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Research Paper Writing Prompts: APA vs. MLA

There are many different topics available for writing a research paper, and often, a student will be given a writing prompt in order to get their research paper moving along. It can be really great to have a writing prompt for a research paper because it can help to guide the direction in which the paper is supposed to move. Some people prefer to have open assignments where they can fully choose their own topic on which to write and discuss. But other people would like to have a bit more guidance and know where the paper is supposed to go and what the paper is supposed to cover.

APA and MLA are two different formats that are used for research papers. APA and MLA formatting are often required for formatting in order to make all papers more uniform in presentation.


  • MLA stands for the Modern Language Association.
  • A Biology student would use MLA format.
  • 1-inch margins
  • Internal citation of author’s last name and page number
  • Format for first page, but no title page required


  • APA stands for American Psychological Association.
  • This paper style is generally used for psychology students.
  • 1-inch margins
  • Internal citation of author’s last name, date of publication, and page number
  • Required separate title page

One of the other differences between MLA and APA formatting of sources from the Internet. It is very important that online sources are correctly cited in both MLA and APA format. The MLA format for citing information from online sources requires inclusion of the author’s last and first name, and the title of the document, followed by the title of the complete work, the version, date, address, and the website. The APA style formatting for online resources requires the author’s last name, initials, date, title of document and complete work, version, edition, protocol, address and the website. Although these sound very similar and contain a lot of the same information, there are definite differences in formatting and therefore special caution should be taken when formatting this portion of the paper.

Working with MLA and APA formatting can be a bit daunting at first, because the formatting process intimidates many people. However, there are a lot of resources online and at the library regarding the formatting process for both APA and MLA formatting. Working with the MLA and APA formatting does take practice, but it is easily learned through all of the resources available.

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