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APA Style and MLA Style : The Differences Between Paper Format Styles

When writing a dissertation or thesis, your instructor probably will require you to follow one of two popular style formats for your paper, APA Style or MLA Style. Although both formats are similar, they do have subtle differences that you'll need to know. Generally, you select the style to follow based on the subject matter of the paper you're writing.

APA Style and MLA Style : The Differences Between Paper Format Styles

Brian Scott is a professional freelance writer with over a decade of experience. He recommends using an APA formatting software to correctly write and format papers in APA Style, available at http://www.masterfreelancer.com/apa-writing-style-software.php

When writing a dissertation or thesis, your instructor probably will require you to follow one of two popular style formats for your paper, APA Style or MLA Style. Although both formats are similar, they do have subtle differences that you’ll need to know.

Generally, you select the style to follow based on the subject matter of the paper you’re writing. Each style treats the formatting of the paper a little differently to meet the citation needs for the subject matter.

I. CHOOSING YOUR STYLE

For the most part, your instructor will select the style of formatting that you’ll use for your paper. If you have a choice, however, you can follow these suggestions for deciding which style to use.

APA STYLE.

Use APA for subjects related to the social sciences, such as business, criminal justice, economics, law, and medical subjects, including nursing and psychology. The American Psychological Association created the APA Style, and you can visit apastyle (dot) org on the Internet to find more information. The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association is the full listing of APA Style guidelines and APA formatting rules.

MLA STYLE.

Use MLA Style for subjects related to the humanities and liberal arts, such as literature, mass communications, and media studies. The Modern Language Association oversees the development, and you can visit mla(dot)org on the Internet for more information. For undergraduate students, use the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers (sometimes shortened to MLA Handbook) as the guide to following MLA Style. For graduate students and professionals, use the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing.

II. THE DIFFERENCES

If you still are not sure which style you should use with your paper, here are some formatting differences between APA Style and MLA Style. Choose the style that will allow you to format your paper and deliver the information to your readers in the most efficient manner.

ABSTRACT.

This difference in this category is pretty obvious: APA requires an abstract page, while MLA does not. An abstract is a short summary of your paper.

IN-TEXT CITATIONS.

With both styles, use the last name of the author(s) in any in-text citation. With APA, you also include the year of publication. With MLA, you include the page number of the information you cited along with the name of the author(s), but you do not include the year of publication. By including the year of publication, APA gives the readers a chance to decide how much relevancy to place on a particular source, based on its age. With the subject matter used with MLA, however, the age of the sourced material usually isn’t as vital to its relevancy, so MLA Style doesn’t list the year of publication.

With both styles, remember that the in-text citation is simply a method of ensuring that your readers can easily find the full citation in the reference list or works cited page at the end of the paper. You don’t need extensive information about the source for an in-text citation.

PAGE NUMBERS.

With both styles, the page number appears in the upper right corner of each page, but each style has different additional information. With APA, you must include a running title to the left of the page number on each page. A running title is a two- or three-word summary of the title of your paper. With MLA, include the author’s name to the left of the page number on each page.

REFERENCE LIST FORMATTING.

With both APA Style and MLA Style, when listing each of your sources on the reference list page (APA Style) or works cited page (MLA Style), use the full last name of the author(s) in each entry. In APA Style, you also list only the initials of the first and middle name of each author. In MLA, you spell out the entire first and middle name of each author. (Middle name information is optional.)

TITLE PAGE.

APA requires a title page, but MLA does not. If you choose to skip the title page with MLA Style, simply include your name, your instructor’s name, your course, and the full date in the upper left-hand corner of the first page. Then center the title on the page, followed by your main text.

You’ll also find several subtle differences between APA and MLA styles in capitalization and punctuation rules. However, those differences are too numerous to list here, and they probably won’t affect your decision on which style to use with your paper.

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APA Paper Format : What Pages Do I Need With My APA Style Paper?
When compiling your thesis or dissertation, the APA Style guidelines specify certain types of pages, as well as formatting guidelines for those pages. I have included the primary pages you'll need in your manuscript. Always start each of these sections on a new page. Most of them will only require one page.

How to Format a Paper in MLA Style
When formatting your paper in MLA Style, you'll need to follow a series of rules that outline all aspects of the creation of the paper. Most people think of when trying to determine how to cite sources used as references in the paper. However, MLA Style includes rules for many aspects of formatting the paper beyond citing sources. Here are 15 formatting tips you should follow.

How to Format a Paper in Chicago Manual of Style
The basic guidelines for creating a thesis, dissertation or formal paper using Chicago Manual of Style are straightforward. Most of them use common sense rules and formatting options. Use some of the guidelines listed here to format your thesis or dissertation using Chicago (Turabian) Style.

APA Paper : How to Create Footnotes and Headings in APA Style
Within the main text of your thesis or dissertation, you may need to organize the text and information beyond the standard blocks of text. You have a couple of options under APA Style. Footnotes give you the option of adding information about an idea in your text without detracting from the text. Headings allow you to organize the text into sections, similar to an outline.

What Pages Do I Need With My MLA Style Paper?
Unlike some other formal styles for writing scholarly papers, MLA Style does not specify a large number of specific pages that you must include in your paper. APA Style, for example, requires a title page, an abstract page, and a table of contents, among several other types of optional pages. MLA Style, however, does not even require a title page.

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