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MLA Citation Guide

01 Mar 2018

Why is it important to keep sources used to create particular academic paper cited? The main goal is to avoid plagiarism! Without doubts, student (even the most diligent one) can’t find effective way that would allow him to write such big and serious work like dissertation or research without using additional materials. It is normal, which is why it is not prohibited by universities. Without doubt, just well cited sources can allow students to use as much information from the eternal sources as needed without being accused of plagiarism. That is why it is important to make citations.

We can distinguish many different ways to cite a source. We are going to discuss one of the most popular one – MLA, used by students and scientists. If you are writing paper using MLA, this article is for you.

What do you need to know? The author of such work is required to follow certain recommendations and rules that are specified in recent edition of this style’s manual. If you do not want to spend time on searching for this manual and reading it, we have gathered all the important aspects of this style in one article to help save some time! Find a complete guide below.

MLA Citation Guide

The Definition Of MLA Citation Guide And Where It Is Applied

The MLA citation format is universal and the most widely-applied set of norms of formatting and source citing, it is used by students and scientists from all around the world to format their scientific and academic documents.

The author of this format is the Modern Language Association. The style is applied to various articles, documents, and other papers created for subject related to field of humanities by students or scientists from Canada, USA, and other countries. MLA format is applied to the works that require the author to study English or other modern languages or literature, conduct comparative analysis, literary criticism, studies of the media, cultural studies, and other related disciplines.

Where to find style guidelines? Students can find official MLA format citation manual prepared for students of different levels, it contains comprehensive description of requirements, rules, and recommendations applied to papers written in this style.

If you were assigned to create your own scientific article or academic paper, following the above-mentioned style, you have to follow universal standards and requirements of this format, and below you can find list of comprehensive MLA citation guidelines. Follow our recommendations to write good work!

Start With Preparing A Cover Page

You have to note that you are not assumed to create cover page for your paper if this requirement was not specified in the guidelines provide to you by teacher, who assigned the work to you. This part of the work is not obligatory to submit. Knowing that cover page is not required by this particular format, it is important to get clear instructions related to this moment with your professor if you did not get such note in paper’s requirements given to you. The majority of documents created in MLA citation format do not have cover page.

We can see some exceptions. If your project is bigger than average one, your teacher can ask you to include cover page and if this happens, below are some basic rules you will have to follow:

  • Leave one third from page’s top blank and place title on following line, locating it in center of page;
  • If topic of project has subheading in addition to main title, they have to be placed on the same line, separated by colon;
  • Every first letter of each word contained in your work’s name has to be capital, except articles and prepositions that do not stand right at the beginning of your heading;
  • Note that next line after project’s title should contain one centered word “By”;
  • The following line should contain your full name followed by the surname;
  • At the bottom of page (you have to leave about two thirds from page’s top blank) state title and number of your course;
  • On following line, state your professor’s full name;
  • Final line of your cover page should be filled with date of assignment’s submission formatted using following manner: Month Day (using a number) and Year (using a number).

These rules should help you format your cover page correctly. Read further to find out more details on how to create MLA format citations and what format to stick to if you faced the need to write a work in this style.

What Are General Rules Of Using MLA Citation Style?

To help you understand format of this style in details, we would like to start with set of general requirements applied to text:

  • The whole text should be located with one-inch margins from every side;
  • It is required to use double spacing starting from the first page of your work, no additional intervals are allowed between lines or paragraphs;
  • The standard font settings should be following: 12-point size and Times New Roman font (it is allowed to use another fond if necessary but it should not be big or complex, you have to ensure that chosen font is easy to read);
  • At the top of every page of your paper, you need to include header with your family name and number of every particular page.

Rules we have provided above have to be met. If you have to submit work in MLA and what it to impress your professor or score the highest evaluation, you have to pay attention even to the smallest details in your text’s design because even insignificant violation of these guidelines can result in a low grade!

How Should Your First Page Look?

Despite the fact that many students neglect the importance of following right design of opening page, it is still a significant thing that you should be aware of because it is mistake that your professor will notice when reading your work.

How to format your opening page? You need to follow same recommendations that were provided for your cover page. On this page, you have to provide same information that includes your name, course, teacher’s name, date, etc. Requirements to format are same that you have for cover page.

After specifying required data, you can start writing text of your work without additional interval – just place introductory clause of your paper on following line after date of assignment’s submission. Do not forget to align whole text to the left.

MLA Citation Style

What Format To Use For Your Text?

In addition to general requirements to paper’s design, you should apply certain settings to your text that include:

  • 1/2 inch indent of opening line of every new paragraph;
  • Divide text into subheadings if it is possible;
  • If your paper’s volume is big and professor asked you to include different sections with subheadings, remember that in MLA format, it is recommended to number each section with Arabic numeral and a period followed by name of new section;
  • Titles of sections and every word in them should be capitalized;
  • Sections’ titles have to be located in center of page and take separate line.

How To Cite In MLA?

This is question students ask prior others. Without doubt, well cited sources are the key to your success – it is something every student understands but not everyone understands how to do it right. Below is a list of things you should know.

  1. Using this format, you have to include name of source in parentheses after placing borrowed quotes, idea, paraphrases;
  2. If you have more information about source where you got information, it will be good to include author's surname and page where the material was found;
  3. If specific information was found on the Internet and does not have a page number, specify just author's surname and source's name;
  4. If you could not find name of author or it is simply unknown, you are allowed to specify just name of original source;
  5. If you have mentioned author's name earlier in sentence, before stating quote or idea, you have no need to state it one more time in parentheses;
  6. If quote appears within your text, it does not require special formatting and can be treated like simple text;
  7. Do not forget to make some sort of introduction before adding quotes, you should not insert plain quotes without some explanation from your side;
  8. Put a comma or period after parentheses;
  9. Be attentive to longer quotations – any quote that is longer than three lines should stand without the quotation marks, have indentation of 1/2 inch and start on a new line, separated from the rest of the text;
  10. You will still need to specify source in parentheses after long quote.

These are some basic rules to follow.

The Endnotes Page

This page should have the same title "Endnotes" located in the center of page, in simple form, without use of italics, bold, underlined fonts. Sometimes, you may have to add both endnotes and footnotes to your work. Be careful not to confuse them! Endnotes should be indicated on separate page called “endnotes”, it is located at the end of the work itself. Usual footnotes, on the contrary, are placed at end of page where they appear, providing immediate clarification of given information.

Remember that every endnote has to have a number. If you used automatic end-of-text program built into your text editor, they should appear on the endnotes page in already numbered form just like you have numbered them in the text itself. If you did not automate the addition of endnotes, make sure that each of them is numbered with Arabic numerals that correspond to the numbers of these notes in main text of your work. Opening line of each endnote should have indentation of 1/2 inch.

Endnotes should contain brief but important information that was not provided within text because it did not fit by its nature to paragraph to which it refers.

Another significant thing to remember is that every one of your endnotes should not be longer than three or four lines, you should avoid big amounts of information and do not add new discussion points to endnotes.

What Is The Correct Bibliography Page Format?

Everyone who is wondering “how to cite MLA style?” should understand that citing used sources well is the key to creating a high-quality work that will deserve the highest grade. That is why bibliography is your paper’s most significant element. Generally, a bibliography is final section of scientific document or paper that presents a full list of references and bibliographical information about every source that was used, placed in a specific sequence and format.

How should a correct MLA bibliography look? A bibliography is obligatory part of text in accordance with MLA guide. This explains why you can’t skip working on it, but if you have no idea how to make it well, below you can find some general requirements:

  • At the top of page, centered, should appear heading of this section “Bibliography” in a simple font (not bold, italics, or underlines);
  • It is important to add EVERY source that you used to prepare base for your study to this list;
  • Every point from list of sources should be located in a specific place, defined by surname of its author (you have to use alphabetical sequence) or by title of source if you did not find author.

This is not all you have to remember. Apart from general recommendations to design of this page, style provides several separate set of rules for referring to different types of sources.

What do you need to know if you cite a book? Format of book citation is pretty common and consists of standard bibliographical elements like author, name of book, information related to publisher and publication. Now we will look at every element separately.

When you add name of author who wrote a particular book you have to do it in the following way – Family Name, Name and follow it by point.

The title of a book is written in italics. Do not forget to ensure that each word in the name starts with capital letter, put point after indicating name of book.

Publication details. This is the final element that should include following details about the book you have used: city, publisher, and a year when it was published. Following after point, you need to state the form of publication (it can be e-book, printed edition, or another type).

How should you cite article? If among other sources you have used articles taken from scientific journals, you have to follow different format when adding reference to it in your bibliography. Apart from name of author, you have to specify journal’s title, details of its release, and type of publication. See a detailed guide below.

Start with the author: state his family name, put a coma, and specify the name followed by the point.

Include title of article. Not like with name of the book, we do not italicize article’s title. Instead, you have to put it in quotation marks, keeping first letters of every word in title in all caps, put a point.

The name of journal should be italicized. Every first letter is capital.

Finally, you have to add number of issue followed by year of publication placed to parentheses, after a point, you need to state type of publication.

Final Words

You have many requirements to remember. No wonder why many students of different ages find it complicated to write such serious projects, when their sources have to be cited in a specific way, which is confusing. Hopefully, this article will help you overcome this challenge and do everything right! Even if after reading detailed guide to this format, you still feel overwhelmed and confused – do not worry because you can make it easier with assistance of a modern citation machine! What is it? Such machines are available to every student online and they help to keep books, journals, or other materials you used cited, generating a correct citation for every source within a few seconds. It can be handy for many of you!


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