Key Differences between APA and MLA paper formats

Home » Essay Examples » Key Differences between APA and MLA paper formats

Choosing between APA and MLA format will be totally dependent on the subject, and instructions for an assignment and/or course. It is very important to know whether your work will be on scientific topics or humanities because they have completely different approaches to the used sources. APA and MLA are some of the most commonly used paper formats in academia.

Such formats were created for fields with completely different research approaches, so if you are asked to write on humanities subjects then you need to choose the Modern Language Association (MLA) style. If you are writing a psychology work, it is necessary to keep your research papers to the American Psychological Association (APA) style.

Main Differences

Both Modern Language Association (MLA) and American Psychological Association (APA) formatting styles are used in all sorts of academic works, including reports and papers. APA is usually used for social sciences, while MLA is applied when you need to write a paper on humanities or liberal arts. Both guidelines give recommendations on how to format style, content, and references. While they are much alike, there are still many differences when it comes to MLA vs. APA, which an essay writer needs to keep in mind.

The difference in Title Page

Papers, formatted according to APA, need to have page headers, situated atop of every page, title page included. Numbers of pages are situated on the right and paper’s title – on the left.

MLA-formatted work contains title on a first page, which is separated from the essay’s title by a double space only. In an MLA formatting style, you need to write the header on the left, which consists of the author’s name, instructor’s name, name of the course, and the date.

The difference with respect to In-Text Citation

When it comes to in-text citing, APA and MLA use a bit different approaches. While MLA sticks to the author-page format, APA uses an author-date one. Paper, formatted according to APA includes the last name of the author and publication year in parenthesis after the text, which you want to cite.

MLA formatted paper consists of the last name of the author and page number after the cited text.

The difference in Reference Page

Papers, which need to be referenced according to an APA format, should include a separate page, which is called ‘References’ and is situated at the end of the whole work. The MLA-formatted assignment contains a similar page, although it is called ‘Works cited’.

Both of them contain a list of used sources in an alphabetized order according to the author’s last name, which should be double-spaced.

If two works of the same author are cited, in an APA format you need to list them in chronological order, starting with the earliest one. Difference between MLA and APA, in this case, is obvious: you need to list entries in alphabetical order according to the title and use three hyphens on the place of the author's name after the first time the author was mentioned.

On the page of cited works, you need to indent five spaces starting with the second and the following lines for every source. Every source in an APA format should be indented ½ inch starting with the second line.

As you see, there are many differences in MLA and APA citation styles so one has to know about it to distinguish one from another, because lack of attention may get you into trouble. In case you don’t want to waste your time and format the page on your own nor need some help to get started, you can always contact professional essay writing service and get quality assistance at any time of the day.

Exclusive access to the "EssayWritingService" Learning Center. You’ll get weekly tips and tricks for improving your own writing and for achieving academic success through your writing.

About us

"EssayWritingService" is the #1 Ranked Online home for great academic writing, essays, research papers, and graduate theses.

Why us?
  • 100+ subject matter experts.
  • 100% original writing (zero plagiarism, ever).
  • Short deadline service.
  • Love our work or don’t pay (satisfaction guaranteed).


Paper Due? Why Suffer?
That's our Job