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APA vs MLA Referencing: Know The Difference

APA vs MLA Referencing: Know The Difference
Ashley, a student at the Melbourne University in the undergraduate program, had a bizarre experience when she sat down to write the first assignment of her undergraduate program. Being a Psychology student, her assignment was an essay on Mental Health. Along with the marking rubric and the detailed question file that she found in her email, she also found a guide to referencing. 

She came to realise that with college assignments, it is not enough to write well. The paper needs to be formatted in the proper guidelines using documentation A.K.A referencing style. MLA & APA are two of the widely used styles in academia. Though they might look strikingly similar to a fresher, there are key differences between MLA & APA format

Formatting your submission file with a proper and well reference list would not only impress your teacher but would also show that you conducted thorough research during the project. This would translate to stellar grades and shining GPA. 

So let’s get started with the differences and similarities between these absurdly popular styles.

MLA & APA Similarities

Citation, in other words, a way to acknowledge that you recycled someone else’s ideas, research or thoughts to support your claim. Citation is a way to give due credit to the author and the respective organisations. What is more important is consistency in your referencing styles. You can not casually switch between different referencing styles at your will. 

Different universities have different sets of guidelines for referencing, but primarily, MLA & APA are widely accepted styles of referencing. If your institute has specifically mentioned you to follow a specific style, please do the same and do not change it as per your own will. 

In both MLA and APA, your paper would include a double space in both MLA & APA while making use of parenthetical citations. Parenthetical citations should be included to credit respective information. 

For MLA, the author’s name and page number are included in the said order. However, in APA, the author's date name and date are followed. 

For example, if you are included an In-line citation, the MLA format would be 

“According to Michelle, MLA is a widely accepted style. (Michelle 38)”

Whereas, the APA format would be: 

Prednick Jones believes that APA is a good system for academia. (Jones, 2015)

At the end of your work, your citations would be listed in alphabetical order. Both of them include a hanging indent for citations. Hanging Intent means that the first paragraph of the citation should be Left aligned and all other lines are indented.

Core Components of MLA

Components of MLA

At the core format of MLA, 

The reference includes these in the following order: 

Author’s name(s). “Title of the source in Italics and quotes.Title of a container in Italics, any other contributors, version, numbers, publisher for the writing piece, the publication date for the article or Journal, location. If there are multiple authors involved, the author names would be separated by a comma in the alphabetical order. 

Books in MLA formats are cited a bit differently than a journal or other print articles.

mla formats

Example to Reference a Book 

Michael, James B. A Guide to Varied Citations. 2nd ed, ABC Publisher, 2018

Note: Author name. Title in Italics & Sentence Case. Version, Publisher, Year of Publication. 

While referencing, double-check the case of your references as they are of utmost importance.

Core Components of APA

APA components

At the core of APA, these are the rules that are generally followed. To cite a source in APA format, you proceed in the following way: 

  1. Author’s Surname, Initial(s). (Date Published in Brackets). Title of Source in Sentence Case. Location, Publisher. 
  2. In the case of online articles, add “Retrieved from URL” in the end separated with a comma and provide the link proceeding it. 

The Key Differences In APA and MLA

So now that we have explored the core of MLA and APA, let’s organize the differences. 

  • In MLA Author’s name or first name is written while referencing while in the APA, Author surname is followed by author’s initials separated by a comma.
  • In Mla, Title of the article in italics and sentence case follow the author name, while in the APA, the author’s name is followed by the date in parenthesis which is then followed by a period. 
  • Location of the publisher is required in the APA when referencing a book or a journal article. While in the MLA, location is the only necessary when citing a book.

These were the differences between MLA and APA citations. That is all for this article. For more information feel free to browse our website, Online Assignment Expert. You will find a range of blogs written on several other types of referencing styles. If you still get stuck in citing the sources, then do let us know. We have a team of certified assignment writing experts who will help you in completing your academic assignment easily. To book a session with one of them, you can call or chat with our customer care team right away. Having said that, goodbye for now mates. Wish you best of luck for your assignments.

Author: Mike

I am a subject matter expert in assignment writing and have been associated with for a few months now. I believe that students should get professional help with their assignments and I am here to help. Contact me on

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