APA is arguably the most used academic writing style in the social sciences while the MLA is predominately used in the fields of liberal arts as well as arts and humanities. The APA and MLA Formatting and Style Guide clearly state the overall structure of paper regarding style, content and referencing format. Although these two most popular writing styles have some similarities, they also bear some differences as seen in the APA and MLA Formatting and Style Guide.

Paper Formatting
An APA-formatted essay or research paper consists of four major parts that include the title page, body, abstract and references. The MLA-formatted paper does not include a separate title page or an abstract. It has two major parts that include the body as well as the works cited page.

The Title Pages
APA papers include page headers at the very top of every page including the title page. The APA’s title page should include the title of the paper, the name of the writer and institutional affiliation. An MLA-formatted essay should include the title of the discussion on the first page which separates it from the body by double spacing. MLA academic writing style also includes a header on the left side corner of the first page with the writer’s name, instructor’s name, course name and the date the paper was completed.


In-Text Citations
MLA and APA-formatted papers use slightly varying methods in their in-text citations. The MLA writing style follows the Writer-Page format while the APA writing style uses the writer-date format. An APA-formatted paper has the writer’s last name together with the year of book publication in its parenthesis just after the cited works. An MLA-written paper has the writer’s last name together with the page number in its parenthesis just after the discussion.

Reference Pages
APA-written papers include a separate page at the end of each paper entitled “References,” while the MLA papers have the last page entitled as “Works Cited.” In an APA-written paper, if there are multiple works written by the same writer, the titles should be listed chronologically beginning with the earliest work. However, in an MLA-style paper, the works cited are listed alphabetically using a title and three hyphens rather than the writer’s name after the first reference. In an MLA’s works-cited page, the second line and all other following lines for each source should be indented five times. An APA-style source should be indented one and a half inch from the margin of the first line.

You should clearly note that your lecturer or supervisor may have unique instructions regarding the usage of these academic writing styles as well as formats in their assignments. Where the supervisor’s instructions conflict with the standard rules of the APA and MLA Formatting and Style Guide, you should follow their will. You should not argue with your tutor since they know it better unless you want to fail terribly in that paper. However, it is very rare that you will find experienced lecturers giving out contravening instructions to their students.


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