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MLA Formatting Writing and Citation Guide

23 Aug 2017Citation Guide

The best way to learn new formats and styles of writing is by using various guides, which practically show you what you should do. Our website is a place, where you can find everything you need for composing your academic papers fast and easily. Our instructions will teach you how to deal with such a serious issue in an academic world as MLA citation style.

Essay formatting is not the easiest thing, especially if you are a newbie and know nothing about it. Although, main rules for different papers might be common, there can also be some peculiarities that you should keep in mind. Let’s speak of composing MLA format outline. If writing an essay in MLA formatting style, outline is usually optional part of a paper. However, some professors may require it too.

Thus, what is MLA style and how can you use it in your college or university academic papers? And, what is more, how to do MLA citation properly? Here you will find the answers.

What is MLA format?

Many people still do not know what does MLA stand for. It is Modern Language Association. You can meet such style type dealing with humanities, language, and literature. Being quite simple, it still has some tricky issues for newbies. Yes, it is simpler than APA, Chicago, and Oxford, but not simple enough to deal with without any preparation and proper research. Thus, you should follow definite MLA format rules to get a perfectly made paper.

MLA style influences formatting of such things as:

  • Manuscript elements;
  • Table presentation;
  • Referencing;
  • Punctuation;
  • Statistics;
  • Headings;
  • Abbreviations;
  • And others.

Using MLA format, your paper will always be protected from plagiarism. For that purpose, you should have clear citations in your own paper. MLA format is very helpful when you want to include other people’s thoughts in your academic writing.

MLA Citation Guide

If you decide to cite a movie or book in MLA, you need to learn few critical points about  it. This style is very frequently used, thus you probably have already met it before. Here you can find several tips on how to write in MLA format correctly:

  • All the sources in your paper must be placed on the list of citations. Just note every single citation after placing it into your text and then duplicate it on your annotated bibliography list.
  • In MLA format, cite sources are presented using parenthetical citation style. It is about placing info about the source inside parentheses just after the citation. It is not difficult at all, and is very popular in scholarly journal articles.
  • The info required for citation source depends on the format of this very source (print, Internet, CD) and the works cited list known as a bibliography.

In-text citations: Author-page style

Let’s look at those in-text citations a bit closer. MLA style uses author-page method for all in-text citations. What does it mean? It is a piece of cake. You just need to indicate the author’s last name and page number where quotation was taken from. Then, you should do a complete info link in your Cited Works page. To include author’s name, you can use parentheses or just simply write it in your content. But, keep in mind that page number should always go within parentheses.

In this simple way, you are telling your reader that the quotation you did was taken from a certain page number and was written by a certain writer. That is the main purpose of citations, and MLA format is the simplest way of writing them into your text.

For example, if you are creating in-text citation about the entire work with no pages included, you may mention the name of cited work directly in text like this:

  • In his article “How to Become Crazy While Taking too Many Hard Drugs”, Syd Barrett talks about his early shows with Pink Floyd and secret of “Shine on You Crazy Diamond” album title.
  • The book demonstrates how the legendary founder of Pink Floyd became crazy after a few years of experiencing heavy drugs addiction. (Barrett)

If you have to disclose a specific episode of the book or article, you should include page number in brackets. Or in case the author’s name was mentioned in citation, just indicate page number.

  • He didn’t consider himself crazy and blamed Gilmour for his retiring from the band. (Barrett 70)
  • But David Gilmour was not too happy about losing a friend and taking his place in the legendary band. (70-75)

Essay Formatting in MLA Style

Thus, formatting an essay and outline for it is similar to creating a plan. You can check some important rules below:

  • The thesis statement is obligatory for MLA essay formatting. Not only this core statement serves as a starting cape for your essay, but it also has to be mentioned in the outline. Normally, it goes first in your plan and is written in all capital letters
  • Your outline must include only those ideas that relate to thesis statement directly. No details should be written there.
  • You can use two possible structure patterns: full sentences for every paragraph or short phrases or even words.
  • As a rule, cheap outlines do not have any clear structure. That is their main disadvantage. The structure of your outline and essay should be complicated and has a clear thought flow.

Independent Researchers MLA Style

Using our tips, you will get to know the best way of composing your papers and will never fail in doing it. These recommendations, we must say, can be a bit different from those your tutor has given you. Thus, be careful while working on your masterpiece.

  • Margins

Make 1-inch margins everywhere (right side, left the side, bottom, and top) on your page. Every paragraph should also have 0.5-inch margin from the left edge.

  • Spacing

Traditionally, every MLA paper is double-spaced. However, sometimes professors require students to make it single-spaced. The spacing must be throughout the whole text, including notes, quotes, and the list of references.

  • Title and heading

If you are formatting your research paper in MLA style, you don’t need to include a separate title page. Type your and professor’s names, course number and its name, and the date at the left top of the first page. All the information should be typed separately with double-spacing. Then move to the center and indicate the title of your work (if your title takes more than one line, use double-spacing as well).

Do not use underlining or bold letters for your title. Capitalize the first and principal words only. If your title sounds like a question, include a question mark in the end. If your title is in a foreign language or includes foreign words, it might be capitalized in accordance with definite rules. It is recommended for students to ask for professor’s recommendations in this case.

  • Page numbers

The numbering should be placed in the right upper corner of every page. Your last name should be typed on every page before the number. Microsoft Word has a function of a “running head,” which automatically includes formatting details like page numbering. You can use it for more convenience.

A page number should have one-inch margin from the right edge. You should also add double-spacing between the top of your text and page number. Besides, do not use a word “page” or abbreviation “p.” before the page number.

  • Figures and tables

Additional materials like images, photos, drawings, and charts should be marked as “Figures” and numbered properly. If you are going to include tables, label them as “Tables” and use Arabic numerals for the points.

Improve Your Writing Skills 

Students should realize that correct formatting together with a coherent content is very important for a well-structured research paper. Everyone has experienced once in their lives, an embarrassing situation when you have produced a top-notch paper, but you’ve failed to meet the formatting requirements. As a result, you’ve got a lower mark and feel frustrated. To avoid this problem, you can learn more from our MLA format guide or use our free MLA citation generator for all types of academic papers and creative writing essays.

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