Are you finding it hard to differentiate between MLA (Modern language association), and APA (American psychological association)? Are you thinking about ‘who will write my paper now? Sometimes, we do not differentiate the two and end up writing in the wrong style, which can lead us to amass low marks on our academic papers.

One thing you need to note is that we use MLA mainly when writing humanities and liberal arts essays, research papers and term papers. APA, on the other hand, is in writing social sciences papers.

Because styles such as difference between harvard and apa are evolving every day, you need to be always on your toes to follow the dictates. However, it’s not rocket science to understand one style after another; you can start off by reading this guide to have a full grasp. To make it easy to understand, learn their differences under these sub-topics:

apa vs mla


MLA and APA have different page layouts as shown below.

apa paper formatmla paper format
An apa paper contains a unique title page in which you should write your running head – a simplified title preceded by the phrase “Running head.” MLA paper contains no title page unless there is a specified request by the institution or professor to do so.
There is a running head contained in the far left corner of the page that usually includes the page number. Once it is placed in the opening pages, Word will automatically fill in the remaining pages with the same as you continue typing.The last name of the author and the page number is included in the upper right corner of the page. Depending on the platform in which you are creating the document, there should be a preset and automated way of inserting the format.
A crucial part of the APA style formatting is the abstract page. The abstract apa page basically contains a general overview of what your paper is about and should include as much information as possible in the least amount of space, usually in about half a page.The MLA format requires no abstract and will have the title of the work placed in a center alignment at the beginning of the paper. There is no running title either.
Please note that the title should under no circumstance be underlined.
The body is invariably the most important part of your work as it contains all the information you intend to communicate. The body is usually broken into various segments depending on the specification of your work.Just as in APA, the body is the most important part of the paper. Ensure that it is properly structured as per the guidelines provided by your professor and that the information you provide is deep, accurate and succinct.
Always remember to add a conclusion and recommendation, unless otherwise dictated, and the reference page.The conclusion is important in MLA and where the recommendations are needed, provided them before you finalize your paper with a Works Cited list of the sources of information included in your paper.

In-text citation

The in-text citation is paraphrasing, quoting, or summarizing content from another source in the body, introduction, or conclusion of your academic paper.


Both MLA and APA styles have these similarities. However, they use it differently:

Similarities between mla and apa

  • mla format

Here’s how to write a direct quote in MLA:

Paul remarked in his book, “He was the best friend I had in 1973, he helped me during perilous times” (Fisher 12).

You need to mention the author’s name when quoting indirectly:

Paul remarked in his book he was the best friend he had in 1973; he helped him during perilous times (12).

  • APA Format

APA is different just as you expected.

Here is how to write a direct quote in APA:

Paul remarked in his book, “He was the best friend I had in 1973, he helped me during perilous times” (Fisher, 1973)

Here is how to paraphrase in APA:

Paul remarked in his book he was the best friend he had in 1973, he helped him during perilous times (Fisher 1973)

In the above examples, you noted that APA follows the author-date format, while MLA follows the author-page format. Have them in mind when working on your term paper.

  1. Bibliography bibliography format

A bibliography is a list of sources you have used in your writing. It can be that you gave the reference in the paper or not. It’s different in MLA and APA. Here’s how it differs:

apa citation

Here is apa citation example in different resources :

 apa Books citation

These are the best sources of information. To cite a book, this is the correct format: Author, A. (Year of publication). Title of work, publisher city, state: Publisher.

apa Citation Example Book:

Paul, Smith. (1973). Fisher. Texas, California: Phoenix publisher.

apa in text citation website

This is how to cite a website using APA format:

Author, A. (Year, month Date of Publication). Article title. Retrieval from URL.

mla in text citation

Here is how to cite resources in MLA:

mla Books Citation:

Last name, first name. The title, contributors, version number, publisher, year of publication.

in text citation mla 8

Paul Walker. “The Fisher,” Phoenix publisher, 1993.

mla in text citations for websites

Author’s name (s). Article title. Title of the container, contributors, version numbers, date of publication, location. Title of the database URL.

Other notable differences

In MLA, you are required to capitalize all the significant words in the title and underline it. However, you will only capitalize the first word in the title in APA: excluding the proper nous, which you have to capitalize.

Spell out the author’s full names (first and last) in MLA, while in APA, you will only spell out the last name and reduce the first name to initials.

In APA style, the title is written in italics and not underlined. In MLA, the whole title is written in uppercase and is underlined.

To understand the differences between the two styles, you need to practice with what you’re learning. Pick a paper and format it in one style. As soon as you implement one thing, you’ll have understood it.

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