How to Tell a Difference between MLA and APA

difference between MLA and APA

Have you ever perused two papers in the library that had different referencing styles? There is a vast difference between MLA and APA.  The two are some of the widely accepted citation methods in institutions.

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You could ask yourself, should I use MLA or APA? The decision is up to you. Formatting your paper in either APA or MLA is very important. For example, psychologists must adhere to APA guidelines, including referencing their work according to NCBI. If you wonder what the difference between APA and MLA is, read on to find out more.

The major difference between MLA and APA is on the running head

The running head for MLA and APA is different. MLA does not use the word running head but has a running head. The first page of the APA should include the word running head.

MLA includes your surname as the running head while APA uses the subject of your essay. In MLA, your surname and the page number go to flush right. Your essay’s subject is written on the flush left and the page number on the flush right in APA style.

The first thing your tutor will note is your title page. Adhering to these guidelines gives your teacher the impression that you will follow the instructions to the end. 

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The title page for MLA and APA

MLA and APA use different pages to include personal information. MLA does not have a title page. Formatting your paper in MLA is that simple.

You should include the information that goes on the title page on the first page of your essay. However, using the APA method will require you to have a separate page for your personal information.

MLA uses different personal information from the one used in APA. The APA title page includes the title of the essay and your institution’s name, which is omitted by MLA. APA disregards information such as the instructor’s name and date, which are included in MLA.

Another difference between MLA and APA is in formatting the title page. In APA, your title, name, institution, and course should be centered and in the title case. Furthermore, the information should be at the center of the page (click six tabs). Your essay begins on the next page.

The first page follows different formatting. Write your name, instructor, course, and date vertically on the flush right of your paper. However, your title should be centered and in title case. Your introduction begins in the next line.

However, there are a few exceptions to your paper. For example, a lecturer may request you to write your paper in APA format without including a title page. In such a case, follow the instruction without feeling that your lecturer is misleading you.

 In-text citation in APA and MLA

difference between MLA and APA

A significant difference between MLA and APA is the content of an in-text citation. MLA uses the author’s last name and the page number in in-citation (Smith 15) while APA uses the author’s last name and publication date (Smith 2017).

The in-text citation style differs when there is the use of long citations. APA format is the most diverse. A text with more than 40 words is considered as a long citation. As a result, you need to include the page number in your citation.  

Direct quotations in APA format take a different form.  Direct quotes use the normal APA referencing method but add the page number. A direct quote should look like this; Smith 2017, 55).

In MLA format, the citation is not much different. However, words that are more than three lines are considered a long citation. Therefore, you should write to them in a new sentence and with a one-inch indent.

The rule of the in-text citation is not always followed strictly. Depending on your assignment’s nature, you may be exempted from a few things, especially in MLA. The teacher may request you to use author-date for your in-text citation.

Bibliography in MLA and APA

 A difference between MLA and APA occurs in  in terms of the publication date and the bibliography’s names on each style. Another point that confuses many students is how the annotated bibliography appears in both MLA and APA. If you are not keen enough, you may end up having a combination of MLA and APA in your bibliography.

The publication date is written at the end in MLA, while in APA, the date is written after the author’s name. Another point to note is that dates in APA are put into parenthesis. After noting such a small difference, I am sure you no longer asking whether you should use MLA or APA format.

Another critical yet ignored difference is the name of the bibliography in each style. Did you know that reference is the APA name for the bibliography? As you think about that, you should also name your last page as work cited if you are using MLA style.

Your tutor may not tell you this, but how you name your bibliography in APA and MLA is essential. They can determine whether you have used the right formatting style throughout the paper by just looking at your title. Therefore, it is essential to give them the first impression.

Writing a bibliography can be tiresome. Most students prefer to write a long paper than make a reference list. Professional research paper writing services are helpful to students when writing their bibliographies.

Author’s name

The format of names in the bibliography varies. MLA uses the first and last name of the author. Two authors are separated by an ‘and’ such as Smith, Paul, and Martin Joel.

More than two authors are written differently. Write the first and the last name of the author, followed by et al. The format saves you if you have many authors.

APA takes a simple form. Write the author’s last name, and then the initials of their first name such as Smith, P. Use an ampersand to separate the first and second authors’ name when dealing with two authors (Smith, P& Joel, and P).

The formatting in APA gets complicated as you move on. Write the authors’ names if they are less than twenty and put an ampersand before the last author’s name.

difference between MLA and APA

Things do not get better when you have more than twenty authors. State the first nineteen authors separated by a comma. After that, put an ellipsis and state the last author.

How the names appear in your bibliography may be trivial. However, you may find yourself in trouble if you do not follow the right name format. Following your tutor’s guide is essential because they may have a good reason for choosing a particular format.

Different professionals use MLA and APA to format their work.  Generally, MLA is mostly used in humanities’ subjects such as languages and literature. Social scientists such as psychologists and social workers on the hand used APA formatting. 

You can use MLA or APA as well. If your lecturer does not specify which method to use, you may decide to go with either of them. However, there are a few things you should consider before you make up your mind.

First, consider the number of citations required for your paper. If you are dealing with a long list of citations, use the best method to save your time. In this case, MLA is the best since you only need to list the first three authors.

Consider the length of your paper. Here you need to compare the number of references and the volume of your content.  Use APA citation if your work requires a few references in an extensive essay, such as a reflection paper.

The time required for you to submit your essay also determines the style you will use. A short deadline will need you to use a simple referencing method. APA is the quickest method since you only need the name and date of publication in your in-text citation.

Capitalizing titles in APA and MLA styles

The titles for your reference or work cited page is different. Capitalization is a huge difference between   MLA and APA. If you are using MLA, make sure you capitalize the right words in your title to avoid grammatical errors.

APA uses a different approach. A lot of people love APA because it is not complicated. For example, the only thing you need to capitalize on is the first word of the sentence.  APA style may be the best for people who are in a hurry.   

The period in APA and MLA referencing

The two methods use a period differently. MLA concludes its entries with a period. APA format does not use a period if the entry ends with a link. The details are small but very important.

Ensure to adhere to such minute details, especially when writing papers for publication. Your lecturer may overlook how you use a period in your essay. However, a publisher may reject your article if you ignore the proper use of your paper period.

Final Verdict

Now you can point out the difference between MLA and APA. Do not forget some important differences such as title page, in-text citation, bibliography, title case, running head and author’s name. 

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