of publishing is indicated in parentheses after paraphrases along with the year of publication. Details of the source will be on the list of references used.
  2. The quotation within the string is taken as quotation marks. The author’s surname may appear: in the sentence itself, then the publication year is indicated in parentheses after it. After the quotation, a paging interval must indicate in parentheses. After the written quotation, in brackets, it is necessary to write the material and adhere to the interval between pages. More detailed information about this source can be found in the literature list.
  3. Blockquote. It is supplied in text from a new line with a paragraph for the entire quotation and is not accepted in quotation marks. Line spacing is double. After the quoted text, a dot is placed, and the source is indicated in parentheses.


The American Psychological Association strongly advises all writers not to use footnotes in their work, as this section will require additional costs. If, while writing a document, you have accumulated a lot of information that needs to be explained in detail, then you can use the footnotes section. The rules say that superscript footnote numbers appear after any punctuation except a dash.

If you use Microsoft Word or Google Docs programs when writing footnotes, there are several other programs. This means that you can make a footnote section, but it must be placed at the end of the document. Or you can post this section at the end of the work immediately after the last sentence. The title “Footnotes” should be centered at the very top of the page. Before writing the title, you need to indent from the field of five spaces.

List of Sources Used

At the end of each work, a complete list of sources used should be included. With them, users of the material can see which sources you used, evaluate and, if necessary, find them. All references specified in the material must be reflected in the list of sources.

Each source record must include the following data according to the APA standard:

  • name of the author of the material;
  • year of publication;
  • material name;
  • the location of the publication of the material.

For correct registration, at first, it is necessary to define the type of material to which you refer: article in the magazine, the book, chapter of the book, the website, the message in the blog. The design of the literature list depends on the type of work:

  1. References to the book, monograph, laws: author’s name, year of release, title, place of publication.
  2. Laws are not subject to copyright protection, and referring to them, in principle, it is necessary to use the same rules as with books without an author. Your task is to indicate the name of the law, the year of its writing, but you do not need to write the author, as most often there is no author in such documents. Article in the journal: name, the title of the article, name of the magazine, issue number, and paper pages.
  3. Newspaper article: name of the author, year of issue, the title of the article, name of the newspaper, date of publication of the article. The guide also provides a different spelling option. In this case, it is necessary to indicate the date when the newspaper was published. And the page number from which the quotation was taken is indicated at the end.
  4. Electronic sources obey the same rules as sources on paper. At the end of the record, it is simply necessary to reflect the date of viewing the source, its web address, or the digital object’s identifier, a unique identification code of electronic sources.
  5. Videos, podcasts, images. Audiovisual content on the Internet often does not have enough information about the authors or dates of creation. Add as many details as possible to the description—for example, author name, last update date, or view date. On YouTube, you can click on the user’s name who posted the video and view additional information about the author. In this way, you can specify a specific person or organization as the author.
  6. If you mention various programs or applications for smartphones, computer games in your materials, then in some cases, you need to refer to the software. It is not necessary to refer to the use of widespread software, but it should be mentioned, and, preferably, in parentheses indicate the version of the software used.

MLA Style

The MLA style was developed for the liberal arts students to format documents and cite sources correctly. The Association of Modern Languages developed it. The MLA’s academic style is most often used by students of humanitarian colleges and universities in Canada and the USA. Also, students from other countries use the MLA style to write documents such as an essay in English, essay in English literature, comparative analysis, literary criticism, term paper, dissertation. 

Today there are seven editions. In March 2009, the style creators published their latest guide, intended for high school students, colleges, university teachers, and their students. Also, the creators of the style, from time to time, publish examples of how to design each section. Let’s get together and look at the rules for the design of all sections.

MLA Style Format

For the MLA style, the developers put forward the following rules:

  1. The text must be printed using text set programs. Work should be printed on standard white paper size 8.5 x 11 inches.
  2. Distance between rows must be framed in a double interval. The developers of the MLA style recommend using an easy-to-read font. Such fonts include Times New Roman or Calibri. It is also worth noting that you need to separate the usual font and italics no matter which font you choose. The font size must correspond to 12 points. If you select less, make a big mistake.
  3. When writing a sentence, you must adhere to the correct arrangement of the characters. If you use someone, then there should be a gap after it. When you make a point at the end of the sentence, there should also be a gap.
  4. The width of the fields must be equal to 2.54 cm.
  5. Indentation must be 1.27 cm. To adhere to the correct indentation location, we recommended using the Tab key.
  6. It would help if you numbed the pages in the upper right corner. Sometimes educational envies put forward their own rules for the design of numbering, so specify them.

Title Page

The MLA presentation sheet must comply with the following rules:

  1. It should go with double space and centered letters.
  2. Specify the name of the university or institution at the top of the page.
  3. The title and subtitle are written approximately one-third of the sheet size.
  4. The student name, course and section name, teacher name, and document creation date are listed at the sheet’s bottom.

Section Headings

To improve the text’s readability, the MLA style allows the use of titles for individual headings. Headings can contain chapters or other sections at the discretion of the author. The MLA style also has five levels of headings:

  • Level 1: the heading must be written in bold, without left indentation;
  • Level 2: the heading should be written in italics, without left indentation;
  • Level 3: the heading should be centered, bold;
  • Level 4: the heading should be centered, italicized;
  • Level 5: the heading must be underlined, without indentation to the left.

Quoting in the Text

In the MLA format, the author of the material where the quote is taken must be indicated in a sentence. This technique helps the reader immediately find the material they need, instead of flipping through all the work and opening a list of originators. The source you use in the text must write according to this example: the author and the quote page. You need to write only the author’s surname and a page from the material. 

All the details will be superfluous, and you will violate the design rules. All additional information about the source should indicate in the section entitled “Used literature.” The author’s name, who wrote the material and quoted him, must be written in curly brackets at the end of the sentence.

List of Used Literature

If you have used citations from reputable sources, then the authors’ list must be indicated at the end of the document. There is a separate paragraph for the sources, and it is necessary to write in it only those you used. This section is entitled “Bibliography” or “Bibliography.” Changing the name is not allowed by the style rules. The list should provide the information needed to identify and locate each source.


Formatting style is very important for every type of paper. If you don’t know what style to choose, you should check your tutor’s requirements. Also, check the same works from your college or university. This will be the best answer. Use our guidelines to use MLA and APA style in an appropriate way!

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