When it comes to writing and formatting of the research work, the Modern Language Association recommended the MLA style and the American Language Association propounded the APA style, which is commonly preferred worldwide, for the purpose of preparing research papers, reports, academic writing and so forth. One major difference between these two is that while the MLA style is followed in humanities and liberal arts, APA style is preferred in social sciences.
As different disciplines have a different way of researching information and so the method of development, compilation and presentation of that information is also different. Basically, these two formats provide recommendations on the way in which style, content and references are to be formatted.
Here we are going to tell you the differences between MLA and APA format.
Content: MLA Vs APA
|Basis for Comparison||MLA||APA|
|Meaning||MLA is a formatting style introduced by Modern Language Association which is followed in the fields like humanities and liberal arts.||APA refers to a formatting style recommended in the manual of the American Psychological Association, used in the fields of behavioral and social sciences.|
|Sections||Body paragraphs and work cited.||Title page, Abstract, Body paragraphs and List of references.|
|Title||As there is no specific title page, the title is mentioned on the very first page.||Title page contains the title, author's name and the name of the educational institution.|
|Format of in-text citation||Author-page format||Author-date format|
|Direct In-text citation||Author's last name with page number, for instance (Marshall 44)||Author's last name, year and page number, for instance (Marshall, 1982, p.44)|
|Direct quote with author name In-text citation||According to the author,"...." (page number)||According to author (year), "...." (p. page number)|
|Paraphrase||Statement (author's last name page number)||Statement (author's last name, year, p. page number)|
|Source page||Works Cited||References|
|Author's name in sources cited||Author's last name, first name.||Author's last name is written and the first name is reduced to initials.|
|Capitalization||The first letter of all the important words in the title are capitalized and the title is underlined.||The first letter of title, subtitle and proper nouns, are capitalized and the title is written in Italics.|
Definition of MLA
MLA style is a formatting style developed by Modern Language Association, to provide the scholars, researchers, and journal publishers working in the field of literature and language, a uniform and consistent way of documenting the sources, research paper layout and presenting their research work.
The association releases the latest edition as a Handbook periodically, which not just contains instructions on MLA format, but also specific guidelines for submission of the work, which complies with the rules and standards of the association.
MLA style gives recommendations on the set of guidelines which the students and scholars can apply in their source. It focuses on the mechanics of writing, i.e. punctuation, citation and documentation. This style is preferred by various schools, colleges, universities, academic departments, etc. worldwide. It is primarily used in humanities, i.e. English language and literature, cultural studies, literary criticism, cultural studies and so forth.
Definition of APA
APA style is the formal style of formatting developed by the American Psychological Association in 1929, setting up rules for journal articles publications and books. The guidelines for the work is provided through the APA publication manual.
The APA style assists the authors to organize their work, while creating a distinct style of references and citations, in the field of behavioural sciences and social sciences. Behavioral Sciences include psychology, neuroscience and cognitive science, whereas social science covers human geography, sociology, anthropology, linguistics, economics, political science, etc.
It aims at providing the reader with a comprehensive text having appropriate headings, list of works cited and preventing plagiarism. It facilitates the researchers and scholars to communicate the facts and information about their projects, ideas, and experiments in a uniform and consistent format.
Basically there are four sections in the paper:
- Title page: It includes running head, title, name of the author and name of the educational institution.
- Abstract: An abstract is the synopsis of your paper, which should be around 150 to 250 words. The word limit can vary as per the requirement. It contains Topic of research, Questions and Hypothesis, Methodology, Analysis and Conclusion
- Main body: The main body is nothing but the essay, which may be divided into different sections.
- References: It contains the list of all the sources which have been referred and used while writing the paper
Key Differences Between MLA and APA
The differences between MLA and APA are discussed here in detail:
- MLA style can be understood as a means of documenting sources and formatting papers, in scholarly writing, developed by the Modern Language Association. On the other hand, APA style is one of the styles of writing papers, publications, books, journals etc. introduced by the American Psychological Association, which is mainly used in social sciences.
- If we talk about sections, there are four main sections in APA format, i.e. title page, abstract, body paragraphs and references. Conversely, the MLA format contains only two main sections which are – body paragraphs and work cited.
- In MLA style, there is no particular title page, so the title is given on the first page, which is dissociated from the essay title by adding a double space. In this style, at the first page, the header is given on the left side which shows the name of author, instructor, course and the date, while the remaining pages have headers on the right side containing the last name of the author and page number.
On the other hand, in APA format, the title page contains the title, author’s name and name of the educational entity. Further, all the pages contain header at the top of every page, including the title page, wherein on the right-side and the left-side, the number of pages and paper’s title is shown respectively.
- When the research paper follows MLA format, the in-text citations are shown in the author-page format, i.e. the last name of the author and page number is mentioned, following the text cited.
As against, in APA style, the author uses author-date format for in-text citations, wherein the last name of the author along with the year of publication is mentioned in parenthesis, following the text cited.
- In both direct and indirect in-text citation, in MLA format you don’t need to mention the year, and a comma after the name of the author and a p. before the page number, which is mandatory in the case of APA format.
- The source page, i.e. the page in which we list out all the sources which have been referred, used, or cited during the writing, is called references in case of APA format, whereas the same is known as works cited in MLA format.
- At the time of citing the sources at the end of the document, in MLA style the author’s last name is spelt out and then the first name is written. In contrast, in APA style, the authors last name is written, and the first name is reduced to initials.
- In MLA style, the first letter of all the important words in the title are capitalized and the title is underlined. As against, in an APA style, the first letter of title, subtitle and proper nouns, are capitalized and the title is written in Italics.
- In both styles, the paper needs to be double spaced.
- Font style should be “Times new roman”, with 12 point size.
- There should be a one-inch margin from each side.
- The list of sources used is arranged in alphabetical manner, as per the author’s last name.
One can choose any of the two formats for the work based on the question which is to be answered with the help of research, how the research paper is completed and the procedure applied during the writing process.