How to Write a Term Paper - Differences Between MLA and APA


Every student will be asked to write an essay many times in the course of their academic studies. Particularly in college they will be asked to submit an essay in either the MLA format or the APA format. Both formats are similar yet each has their own peculiarities. It will be very rare for a college to ask its students to present their essays in different formats. In almost every situation the college will have a preference. It is your lot, as the student writing the essay, to make sure you know what is required.

Now while this article is about the main differences between the two formats, the best way to tackle your essay is to make a list of what is required according to each format and have that beside you. Once you complete your essay, you go through your checklist and adjust accordingly. Of course you can set up the software you use to write your essay so that their requirements are met automatically.

The main differences between the MLA and the APA formats


  • Every major word in the title is in capital letters in the title is underlined with the MLA format. In the APA format, only the first word of the title is in caps. The proper nouns in the title is written using italics.

  • In the MLA format, the source page is called Works cited. In the APA format the source page is referred to as references. Both of them contain references and both of them cite works but their title varies.

  • There are many little things which differentiate the two formats. For example in citing references in the MLA format, the date of the publication follows the name of the publisher and is not put in brackets. In the APA format the date follows the name of the author and is placed in brackets.

  • In the MLA format the full name of the author is written. In the APA format only the last name of the author is written and the first name is expressed with an initial.

Even those are minor things and they are part of the differences between the two formats. As mentioned before, rather than concentrate on the differences, simply make a list of what is required for each format. If that is the format you are required to follow, then follow the rules.

Online writing help