APA vs MLA Usage Guide

May 18, 2023 Martha Simons

Table of Contents

APA vs MLA Usage Guide

Every world has laws that govern that realm’s behavior and attitudes. In the real world, the laws and nature and that of man regulate the affairs of man, as for the virtual realm, reputation, and brand is everything. In the academic world, however, writing style and formatting dictate whether a piece of writing is worthy of any time or effort from the readers or not.

The writing style guides have been in existence for millennia. Scholars used to put special characters in and around texts to help readers pinpoint the source of the information. In the modern world, style guides play a crucial role in publishing authentic works. This blog will discuss the nature and standard guidelines of the two most influential writing guides – APA and MLA.

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Development of APA Style

American Psychology Association Style or APA Style originated in the earlier part of the 20th century. Its inception is to provide clear guidelines and a roadmap for writers to produce original text for books and periodicals. In 1929, the first comprehensive guidelines were published and gained popularity beyond the Psychology and social sciences discipline. 

This allowed authors to come up with a clear and logical structure of the piece along with a unique style for references and citations. The most important aspect is to have flexibility and uniformity across the standard. Also, scholars want to provide a clear blueprint to the readers where they were not distracted by the subject but get more from the reading. Proper headlines, citation lists, and plagiarism-free text are some of the best practices prescribed in the guide. Another exceptional thing about APA is that its guidelines have been constantly updated to make room for progressive and non-evasive language in academia.

Standard Guidelines

Following are the standard guidelines that all students who wish to write in APA style need to follow:

  • Double-spacing in lines and texts
  • Font size: 12 pts; Font style, Times New Roman
  • One-inch margins on both vertical and horizontal sides
  • The upper right page of the work should have a page number and a short title of the work
  • Footnotes and endnote paragraphs, all should be double-spaced
  • In-text citations include the name of the author, year of work publication, and page number
  • Writers need to follow bibliographical order in reference lists
  • They should follow alphabetical order for writers and chronological order for works
  • The title is in the center of the first page
  • Authors need to insert Abstract for lengthy papers

Development of MLA Style

Contrary to APA, there was no central organization or set of minds behind the development of MLA. Modern Language Association or MLA style guide was developed to provide uniform tools for scholars to research and authenticate scientific works. The main target field was humanities, such as Literature, History, Sociology, and so on.

The hallmarks of the MLA style guide include its attention to detail toward references and citations. It is more detailed and vast compared to APA. Another area where it contrasts with APA is the focal point. The former is more concerned about the names of the writers and there is no clear discrimination between old and new sources. However, the latter is more gravitated toward books and publications, with more appreciation for recent works.

Standard Guidelines

  • Lines are double-spaced
  • The one-inch standard for margins on both sides
  • Font style: Times New Roman. Font size: 12 pts
  • The list of cited works in the bibliographical form
  • Use of alphabetical order for both authors and their works
  • In-text citations only use the first name of the author and the page number of the work
  • There is no extra line break between citations
  • The author’s name and page number are written on the upper right corner of the page
  • The titles for articles are written in parenthesis and every initial is capitalized

MLA Format Vs APA – The Better One?

In the academic discourse, we often come across things that are hard to compare because one is superior to another. However, when it comes to APA vs MLA format, there is no competition between the two. The reason is that scholars have already defined their areas of influence in terms of industries and disciplines. 

Also, the application and flexibility of the formats depend on their use cases. For instance, when you are working on a piece of fiction, it is best to use MLA because it focuses on the author and the page number of the work. However, when you are dealing with academic articles that are often published and distributed online, APA with its options for in-text citations seems like a better choice.

Again, there is no absolute better in the race between the two. Both have their merits and the writers have to ensure that readers have the leverage in going through the text.

Application of Style Format In Different Disciplines

As mentioned in the previous section, one formatting style is not better than the other. There are certain advantages for one compared to the other in specific conditions. However, when you need to write a paper and you need to choose one style throughout the paper, what would it be?

First, many professors specify the formatting style that you want to follow in your research papers and essays. When that is the case, you do not decide for yourself. However, when it is up to you, it is best to see what area or subject you are exploring in your writing.

Social Sciences

APA is the primary choice of scholars who are working in social sciences. This includes Psychology, Sociology, Nursing, Criminology, Social Work, Business, Education, and so on.


As for the Humanities, MLA is the most suitable one as it covers the authors’ names and the page number of the text quite naturally. History, Literature, Language, Philosophy, Arts, Theatre, Religion, Anthropology, and Law and Politics are some of the areas of interest in this line.

Final Thoughts

Writing an essay or a paper is already a lot of work. But when you have to incorporate a specific formatting style, it becomes more complicated. Since students lack experience in handling the subtle elements of academic writing, they dread the prospect of writing an essay in a specific style and form. To address these issues, we have created a short guide on the basics of MLA and APA along with the standard guidelines. We believe that the insights will empower writers to write better and more influential papers and essays at all academic levels. If you are looking for professional authors to “pay to do my essay”, we are the best in business. Fill out the submission form with the deadline, and we will see you on the other side!

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