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APA Vs MLA Referencing style


Differences Between MLA and APA Format Style

Nobody can deny the fact that referencing is quite a complicated matter. It is mainly due to a lack of a clear concept. For example, many students are still confused about the difference between MLA and APA style. Both of these referencing styles are the most used ones in academic writing. If you are confused between these two or fail to identify these two separately, this blog will explain how these two referencing styles differ from each other.

MLA Referencing style

The first thing to know is what does MLA stand for. MLA stands for Modern Language Association. This referencing style is mainly used in Humanities. You should know when to use the MLA format. The MLA Referencing style is used, especially for literature, theatre, and art. Both in-text citations and references are used in this style. The reference page that comes at the bottom of the paper is called ‘Works Cited’ in MLA style.

MLA Format Examples

Here are some examples of the MLA style references:

In-text: (Harvey 23) (Last Name of the Author page number)

Works-Cited reference: Harvey, L.D. Danny. Global warming. Routledge, 2018. (Last name, first name. Name of the document. Publisher, date of publication)

In-text: (Hoegh-Guldberg et al. 345)

Works-Cited reference: Hoegh-Guldberg, Ove, et al. “Impacts of 1.5 ºC global warming on natural and human systems.” (2018).

Also Read: Difference Between Harvard And MLA Referencing Styles

APA Referencing Style

You should also know what does APA stand for. APA refers to the American Psychological Association. In an article published in Psychological Bulletin in 1929, the APA style originated. This referencing style is mainly used in social science papers. The reference page in the APA referencing style is titled ‘Reference List’ or ‘References’. If you are wondering when to use APA format, remember to use this referencing style while citing sources in the papers of social sciences, psychology and education.

APA Format Examples

Some examples of the APA format are provided below:

In-text: (Bongaarts & O’Neill, 2018) (Last Name of the Author, year of publishing)

Citation for the reference list: Bongaarts, J., & O’Neill, B. C. (2018). Global warming policy: Is population left out in the cold?. Science361(6403), 650-652.  (Last name of the author, Initial of the first name., & Last name of the second author, Initials of the first and middle name of the second author. (year of publication). Name of the document. Publisher, Volume (Issue no.), Page numbers.)

In-text: (Philander, 2018)

Citation for the reference list: Philander, S. G. (2018). Is the temperature rising?: the uncertain science of global warming. Princeton University Press.

Also Read: A-Z Guide About The Usage And Features Of AMA Citation

What is the difference between APA and MLA?

These two referencing styles have many significant differences. Let’s see what are these:

Paper Format

A paper needs to be formatted using double-spaced pages, one-inch margins on all sides, and a 12-point font which is easily readable in both MLA and APA styles. A paper which is formatted using the APA style contains the following parts:

  • A title page
  • An abstract
  • Main body
  • References

On the other hand, a paper which is formatted using the MLA style only has two main parts:

  • Body of the paper
  • Works Cited page

There is no separate title page or an abstract in an MLA-formatted paper.

How to Begin a Paper (APA format vs MLA format)?

APA Format MLA Format
  • The paper formatted using this style starts with a title page. It also contains a page header at the top section of the title page.
  • The page numbers are kept at the extreme right side of the header. The title of the paper remains on the extreme left section of the paper’s header section.
  • The title of the paper, the name of the author, institutional affiliation, etc. are included in the title page.
  • The MLA-formatted paper has the title on top of the main text of the first page. The last name of the author as well as the page number is included in the extreme right side of the header section of the page.
  • In the MLA style, on the first page’s left side, the author name, the name of the instructor, course and date are written.

APA vs MLA In-Text Citation 

In the case of creating the in-text citation, two different methods are used in the APA and MLA styles. While in the APA style, the author-date format is used, the MLA style uses the author-page style. To create the in-text citation in the APA style, we include the last name of the author and the year of publication within a parenthesis. For example, if you ask how to cite an annual report in APA, it will go as follows:

In-text citation:

(Harley Davidson Motor Company, 2013)

 Works Cited:

Harley-Davidson Motor Company. (2013). 2012 annual report. Retrieved from

And if you ask how to cite an annual report in MLA, it will be as follows:

In-text citation:

(Spirit Corp 5)

Reference List:

Spirit Corp. 2012 Annual Report [italicized], 2013. Web. 15 April 2013.

Reference Page Difference between APA and MLA

In the APA style, the separate reference page is titled ‘References’, while in the MLA style, the same page is titled ‘Works Cited’.

In APA, the author’s last name is followed by the initial of his/her first name in the references. But, in MLA, the author’s last name is followed by the complete first name in the references.

In a paper formatted following the APA style, the entries in the reference page are listed according to the order they appear in the paper. However, in a paper formatted using the MLA style, the references in the Works Cited page are entered alphabetically by the last name of the author.

Here are examples of APA and MLA references:

APA: Myers, M. D. (2019). Qualitative research in business and management. Sage Publications Limited.

MLA: Myers, Michael D. Qualitative research in business and management. Sage Publications Limited, 2019.


If you ever wonder “Should I use MLA or APAfor a specific paper, you need to see from which discipline or field the paper belongs to. You can also use the information provided above as a guide for creating citations of the sources you use in your next academic paper.

Also Read: A Complete APA Referencing And Citation Guide

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  • APA
  • MLA
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  • Chicago
  • Oxford

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