Mastering Academic Citations : A Comprehensive Guide To APA And MLA Differences

time14-Dec-2023 07:42 AM

Assignments are incomplete without proper citations. Citations are the key to maintaining the credibility of the work. They add a finishing touch to the project and bring out professionalism.

They validate the information and argument presented in your assessment building the author’s research. They also demonstrate the author’s commitment and maintain academic integrity by giving due credit to other author’s work. They come with a variety of benefits:

  • Support and Evidence: They provide backup for supporting evidence for the arguments presented. It benefits the readers to locate the origin of ideas, theories and data. One can verify the information and do more research on the subject matter. 

  • Building on Existing Knowledge: It enables scholars and researchers to expand their knowledge. It contributes to the ongoing scholarly conversation and fosters academic advancement in the discipline. 

  • Avoiding Plagiarism: Plagiarism is a serious academic offence and can spoil your grades. Accurate citations distinguish between original ideas and the ones which you have borrowed from other authors. 

  • Credibility and Integrity: They bring credibility by giving the due mention to the authors. This way scholarly integrity also remains maintained. 

It is evident that they hold great significance in the field of academics. Now, how to do it? Don’t worry, we have got your back. In this blog, we will cover the different types of citations and how you can approach them

APA Style

APA also known as the American Psychological Association is predominantly used in disciplines like social sciences, psychology, education and similar subjects. With its right use, individuals can make their projects more consistent, clear and reliable. Some of its key features are:

  • In-text citations: It utilises the author-date citation system. It includes the author’s name and the publication year in parentheses with the text. It also includes page numbers right after the year. For example (Smith, 2020, p.45)

  • References: It is a heading that contains a comprehensive list of the sources cited in the paper. It contains the details in the set standard and contains information like author(s), publication year, title, and source. 

  • Formatting Specifics: Some of the specifications are font, size, and margins. The recommended style is Times New Roman, 12pt, and double-spaced margins. Title pages include a running head aligned to the left and the page number aligned to the right. A hierarchical structure is followed while writing the headings. 

Where To Use APA Style ?

THE APA style is used in several disciplines like psychology, sociology, education and behavioural science. Its systematic approach, clarity and ability to convey information precisely make it favourable.

Because of its well-structured format, individuals can use it in research findings, and theories. They are often used in books. An example of a similar reference entry is “Smith, J. (2019).The Power of Imagination. XYZ Publishing.“

Some of its other uses are journal articles, websites, and newspaper articles. You can use our professional services like psychology assignment writing help and get work with proper citations. 

MLA Style

MLA also known as Modern Language Association is widely used in humanities, literature and arts disciplines. They make clear documentation happen in the academic setting. Some of its premium features are:

  • In-Text Citations: It uses the author-page format, giving the author’s last name first and the page number from the cited source all in parenthesis. For example (Smith 25)

  • Works Cited Pages: It lists all the sources cited in the document under the title “Works cited”. They are organised alphabetically by the author’s last name. In case the name is not available then the title is used. 

  • Formatting Specifics: There is no specification for the title page. However, students need to keep double-spaced,1-inch margins, use a legible font like Times New Roman and include the author’s last name and page number in the header. 

Where To Use MLA Style ?

It is used in a number of subjects like humanities, and other arts disciplines. It is used in books, journals, websites, and newspaper articles.

Let's understand how it is used in the mentioned places:

  • Book: Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Year. 

  • Journal Articles: Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article”. Title of Journal, Volume Number, Issue Number, Publication Year, Page Numbers

  • Websites: Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Web Page”. Title of Website, Publisher or Sponsor, Publication Date, URL.

Differences between APA and MLA

After learning both styles, let's have a look at the differences between these citations:

  • Format: The primary difference is that APA uses author-date format whereas MLA uses author-page format. The primary writes (Smith, 2020), whereas the latter uses (Smith 25). 

  • Punctuation: APA uses a comma to separate the contents in in-text citations, whereas MLA includes no comma in between. 

  • Capitalisations: APA capitalises the first letter of the word in the title, subtitle and proper nouns in references and bibliographies, whereas MLA capitalises the first letter of every major word in titles and subtitles. It does not include articles, conjunctions, and prepositions in references and bibliographies. 

  • Placement: APA places in-text citations within parenthesis at the end of a sentence or phrase. MLA on the other hand places in-text citations directly after the referenced information within the text. 

  • Reference Lists/Bibliographies: APA includes a” References” page that lists all the sources cited in alphabetical order. MLA on the other hand features “word cited” arranging all the citations alphabetically by author's last name. 

Hence, these are tiny points but make a vast difference to these styles, and cater to different specific requirements of different academic disciplines. With a fine understanding of these subjects, students can make their assignments more professional. 

How To Choose The Right Style?

The right citations depend on a number of factors like:

  • Academic Discipline: APA is used mostly in subjects like social science, psychology, business and education. In case if you are studying humanities, literature, arts and related subjects then go for MLA. 

  • Preferences: Consider the guidelines provided by your instructor or the university. In case they have specified any guidelines then adhere to them. 

  • Publication Requirements: Every publication has a mentioned style. Both APA and MLA are suitable for those, hence check the guidelines first and use citations appropriately. 

  • Source Material: In case you are working on more factual data like research papers then APA works better and if you are writing humanities papers, then MLA is preferred. 

  • Regional or Institutional Norms: It also varies region by region. Check with your institution about the preferred writing method and apply it. 

  • Consistency: Do not switch between or include both styles in the same document. Use one style consistently, and maintain coherence and professionalism. 

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In conclusion, understanding the differences between the APA and MLA styles is critical for academic writing. There are variations in reference list arrangement, capitalization norms, punctuation, and citation placement. In addition to validating research, they also show a dedication to scholarly standards, which promotes lively and reliable academic discourse. 

Gaining proficiency in these varied writing styles is necessary for producing high-quality academic writing. This in turn enhances academic research and advances our understanding of a variety of subject areas. You can refer to professional platforms like Digi Assignment Help to get the desired help and understand how to use citations to make your assignments more credible. 

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