MLA vs APA: The Differences and How to Cite

25 April 2023 / Team Fun English Course

We often find different styles or methods to cite in writing an academic paper. The two different methods are usually called MLA vs APA. Both have their own guidelines and rules in citing sources, usage, as well as in formatting pages. So, what are the differences and how to use them in citing?

MLA vs APA Citation

MLA vs APA Citation

These styles of citations have their own instruction. Besides, both also provide their own guidelines, for example, on how to capitalize certain words in titles, how to write author’s names, or when you should spell out numbers. 

Moreover, choosing which format to use will depend on the subject. If you are writing on topics about humanities, such as literature, philosophy, ethics, and so on, then it is preferred to use MLA format. 

Meanwhile, you will need to use the APA citation format when writing topics on social sciences, such as sociology, psychology, education, and others.

Overall, the huge difference between both formats is the referencing style. More about the explanations of it will be discussed below.

In-text Citation MLA vs APA

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In-text citations involve only the bare essentials and spare the details, not like the full citations in a bibliography. MLA and APA have different criteria for deciding what should be included in in-text citations.

Starting with MLA format, you must contain the author’s surname and the page number. Moreover, you don’t have to put commas or abbreviations to indicate the page. 

For example, if you want to write an in-text citation with the author’s surname as John and page number 98, then you can write (John 98). 

Meanwhile, the APA format is a little bit different. Using this style, you will need to write the year. Also, use commas to separate different pieces of information in parenthetical citations. Besides, you will use abbreviations p. for page and pp. for pages

Using the same example as above, in-text citation in APA format will be (John, 2022, p. 98)

How to Make Citations and Bibliography: MLA vs APA


To make a bibliography, you will need to write down the full citations first. Writing citations of the same source will use a different structure in MLA and APA. Below is the MLA vs APA examples of how citations are supposed to look in each format:

You can follow this structure using MLA citation: Author’s last name, first name. Title in Title Case.

Example: Verne, Jules. Around The World in Eight Days. Gramedia, 2019.

For APA format, you can follow this structure: Author’s last name, initial. Title in sentence case. No period after the URL.

Example: Verne, J. (2019). Around the world in eight days. Gramedia.

Bibliography in MLA vs APA

Bibliography in MLA vs APA

The rules in formatting a bibliography are the APA and MLA similarities. When you are ready with your list of citations, you will have to format a bibliography in which the structures are pretty similar using both styles. Follow these rules for both APA and MLA in creating bibliographies:

  • Use alphabetical order by the last name of authors to list the entries.
  • The title position is in the center and top of the page (MLA’s title is Works Cited, while APA is References).
  • Use hanging indent in all entries. However, do not indent the first line, but indent the rest by half an inch.
  • Use double-spaced for the entire page.

Understanding these types of citations is essential to ace your academic paper. If you want to learn more about writing tips, you can always try to take a course. It will help you to study more effectively and practice with competent tutors.

Try Fun English Course to comprehend better MLA vs APA, including other English skills. Professional and experienced tutors will be available to deliver the best and most fun English learning experience. Take a look at our programs here!

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