Five Major Differences Between MLA And APA Writing Formats

When it comes to professional writing, MLA and APA writing formats set the precedence for quality and consistency. Having been used for years now, both have become widely accepted and highly utilized by various academic and research institutions around the globe. Although both are great formats to employ in any professional writing capacity, both are very different in their own ways. Here are five of the most profound differences between the two writing styles.


One of the most notable differences between MLA format and APA format is with what they are used for. Traditionally, MLA format is generally used in the humanities, language or literature fields. It was adopted as the professional standard for the Modern Language Association and has set forth a superior standard for scholarly writing that focuses on formatting, page layout and citations, specifically. MLA has been widely adopted by schools and academic institutions throughout the world, as it is generally considered more concise and easier to understand than several of the other commonly used writing styles. APA format, on the other hand, is most commonly used in the social science field. It is commonly used to help share data and other scientific findings in an easy to understand, clear and concise way.


If you have ever gotten the chance to practice the two writing styles, you will see that they also differ in regards to the date. For a paper written in MLA format, the date goes after the publisher’s name in the citation and is not included in parentheses. APA format, on the other hand, puts the date after the author’s name and is included in parentheses.

Author’s Name

When it comes to writing a bibliography in MLA format, the author’s name is completely spelled out – both first and last name. This is much different than APA format, which reduces the author’s first name to just the first initial. The last name is spelled out in full.


Another major difference between the two writing techniques is that not all the words are capitalized. A written bibliography in MLA format focuses on capitalizing, as well as underlining, all major words that are included in the title of the article or publication. APA format, on the other hand, only capitalizes the first letter in the first word of the title, subtitles and in any proper nouns that may follow. Rather than being underlined, the title is also put in all italics for emphasis.


Another major difference is with the source page. In MLA format, the page that all the resources are listed out on is called a “works cited” page. IN APA format, it is called a “reference” page. Click here for more!


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