Everybody thinks that content is more important than the shape of text. However, this statement is very disputable. For example, practically each student may tell you the story how his/her work was returned because of the improper layout. Hence, execution is the face of your work, its actual appearance.
When formatted in a proper way, your text will look tidy and will create a good first impression, which is also very important for having a good mark. Certainly, academic writers needed by many professional organizations have particular requirements on how to execute their texts’, and knowledge of formatting may be very handy if you want to pursue a writing career.
The MLA and the APA formatting standards
Talking about different standards, we should remember two most popular organizations: the Modern Language Association (MLA) and the American Psychological Association (APA), which regulate the rules of document formatting and citation. Eventually, all these rules have become the basis for two writing guidelines now used all over the world. Therefore, it is important to know what is prescribed by these guidelines.
To create the text meeting the requirements of the MLA style, you should keep in mind the following recommendations while typing:
- The most common font for all academic papers is 12-point Times New Roman. This is the most popular font in different countries worldwide.
- All sides of the document should have one-inch margin.
- The entire text must be aligned at the left margin. To do it, choose the function “Align Left.”
- Use double-space function to format your text according to the standard.
It is important to mention that the APA format has similar requirements of page formatting. However, the main differences between these guidelines touch upon citing sources and the list of references necessary for each paper. The APA standard prescribes the following citation style:
- The list of materials used in research should be called “References.”
- Enumerating works cited, give the last name and the initial of his/her first name.
- When information is cited and the author is mentioned within the sentence, you should place the year of publication.
- When information is cited and the author is not listed, give the author’s last name and the year the material was published at the end.
- The APA style uses commas to separate materials from each other, and if a page is mentioned, uses p. and pp. abbreviations.
Of course, these points in the MLA guidelines differ from APA standards. Otherwise, there would be no necessity to create two guidelines. So, the MLA guide advises the following rules of citation:
- The list of materials should be called “Work cited.”
- Enumerating cited materials, give the last name with the full first name of the author.
- When information is cited and the author is mentioned in the sentence, you should place the page number of that citation.
- When information is cited and the author is not mentioned in the sentence, give his/her last name and the page number at the end in parentheses.
- The MLA style does not use commas to separate the source data in brackets.
Certainly, all these differences are very important for your paper because it can be returned to you due to wrong referencing. As a result, the last question is what style is more preferable for you. The answer is simple: the APA style is typically used in the social sciences (i.e.: Psychology, Sociology, Social Work) while the MLA guideline is usual for the Humanities. Now, using the information from the article, you will be able to format your papers in a proper way, and get your A-grades.