Essay Writing Made Easy 4 – APA vs MLA

You were assigned it in your syllabus and you’re nervously watching the days count down as the semester starts to get into full swing. It always takes so much time and effort and it’s your worst subject. Never fear! It’s not as hard as you’re making it out to be!

This is the fourth installation of the Essay Writing Made Easy series! Read the others by clicking the links below:
Essay Writing Made Easy
Essay Writing Made Easy 2
Essay Writing Made Easy 3 – Back To The Basics

Now that the school semester has ended, I wanted to talk a little bit about APA and MLA format. The intended use for each, the differences, and the best sources to use to help you master them both!

APA stands for American Psychological Association and is normally used in classes such as psychology, sociology, and other social science classes (EasyBib What is APA). APA was first developed in 1929 by a group of unnamed anthropologists, sociologists, and business managers met to create a list of guidelines to help streamline academic writing in their respective fields ( and APA style – what is APA style)

The main identifiers of this style is the use of source publication dates over page numbers. How current a source is is deemed much more important than exactly where the reference was found within the source, and it is most desirable that sources for any academic paper be within 10 years of the current date. Any older than 10 years is thought to be outdated information and claims that are backed up by this older information will not hold as strong as claims backed up with more recent sources of information.

Another identifier that is more easily found in longer papers is the use of footnotes throughout the paper. Papers of APA format are typically more research heavy than papers conducted in MLA format and, therefore, there may be the heavy use of subject specific jargon throughout the paper. Footnotes are used primarily to alert the reader of where they can gain further context on phrases or information not regarded as common knowledge (APA FootnotesEndnotes pdf).


MLA stands for Modern Language Association and is normally employed in classes such as literature, language arts, composition, and other classes of the liberal arts and humanities (OWL Purdue – MLA Abbreviations). The Modern Language Association was first founded in 1883 by Aaron Marshall Elliot, an American novelist and professor at the John Hopkins University ( and Aaron Marshall Elliot). The Modern Language Association of America even holds an annual convention to discuss MLA format and, as a result of meeting often, MLA format tends to change every couple of years in order to achieve the associations academic goal as well as possible ( About Us).

The main identifier of this style is the use of page numbers rather than the year of source publication, like in APA. There is a Works Cited instead of a References page and the use of footnotes or endnotes is very rare. The authors name is normally emphasized, allowing for the full first and last name in the Works Cited entries. Very different from APA as the last name is full but the first and middle names are only a letter.


The basics of APA are as follows:
– In-text citations are to follow an (author last name, year of publication) format.
– The list of sources at the end of an APA paper is labeled “References”
– When listing a source in the References page, you will typically follow this format:
Author, A. A. (Year of publication). Title of work: Capital letter also for subtitle. Location: Publisher.
along with minor changes if the source is not a book (OWL Purdue – Reference List: Books).

The basics of MLA are as follows:
– In-text citations are to follow an (author last name page number) format with NO comma between the information.
– The list of sources at the end of an MLA paper is labeled “Works Cited”
– When listing a source in the Works Cited, you will typically follow this format: Last, First. Title of source (will be in quotation marks if the source is a shorter work such as an article). Title of container. Publisher, Publication date, Location.
There will be more or less information based on what you can find and you will present different information for other types of sources. This is the basic format for a book (OWL Purdue – MLA Formatting and Style Guide).

Sources to use

Purdue OWL
EasyBib MLA
EasyBib APA

Thank you for reading and I hope this was helpful! Happy writing!

If you’d like more pointers and information, stay tuned for future posts!


Published by E. Lexi Abbott

A free spirit and a wild soul. I am a writer who is seeking the inspiration found in the crannies and nooks of life. My goal is to combine the world in my head with the world around me one page at a time.

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