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The good writing of an essay or research work depends upon author’s knowledge of rules and styles of the project formatting. The brief review of APA and MLA styles might help to improve the skills of writing.

The American Psychological Association (APA) style was founded in 1929 by a group of researchers, who tried to find ways of simplifying the rules of scientific writing. It is commonly used in such disciplines as psychology, nursing, education, and business.

In 1883, the members of the organization advancing the humanities set up the Modern Language Association (MLA). The aim of their efforts was to create a systematic technique for writing papers. Focusing on the English language and literature, the MLA succeeded in composing the appropriate standards within the liberal arts. Writings on music, theater, dance, film, art, philosophy, or religion require exactly this documenting method.

Nowadays, thus, the forth style guides of the APA and the MLA represent the two leading formatting styles used for formal citation. There are many differences in page layouts between the two styles, however, APA and MLA methods include similar elements such as cross- referencing, manual guidelines, in-text citations, and works cited (MLA) or references (APA). These options help the students or independent writers to avoid plagiarizing of other literary works.

The works of students are usually graded for grammar, spelling, punctuation, as well as content. That is the reason to follow carefully the set rules of writing styles.

 Generally describing the features of MLA style, it should be mentioned that this kind of paper does not require the title page, all the borrowed information must be in-text cited, pagination is necessary.  The above mentioned style obligates thesis statement creating, so does APA, as well. Hacker and Sommers state that thesis is “a one sentence statement of your central idea.”.

In contrast to MLA, APA style requires title page with running head, page number for quotations, summaries, and paraphrases. Use of headings to help people in organizing the paper is recommended.

In both styles the text should be double-spaced, typed on standard-seized (8.5"11") paper. The documents in MLA as well as APA must have 1 inch margins on all sides. Times New Roman 12 pt. font is preferable. Only one space can be left after periods or punctuation marks. Most of the paragraphs in the document body should have half-inch indent from the left margin. MLA and APA recommend using the Tab key to format paragraph.

The first page of the work written in MLA style starts with the writer’s and instructor’s names, the course title and the date. This information should be listed in the top left-hand corner. The title of an essay has to be centered and written in conventional system of capitalization. As follows, all the words of a title should be capitalized, excluding articles, prepositions, coordinating conjunctions, and the word to in infinitives. A writer’s surname and the page number are placed in the upper right-hand corner. After single space, an author can start typing the main entry.

 The first page of the article written in APA style is distinct in presentation. In fact, the first page and title page act as the same. So, it should contain the title, the author’s name and institutional affiliation. The page header looks like this:


The title has to be in the upper part of the document. The author’s name and the location of conducting research should be placed beneath the title.

When writing an essay or a research work writer should follow all the general punctuation rules of English grammar. The correct use of comma, semicolon, colon, parenthesis, or dash provides the upgrading of the writing project. A Writer’s Reference 7th edition by Hacker and Sommers can help to review the material, shown in chapters P1-P10. Special emphasis is given on the firm principles of quotation marks usage in the paper. For example, commas always go inside quotation marks. The single quotes should be applied for quotes within quotes. Only direct speech requires placing this punctuation symbol according with the logic: if a question concerns the quoted part, the question mark should be put inside the quotation marks. “We can not use quotation marks with quoted material that is more than three lines in length”. (Straus, n.p.) In addition, the writers must clearly define the length of quotations because the ways of formatting depend on it. The four or less lined MLA style citations are considered short ones and those, consisting of more than five lines, long. It is worthy of note that short quotes of APA consist of fewer than 40 words. If the word count is 40 or more, there is a long quotation sample. When citing long sections, it is recommended to keep block quotation format. As evidence of that, Hacker and Sommers point out that “Quotation marks are not needed when a quotation has been set off from the text by indenting.”.

Punctuation rules are similar in both styles, but when speaking about the block quote, there is a clear difference between them. APA requires the ½-inch indention (1 tab) versus 1-inch indention (2 tabs) for MLA.

To follow the formatting and punctuation rules is not enough for creating an accurate and effective essay. The content, the sentence structures should be assigned in a professional manner. For example, dropping the quotation into your paper without announcing it confuses the reader when relating the quoted material to your own ideas. A common way to integrate the quotes into the writing smoothly is to use signal phrases. To avoid monotony the signal phrases should be varied through using the verbs characterising the idea most closely. The words like claim, describe, point out, confirm, state, report, maintain, and the others would be an asset. The following MLA sample signal phrases show how to avoid repetition in their usage:

Serrano and Coronado argue that “...”

Sir Winston Churchill offers this wise advice: "..."

“.. ,” asserts the late Arizona Senator.

The blank spaces in the above samples suppose placing of the would-be citations that should be followed with a page number for printed sources. MLA guideline postulates using signal phrases in the present tense versus utilizing APA citation along with the past tense verbs.

Examples of APA style signal phrase usage:

Hatzenbuehler (2000) claimed that “...”;

Adkison and Leonard (2001) countered that “...”.

As the sample shows, the last name of the source is followed by the year of publication in

parentheses and a verb “which reflects his or her tone, attitude and position.(CobbCountySchool District, n.p.)

The aforesaid material along with signal phrases engages the rules of in-text citations usage.

Detailed research on this matter explains when and how to apply the quotes in a text. As it is declared in Hacker’s handbook, “You must cite anything you borrow from a source, including direct quotations; statistics and other specific facts”. Common knowledge, well-known quotations and proverbs do not need to be cited. Both MLA and APA use page numbers for in-text citations, however, all the differences should be taken into consideration. MLA quotation requires indicating a reference page in parentheses if the author is named in the signal phrase; providing the end of a sentence with the name and page number if the author is unnamed.

 The examples from Ivy Tech Citation Handbook (6) can help to clarify the rules:

According to computer expert John Smith, “People, not computers, will create Millennium Mania”.

One computer expert claims that “people, not computers, will create Millennium Mania”.

The Community of Ivy Tech College gives also an explanation regarding in-text citations in APA style: “If the author is named in signal phrase, include the year of publication in parentheses and a page reference at the end”, and the other rule claims that “if the author is unnamed…, provide the name, date and page number at the end ” .

Examples of APA in-text citation:  

According to Smith (1999), a computer expert, “People, not computers, will create Millennium Mania”.

One computer expert claims, “people, not computers will create Millennium Mania.

When citing two or more authors in APA and MLA, it is necessary to name all of them in signal phrase or in the parentheses. In subsequent citations the writer can use “” after pointing the first author’s last name. The guidelines of both styles recommend citing the source by its title if the author is unknown. Organization, being itself the author, can be mentioned in signal phrase. In APA paper, if possible, the author-date style should be used during citing an electronic document. If the date and author are unknown, the researcher can use the title in the signal phrase and the abbreviation “n.d.” along with the title words in parentheses. If an Internet cite does not have page numbers, both MLA and APA consider you should offer other location details, such as paragraph, section or track. Indirect quotations should be defined through the pointing the contraction “qtd.” and the source of imported information.

MLA, as well as APA, follows the basic rules for correct in-text citation. Besides the basic author-page style the writer usually faces the other variants of citation, depending on the origin of the sources. Thus, when print sources have no author, it’s acceptable to use a shorten form of a title, providing it with a page number. If a work lacks page numbers, the writer can include nothing but the author name. The principles of MLA in-text citations are analogous to those ones in APA, excluding the fact of pointing the year of publication in APA style. The abbreviations like “qtd.”, “et. al.” MLA paper researcher uses on the same points as APA writer. If the paper cites some volumes of a multivolume work, the writer has to indicate the volume he or she is referring to. The name of the selection author (not the editor of anthology) should be designated when citing such a source. To cite legislative acts, it is prescribed to name the act or case either in signal phrase or parentheses. The rules of citations from the numerous sources are in an accessible form presented in the Writer’s Reference handbook by Diana Hacker and Nancy Sommers (see ch. MLA4a, APA4a) In addition, the guidelines shows how to organize the right sample of Works Cited in MLA or References in APA. The differences in citing sources between two styles are shown below.  MLA Works Cited Format (a printed book as a source):

Author’s Last Name, First Name, Title, City: Publisher, Date. Publication Medium. Dobson, James, C. The New Strong-Willed Child. Wheaton: Tyndale House, 2004. Print.

APA References Format (a printed book as a source):

Author’s Last Name, First Initial. (Year). Title. City. State if needed: Publisher.

Dobson, J. (2004). The new strong-willed child. Wheaton, IL: Tyndale House.

Thus, Ivy Tech Citation Book (8) demonstrates the smallest details to be considered when preparing the list of sources. The formatting of the latter varies depending on the quantity of authors, the origin of sources, the kinds of documents and so on. The authorized on-line resources, such as Purdue Online Writing Lab, as well as printed student’s guidelines can help in detailed studying on this matter.

So, the differences between the two styles consist in the following:

MLA requires author-page method of citation, author’s full name on first mention, present tense verb in signal phrase versus past tense, medium of publication designation; APA suppose author-dare method of citation, author’s last name only, past or present tense verb in signal phrases, digital object identifier (DOI) or document number.

Code: Sample20

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