MLA and APA Format of the Research Paper – Main Distinctions

MLA and APA are two styles of formatting and writing that are used for reports and essays. There are a number of differences between the two; below we set out some guidelines on how to identify which style you should adopt.

Which Writing Style Should I Use For My Subject?

The MLA and APA style are used for a number of different topics, below is some information that details which style should be used for your subject.

  • MLA is normally used in humanities and liberal arts.
  • APA is used for social sciences

How Should I Format My Paper?

There can be similarities between the two styles, but it is important to note the differences and apply them to your format accordingly.

  • Both styles employ the use of pages that are double-spaced, a font that is 12-point and all sides should contain a one-inch margin.
  • An APA paper is made up of four parts: The title page, the abstract, the references page and the main body.
  • The abstract in the APA paper will consist of up to 250 words.
  • An MLA paper will not have a separate abstract page, nor does it have a title page.
  • The MLA paper will have two parts, a works cited section, and the body of the essay.

The Title Page

  • APA papers will include page headers on every page.
  • Page numbers should be aligned to the right hand side of the paper.
  • The title should be aligned to the left hand side of the paper.
  • The APA title page should include the title, the author’s name and the name of the institute of which the paper as being written for.
  • An MLA formatted paper will also include the title on the first page. The title should be separated by using a double space.
  • The MLA header should include the author’s name. The instructor’s name, the course and the date.
  • The remaining pages should have a right side header. This should include the page number and the author’s surname.

In-Text Citations

In-text citations are slightly different between an MLA and APA paper.

  • An APA paper should include the surname of the author and the publication year put in beside the cited text.
  • An MLA paper should include the last name of the author and the page number following the text.
  • Reference Pages
  • An APA paper should have a separate page that reads “References”
  • An MLA paper should have a page that reads “Works Cited.”
  • Both formats should list the sources in alphabetical order by the author’s surname.
  • If there is more than one citation by the same author, these should be listed in date order.