Natural Therapies Institute

Professional ideas to improve your writing skills.

How to Write an Essay: APA Format vs. MLA Format


Any person that has ever written an academic paper for school knows that you have to cite your work.  This means you have to tell the reader where you got your information so you don’t get in trouble for plagiarizing your paper.  There are two formats usually used for citing your resources, APA and MLA.  I will show you how to do both, so you are prepared next time you have to write an essay using either.

APA Format


APA is the standard format used by most schools and colleges and it’s really easy to use. I will give you the breakdown of what is required and give you examples.

  • The first thing you must know when writing an APA paper is that you must have 12 pt. Times New Roman font and double spaced.  This may vary from the kind of font you teacher might want, but this is the standard for APA. 
  • Your paper will be broken up into four sections, Title Page, Abstract, Body, and References. 
  • The title page is easy; you place the title in the header along with the page number on the right.  This needs to be centered on the page and you need the paper title, student’s name, and then the name of your school
  • Make sure to begin a new page after every section.

The rest is the same as any other essay, so I will show you how to cite your work.  APA is very easy to do, you start with the name of the author, date, title of work, and where you found the source.


So it would look like this:

Smith, J. (2014, August 8). How to Write an Essay: APA Format vs. MLA Format. Retrieved from website’s URL.

Keep in mind that these have to be listed in alphabetical order and have to include page numbers if you use a book.  Also, you cite it in your work like this: “APA style is used in most school,” (Smith, 2014).  And add a comma after the year and page number if it is necessary.

MLA Format


MLA format is a totally different set up but also has some of the same elements like the font and spacing.  Here is how an MLA paper should look:

  • You need to put you last name and page number in the heading on the right side of your paper.  Instead of a title page, you will list you name, teachers name, course, and date on the left side before you start the paper.
  • Next the sections of the paper are numbered and are given a subtitle. You are breaking up your research into sections to cover.
  • Resources should be in this format: Author’s name. “Title of the Resource.” Title of the site or book. Date of resource. Here you write where you got the source from like web, book, journal, etc. and the date you accessed it.

So it would look like this:

Smith, John. “How to Write an Essay: APA Format vs. MLA Format.” Writing Made Easy. 1 Dec. 2013. Web. 8 August 2014. 


Put citations into the text like this: (author’s last name, page number) or just page number if you don’t know the author.  Also if you are using multiple resources by the same author, you need to write it like this: (source name, page number).


Online Resources