What’s the difference between APA and MLA citation styles? Understanding the differences between MLA and APA is one of the most difficult things for high school and college students to do. They are one of the most often utilized styles and forms in academic and professional writing. As students get increasingly interested in a certain topic, they will study more about MLA or APA in order to meet the requirements of their chosen academic path.

Many students, on the other hand, struggle in their early years to understand the differences between APA and MLA. This is quite typical and expected of students who apply themselves academically to their chosen academic talents and hobbies.

What Is the Difference Between APA and MLA?


The way each style references sources in-text and in bibliographies differs between MLA and APA.


The Modern Language Association publishes the MLA, which is widely used in the humanities (e.g., literature, history, philosophy, etc.).


The American Psychology Association publishes the APA, which is widely utilized in the social sciences and educational disciplines.


A third citation style known as Chicago is most commonly used in the humanities, however it only concentrates on bibliographical information (e.g., footnotes and endnotes).


Later in this post, we’ll go through the differences between MLA and APA citations in greater detail to assist you with your homework. But, for the time being, we’d want to show you how to employ Chicago style to add extra content to your written work without detracting from the main point.


You normally give the citation information within your written text when using the APA or MLA styles to cite a source (e.g., paraphrase, quote, or summary). Citation information within the text is replaced by a superscript number that corresponds to either a footnote or an endnote in Chicago style. Consider the following scenario:


Citation styles: APA vs. MLA



“Many of the medical discoveries we have accomplished in the last 20 years would not have been possible without the early French physicists’ study” (De La Cruz, 2005, p. 15).


This is an example of a direct quote, which necessitates the author’s last name, publication year, and page number. You can omit the page number for a paraphrase or summary. When a direct quote isn’t possible or the information being referenced spans numerous words, paragraphs, or pages, the latter is commonly employed.



“Our understanding of nineteenth-century works would be limited in scope if it weren’t for the American Literary Movement of the early twentieth century” (Smith 123).


The difference between an MLA and an APA in-text citation is demonstrated in the example above. You do not need to add a publication date in an MLA citation. This information is included in the bibliography portion of both APA and MLA format styles, where the complete information of a source used must be included.



“Lord Samuel believed his career in Parliament was fast coming to an end, given the impact from the political divide.”1


The sentence or phrase is then further explained in either a footnote (on the same page) or an endnote (after the main text). Consider the following scenario:


1 Lord Samuel obtained barely half of the cabinet’s support, prompting him to launch a drive to organize his surrogates in order to push through his agenda when he left.


While this paper concentrates on the differences between MLA and APA, it’s beneficial to have a basic awareness of the other main style (Chicago), as you’ll likely come across multiple sources in your research that follow its guidelines, regardless of your discipline.


Is it easier to use MLA or APA?


When comparing MLA with APA, the distinctions are minor. One of the most significant differences between the two is how they are used to cite sources, as well as the most prevalent fields to which they are applied. The following are some additional details to be aware of for each:


MLA Format (8th edition)






APA Format (7th edition)





Always confer with your lecturer and examine your homework prompt before deciding whether to use APA or MLA. When you’re in high school, most teachers will tell you to use MLA because it’s thought to be a little easier. However, as you can see, the parallels between the two are striking, so by the time you get to college, you should be well-versed on the differences between APA and MLA.


What Is the Difference Between APA and MLA Citation Styles?


In-text citations, which include the author’s name within the text, are another significant distinction between MLA and APA. Consider the following scenario:



“Educational freedom is a fundamental aspect of our nation’s history and should be safeguarded throughout the country,” says Dr. Gonzalez (25).



“Educational freedom is a fundamental component of our nation’s heritage and should be safeguarded throughout the country,” says Dr. Gonzalez (2015). (p. 25).


Again, the differences between MLA and APA are minor, but they exist. According to MLA guidelines, there is no need to list the year in parentheses in the first example. In the second example, you put the year right after the author’s name in the text and just provide the page number in parentheses, as per APA guidelines.


MLA Bibliography vs. APA Bibliography


We’ll look at two instances of MLA and APA citations as they should be utilized in the bibliography portion of an academic document. MLA should begin on a separate page, whereas APA should begin on a single page. Here are some MLA vs APA samples of how these pages should be laid out:



Samuel De Haro, Samuel De Haro, Samuel De Haro, Samuel De Haro Abigail Trigby’s Life and Times. Lost Library Press, Philadelphia, PA. 2016.


Mark, Gerald. Women’s Voting Rights Must Be Accepted. City of Lost Souls Press, New York, NY. 2013.



  1. De Haro, S. De Haro, S. De Haro, S (2016). Abigail Trigby’s Life and Times. Lost Library Press, Philadelphia, PA.


  1. Gerald Accepting Women’s Voting Rights (2013). City of Lost Souls Press, New York, NY.


The entries are ordered in alphabetical order by the authors’ last names in both cases above. The APA recommends that you only use the first name initial and that you put the publication year right after the name. You must put a double space between each entry in each format. If there are two or more writers, keep them in the same alphabetical order.


Need more information on MLA vs. APA?


This MLA vs. APA guide is just one of the many resources our team of academic specialists has created to assist students of all levels in their academic pursuits. Please have a look at our other publications, such as this APA manual, and leave a comment or send us a mail to let us know how we’re doing. If you require individual assistance, we can connect you with a trained academic specialist who can help you with any assignment, whether it is written in APA, MLA, or even Chicago. Give us a call, send us an email, or chat with us if you have any questions about the differences between MLA and APA format. Our customer service team is accessible 24 hours a day, 7 days a week to address any questions you may have.