Academic writing styles: APA vs MLA


What are APA and MLA and what does it mean to follow them?

The first thing you will need to learn if you want to write good essays and receive high marks is that there are different paper citation and formatting styles. Your professor will ask you to follow a specific style when assigning a paper to you. You have to pay attention to this part of the requirements. If you fail to stick to the specific style, you may lose a sufficient part of the grade for the paper. The professors usually want to teach students how to use them correctly and therefore, check the usage very carefully. There are a lot of paper writing styles, but the most common are MLA (created by Modern Language Association) and APA (American Psychological Association). MLA is mostly used in papers in Humanities and APA is typical for social sciences. Most universities usually stick to one of the styles, but you still need to ask your professor about it, if it is not specified to avoid misunderstandings.

Is there anything common between APA and MLA?

Of course, there is not everything different. There are a few points that are typical for both MLA and APA. It is easy to remember them and you will not need to go back to the guidelines every time.

  • Double-spacing. This is a typical requirement, which you shall always follow as it will determine the length of your paper.
  • Reference page. You must place all the sources you used on a reference page and all the information is supposed to be cited.
  • Alphabetical order. Place sources on the work cited page in alphabetical order.
  • Integrate quotes. Citations have to be smoothly introduced in the text.

What are the main differences?

Here is the list of the main differences you shall keep in mind. The may look alike, but if you look closer, there is a big difference and it is always better not to mix them up.

  1. The sources shall stand on a  reference page for MLA and works cited page for APA.
  2. For MLA source you shall state last name, then first name (Adams, Jack), for APA sources it is last name and first initial of the name (Adams, J)
  3. Quotes which have over 4 lines have to be blocked in MLA. It means that 2 tabs have to be placed over. Im APA all quoted over 40 sources must have 1 tab or 5 spaces in front of them.

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