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What Is The Difference Between APA and MLA Styles?

Figuring out how to cite different sources can be difficult enough without having to worry about which style you need to use. When citing sources, there are two popular ways to cite; APA and MLA. It is common to get these two confused, especially if you have professors who use different styles. A breakdown of each style is given in order to help you understand the differences. This will also help you spot which style is being used when you are doing your own research and have to comb through citations.

APA Style

APA stands for American Psychological Association and the style is used mainly in the fields of education, business, nursing, and psychology. The differences in the two styles can be seen best through a breakdown of certain portions of the citations. Here is the basic breakdown of an APA style citation:

  • Uses a “reference” page to cite the sources at the end of the paper
  • The date is in parentheses and follows the author
  • The first name initial is used and the last name is spelled out
  • The title is in italics and only the first word is capitalized
  • The last name of the author is used as well as the date for in-text citations
  • Commas are also used in the in-text citation along with the use of p. and pp.

MLA Style

MLA stands for Modern Language Association and is commonly used in Humanities studies. This includes majors such as English, art, music, theater, and world languages. Here is the basic breakdown of the MLA citation:

  • Uses a “works cited” page instead of “references” at the end of the paper
  • The publisher comes first, then the date and is not in parentheses
  • Title is underlined and all the major words are capitalized
  • For in-text citation, the authors last name and page number are used
  • No commas are used for separation
  • PP. is also not used in the citation

As you can see, the differences are small but significant when it comes to using the proper citation style. There is nothing worse than having points deducted from your paper for using the wrong citation style. There are some things to keep in mind when using either style. First, make sure all info used in the paper is cited. Both styles also require the citations be listed in alphabetical order.

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