MLA Format Paper: The Citation Guide
Even if you’ve never cited works in MLA style, in your life you’ve likely come across this citation style more than once – for example, when reading the works of other authors. Here is what you need to know about MLA citation:
- Every source mentioned or cited in your work should be referenced on the list of citations. The easiest way to do it is to make a note after each reference you put in your text and then copying the information to the bibliography page.
- Parenthetical citation style is most commonly used for cite sources in MLA format. It means that information about the source should be provided directly after the citation itself inside parentheses – this citation style has proven to be so effective that it’s often used in scientific journals.
- The format of the citation can differ according to the type of source – it can depend on whether you’re using a book, an internet page, or a CD as your reference.
MLA Format Paper: Author-Page Citation Style
As the in-text citation is the most popular citation style in MLA formatting guides, let’s take a closer look at it in action. The key to understanding this style lies in the name itself: to be correct, your in-text citation needs to include the author’s last name and the number of the page you’ve taken the information from. The complete information about the source should then be included on the Cited Works page at the end of your paper.
This citation style is the most effective way to refer your reader to the source of your information and pointing them directly to the page where that information can be found. That is why so much attention is paid to the correct citations in students’ works.
There is also a way to reference the entire source without specifying the pages – it is commonly used when the subject of the citation is more general and refers to a large part of the source. In this case you can include the name of the author or the name of the book directly into the text. However, when mentioning a specific episode from the author’s text, a page citation is needed.
MLA Format Paper: Essay Formatting
Essay is the most common type of work where MLA formatting is used, and here is what you need to remember when working on your essay in MLA style:
- A thesis statement is a mandatory part of an MLA-formatted essay. It needs to be the opening part of your work and it should be included in the essay outline – most commonly, all capital letters are used for the thesis statement in the outline.
- The thesis statement and the outline of the essay formatted in MLA style need to be closely connected: the outline needs to include points mentioned in the statement, but don’t go overboard on the details and other information, as it’ll be later explored in the text.
- There are no strict requirements for the titles of the parts in the outline. However, two most common titling styles are using full phrases or even sentences and using just short phrases or even words to title the parts of your essay.
- While you can create a pretty straightforward outline and still get a good grade, you have a much better chance of succeeding with your essay if you make the structure of the outline as complex as possible without compromising the integrity of the work.
MLA Format Paper: More Tips
We’ve covered the basic principles of writing an MLA-style essay, but there are also specific guidelines for formatting the text and the pages, and here they are:
- There should be 1-inch margins on every side of the page: left, right, top, and bottom. Each paragraph should start half an inch further from the left edge of the text.
- Most commonly, MLA papers are double-spaced – that includes every part of your work, from the outline to the list of references. However, your instructor may require you to single-space your paper.
- As for the title and heading, MLA style doesn’t require you to dedicate a separate page for the title of your page. Use the top right corner to list your name, the professor’s name, and the course name complete with a number. Double-space these lines. Then write the title of your work in the centre of the page – in case it takes more than one line, double space it as well.
- Underlining or using a bold font in the title of your work. Capitalizing every word in the title is not a good idea either – capitalize only the first and principal words of the phrase.
- Every page needs to be numbered in the top right corner of the page. Include your name on every page before the page number. You can use the running head feature in Microsoft Word for automatic numbering of the pages.
- The page number needs to be located one inch from the right edge of the page. There is no need to put the word “page” or the “p.” abbreviation before the number.
- Each image, drawing, chart, or table used in your essay should be appropriately named. Write “figure” and Arabic number after every image or drawing and “table” after each table.
This is how to format your essay or other paper in MLA style. As you can see, it’s not as difficult as some would imagine, but it makes your paper look much more professional and coherent.