A Short Guide to APA vs MLA Style Citation

  • Date: January 20, 2022
A Short Guide to APA vs MLA Style Citation

A great deal of mental juggling is involved when you have to deal with the two different styles of citation. Many of the students find it mind-boggling when they have to use MLA style citation in one research paper and then APA style citation in another paper. Their anxiousness is justified, as I have faced the trauma of switching between the two styles for different assignments for different professors.

The frustrating process of transitioning between the two citation styles could be frustrating, especially for students. This could cause errors that might make your professor give you a B grade instead of an A. To avoid such errors, an essay writer should familiarize yourself with the APA vs MLA style citation. In this blog, we are going to identify the key differences as well as similarities between the two widely used citation styles.

Hang on, read it till the end, if you want to ensure that your professor does not give you a bad grade just for citation errors.

Similarities between APA and MLA style citation

MLA and APA are the two most widely used citation styles across the world. Despite the differences between the two styles, which we will discuss in a moment, there are few similarities between the two. In both styles, a source is cited directly in the text by writing the last name of the author and year or page number in parenthesis. These in-text parenthetical citations correspond to complete sources listed at the end of the research paper on the references or work-cited page

The key differences: APA vs MLA

As mentioned earlier, both APA and MLA use a parenthetical, in-text citation to cite sources. So what’s the catch?

Where APA mentions the last name of the author along with the year in which the respective document was published, in MLA you have to mention the page number on which you have found the relevant information along with the last name of the author, in a parenthesis.

For example, if you have to mention any information from an excerpt from page 154 of any book, let’s say Tim Marshall’s Prisoners of Geography, which was published in 2015.

In APA, you would mention it as (Marshall, 2015). However, if you are using a direct quotation from the book you would have to mention the page number as well and it would look like (Marshall, 1969, p. 154).

On the other hand, in MLA, you would mention the excerpt, no matter if it is paraphrased or is being used directly as a quotation, you will cite it by writing authors last name and page number in the parenthesis. It would be mentioned like this (Marshall, 154).

The guidelines of the APA citation style are finalized and published by the American Psychology Association and are widely used for documentation of references in research in social sciences and education fields.

The guidelines of the MLA style citation are published by the Modern Language Association in a handbook. It is widely used in humanities.

APA vs MLA: References vs Work cited

All the parenthetical sources mentioned throughout the research paper are listed in the end on a separate page, in both citation styles. However, in APA it is titled References. Below I have listed the above mentioned Tim Marshall’s book in APA style.


Marshall, T. (2015). Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything About the World. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc.

However, in MLA the page is titled as Works cited. Below is an example of how to list a book in MLA style.

Works Cited

Marshall, Tim. Prisoners of Geography: Ten Maps that Explain Everything About the World. New York: Simon and Schuster Inc., 2015.

This short guide to MLA and APA will help you cite your sources perfectly. However, if you are not sure about your abilities, contact a reliable essay writing service to get better grades.

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