Every academic assignment must contain correct citations. There are several citation styles, but the two most popular and commonly preferred by professors are MLA and APA.
These two formatting styles have differences, and specific guidelines that a student doesn’t follow when writing an academic paper often result in a poor grade. Besides, rules frequently change, which means a learner who wants to submit flawless essays must know the difference between MLA and APA.
Failure to understand APA vs MLA and follow the current citation guidelines can result in plagiarism, which, apart from causing poor performance, also affects a scholar’s credibility. According to recent research, lack of skills necessary to write accurate in-text citations and references, inconsistency in citing references, and lack of basic understating of citation styles are some of the problems most undergraduate students have to overcome to get good grades.
But how is APA different from MLA, and how do you know if you should use MLA or APA? Let’s uncover that in this comprehensive but simple-to-understand post.
What is MLA and APA?
MLA is an acronym for Modern Language Association, while APA stands for American Psychological Association. Both are styles for formatting academic papers, be it an essay, thesis, dissertation, or any other school assignment. Both styles function to give credit to sources cited in writing and provide a universal and uniformed format in both in-text citations and references.
So is MLA or APA easier? It depends on a student and how fast they have understood all the guidelines. Most people assume just because APA is applied in sciences, it’s more technical. But what may be considered easier for one student may not be for someone else.
However, understanding MLA vs APA and considering your discipline, instructor, and personal preference can help you present the contents of your paper in the best manner possible regardless of which formatting style you find easier.
Who Uses APA vs MLA?
One common question that college students ask is, “should I use MLA or APA?” It depends on your professor and discipline. Humanities often prefer MLA, while science courses tend to use APA.
But it’s always best to check with your professor or read assignment instructions to know the style that you’re expected to use. Besides, if you have a basic understanding of MLA vs APA format, you will always remain consistent regardless of the style you are using.
What Is the Difference Between APA and MLA?
While bot formatting style requires both in-text citation and a list of references, the first major difference is that the current APA edition is 7th while MLA is in its 9th edition. Listed below are major differences between APA vs. MLA citation.
For APA, the direct in-text quotation uses a comma to separate the author’s name, year, and page number. For MLA, you don’t list the year, and there is no comma separating the name and page number.
- APA: For example, (Davis, 2019m p.225)
- MLA: (Davis 225)
For indirect in-text quotations when using APA format, it’s not a must to add the page number, but in MLA, you have to include the page number in parenthesis. If the indirect quote you want to use is from a secondary source in the in-text citation, you have to cite the name of the author whose information you are reading and add qtd.
For example, if you are reading a book by Aron, who uses a quote from Davis that you want to include in your paper, according to MLA rules, you mention Aron in both in-text and works cited. For example, according to Davis, 30% of doctors refuse to perform euthanasia (qt. in Aron 21).
Two or More Authors
For two authors, in APA, the symbol & is used to separate the names, while in MLA, the word “and” is used. For three or more authors, the word et al. is used in both citation styles. Examples:
- APA two authors: (Davis & Aron, 2016, p. 73)
Three or more authors: (Davis et al., 2016, p. 73)
- MLA two authors: (Davis and Aron 73)
Three or more authors: (Davis et al. 73)
Sources at the End of the Paper
While both formatting styles require all sources mentioned in the essay to be listed on a separate page for APA, the word references are used while in MLA, it’s Work Cited. The order of citation in APA is chronological for works and alphabetic for authors. On the other hand, the order of citations in MLA is alphabetic for both works and authors.
While the title page is required in APA, it’s not the case in MLA. An academic paper that has to be formatted in APA does not require a running head. But if the professor wants your assignment to have one, keep the title short, not more than 50 characters, in all capital letters, and left-aligned.
The words “Running head” followed by a colon should be included on every page. For MLA, a header contains the last name, and the page number is right-aligned. Here are more formatting rules to help a student better understand the difference between MLA and APA citations.
- In MLA, it’s not mandatory to use headings or subheadings, while in the APA section, headings and subheadings are needed to organize the paper.
- For long quotes, MLA accepts 40 words or more but has to be indented one tab. In APA, if the quote is four lines, it should be blocked or indented two tabs.
- In APA, the first page is the title page and contains the title of the paper, the name of the student, and the academic institution. The information should be centered. On the other hand, in MLA, there is no title page, but on the upper left corner, you should add your first and last name, class, name of the professor, date.
Overall, the formats of MLA and APA are designed to help you avoid plagiarism, which results in a heavy penalty such as getting expelled from that institution. Therefore, if, after reading this post, you still have a problem citing correctly and want to avoid plagiarism at all costs, feel free to contact us. Our experts will craft a quality paper that helps you quickly grasp the difference between MLA and APA.