Life Style

A Guide to the Key Differences Between MLA, APA, and Harvard Style of Writing

Essays, assignments, dissertations, and research papers need proper citations of relevant sources. You should be familiar with the system’s preferred citation format if you’re writing an essay for submission to that system. 

The American Psychological Association (APA), the Modern Language Association (MLA), Chicago, Harvard, and Vancouver are just a few of the various citation styles utilized in scholarly writings. There are variances between the styles, even though they all have the same overarching goal of presenting the written content in an official, businesslike structure. 

Let’s dig in and find out more about them:


Domain distinguishes the reference styles. The arts and humanities employ MLA citations. Social scientists utilize the APA style. Humanities, natural, and social sciences employ Harvard referencing.

In-Text Citations

APA: If there is just one author, only the last name and publishing year are included. The same applies to using an ampersand (&) to join the names of several authors, followed by the year of publication. If there are more than three writers, just the first author is listed, followed by et al. (which indicates others) and the year. In addition, several references are included in the same set of parentheses separated by semicolons.

MLA: If numerous authors exist for a work, the last name must be given in the parenthetical citation. If there are more than two writers, the first author’s name is listed, followed by et al.

Harvard: When there are two or more authors for a piece, their names should be included in the same order as the source used to create the citation. If there are four or more writers, the et al. comes after the first author’s surname, as in APA style.

Author’s Name

The last name is included in the APA reference, and the first name is abbreviated, but in MLA citing, both the author’s first and last names are included. There are parallels between the APA and Harvard referencing systems.


The APA Referencing System uses “References,” whereas the Harvard Referencing System uses “References List.” Referencing your sources in MLA style requires a “Works Cited” page.

While there are many similarities between MLA, Harvard, and APA, each has a distinct citation and formatting approach. Write your school paper in the format specified by your instructor.

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