Cathy A.
Cathy A.

Key Differences of APA vs. MLA Styles with Examples

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Published on: Jun 14, 2020

Last updated on: Jan 20, 2023


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When you are writing your paper, you need to explain what research you did. You will also want to explain why your argument is true. It is important to use the correct format for referencing in APA or MLA papers.

They are not the same, but they each have guidelines that tell you how to cite sources and other things like that.

Learning about this APA vs. MLA citation styles will help you understand the differences between them. Teachers will assign you writing assignments from essays to research papers, so it is important to know how to use them. The citation style you use depends on what type of work it is and who your audience is.

A good paper needs research, strong arguments, and references that support your idea. For example, when formatting the paper and citing the references in your APA or MLA paper, you will follow the rules of these two most popular formats: APA vs. MLA.

Keep on reading the blog to know the major differences between MLA and APA.

Standard Guidelines of APA versus MLA

APA style started with the American Psychological Association. This style has some standards for diaries, articles, books, and other things. It helps organize your work and add references in a way that is easy to read.

APA organizing is not the same as different configurations. From the paper design to the references, you should give close consideration to each and every detail.

For additional subtleties, you can also look at our total aide of APA design. There are models that will help you with writing a successful paper in APA design.

APA Includes

  • All lines are to be double spaced.
  • 12 Times New Roman.
  • For all edges the margin is one inch.
  • A number on the upper right corner of each page + short work title.
  • Footnotes to be twofold spaced.
  • Reference list in the bibliography.
  • In-text references to show the creator's name, distribution year, page number.
  • The summarized thought with the name of the creator and year in the parenthesis.
  • The creators' names ought to be in a sequential work request in the references list.
  • The name of the creators ought to be added as the last name originally followed by the initials of the main name.
  • The title is centered.
  • Include abstracts for extensive papers.

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MLA Includes

MLA style came from the Modern Languages Association to help people research literature and humanities. MLA centers around references and how you do your work.

It has the following standards:

  • All lines are to be twofold spaced.
  • 12 Times New Roman.
  • For all edges the margin is one inch.
  • A bibliographical rundown of works for writers and works - follow the sequential order.
  • Direct references have just a name and page without a comma.
  • Indirect references have a solitary page.
  • No additional line-break in the middle of citations.
  • Page number alongside the name of the writer on the upper right corner.
  • Titles for articles in quotes.

If you have decided to follow the MLA format, then you should read our detailed guide. It will help you with all the major points of MLA formatting and reference.

Major Differences of MLA vs. APA

Following are all the points that explain how the MLA vs. APA format is different:


Title PageStudent name, name of institute, course name, and deadline.
HeadingRunning head with a short paper title and the page number.The header on the first page of the paper with the above-mentioned details.
For Editors and AuthorsThe APA format includes the author, editor, as well as compiler’s name in the list of references.Authors, editors, and compilers are cited in the parenthetical citations, while their entire descriptions will be added right in the list of works cited.
BibliographyThe reference list in APA style follows an alphabetical order by author name after work that follows a chronological order.The entries in MLA citation follow an alphabetical order by the name of the author, followed by the title.
Multiple Work - Same AuthorList the works in a chronological manner with the most recently dated work first.The first listing with author’s name, the remaining entries begin from three hyphens, a period then space, and title name ending with a period
Articles TitlesAPA does not contain articles in quotation marks, and the first word is capitalized only.In MLA format, titles should be added in the quotation marks and capitalize the first letters of each word.
CitationJohn, C. D., & Helen, L. F. (2007). The race between education and technology. Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.Christian, Stephan. Guide to Literary and Critical Theory. Purdue U, 28 Nov. 2001, Accessed 10 May 2007.
Intext CitationIn APA pattern: (Name, Year, page number) such as (Kristine, 1991, p. 50).In-text parenthesis is used to cite the work. (Name page number ) such as (Kristine 50)

When to Use APA vs. MLA?

Here are brief points to know which format is best to choose when:

  • APA is used when writing about social sciences. MLA is for literary studies. If you are studying fiction, use MLA because it allows for more details to be added to the paper with references.
  • If you are writing short publications such as academic or journal articles then it is better for you to use MLA. APA in-text citations seem more appropriate to use because it helps us to easily track the research chronology. Unlike MLA format, writers do not need to add the details with the reference list.

There are also different editions like the 7th edition for different books, journals, and other paper citations.

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APA vs MLA Format Examples

Here are the PDF examples for your consideration to understand better.

APA vs. MLA Annotated Bibliography

An annotated bibliography is different from a regular bibliography. It includes the reference as well as information about it. You include an introduction of the writer of the source, a summary of it, and your opinion of what you found helpful for your research.

The goal of making an annotated bibliography is to describe why this source is good for your research and how it helped you.

Annotated bibliographies are lists of books, articles, and so forth that have been used as sources for a paper. The difference between MLA and APA is that they use different styles of citations.

In both cases, you need to cite the sources in your paper and give an explanation of them. Below are examples of how to do this using these two citation styles:

  • APA Style Annotated Bibliography
Forsyth, M. (2014). The elements of eloquence: Secrets of the perfect turn of phrase. Penguin Books.

The author, Mark Forsyth, examines the rhetorical devices used in the English language, analyzing the patterns and formats that create memorable quotes. He traces the history of rhetoric to the Ancient Greeks. and provides an abridged timeline, following their use and evolution through to the modern-day.

The author also explores the broader subject of persuasion and maps out the role that the figures of rhetoric play in it. In all, he examines over thirty devices, dissecting notable passages and phrases from pop music, the plays of William Shakespeare, the Bible, and more to explore the figures of rhetoric at work within each of them. Thorough definitions accompany this examination of structure to demonstrate how these formulas have been used to generate famously memorable expressions as well as how to reproduce their effects.

  • MLA Style Annotated Bibliography
“What Guidance Should I Give My Students for Preparing an Annotated Bibliography?” The MLA Style Center, The Modern Language Association, 4 Nov. 2016,

This article offers brief and clear directions for MLA formatting of a bibliography with annotations. Citing James Harner’s On Compiling an Annotated Bibliography, it provides guidelines for writing annotations that can be applied to either paraphrase or commentary form.

It also demonstrates how writing annotations can benefit students who are tasked with researching a subject and offers instruction on the organization of entries and acceptable page titles. While the advice is tailored to respond to a question posed by an instructor, students and researchers may also benefit from the guidance that the MLA provided.

If you are writing about fictional work, use MLA. If you are writing a short publication such as an academic article, use MLA. Still, confused? That is normal, and we can help you with that. can help with formatting papers, like APA and MLA formats. But formatting is hard and it can be tricky. So if you want help on an academic paper, contact our essay writer for a custom essay written in your selected format.

Frequently Asked Questions

Do colleges want MLA or APA?

Some colleges require you to use MLA format. Other colleges don't ask for that. You will know what the college needs before you take the course.

Why is APA style needed?

APA style is important for scholarly communication because it helps writers to present their ideas in a clear way. This makes their writing inclusive.

Is APA harder than MLA?

In an ideal world, students should learn APA first. It is a little harder than MLA. So when they learn MLA, it will be easier for them because they already know some things from APA.

Cathy A.


Cathy A. (Marketing, Literature)

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

Cathy has been been working as an author on our platform for over five years now. She has a Masters degree in mass communication and is well-versed in the art of writing. Cathy is a professional who takes her work seriously and is widely appreciated by clients for her excellent writing skills.

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