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MLA Format: Effective Toolbox

MLA Format

The Modern Language Association (MLA) is an organization that developed one of the most popular referencing styles, MLA. The Modern Language Association is one of the reputed academic organizations in the US that promotes the scholarship of literature and languages.

Initially, MLA format was designed for scholars, researchers, and students pursuing a degree in literature and related fields, as a unique template for organizing their papers. Nowadays, MLA format is widely used not only in the literature field but in many other disciplines as well. The Association released the latest edition of their Handbook in April 2016, and this edition contains the most relevant MLA rules and regulations. Most probably, you have already seen this handbook in your high school or college. This guide provides the researchers with the detailed guidelines about citing the references used for writing the paper, as well as common format standards. There are many sections in the guide and each one is dedicated to the deep overview of every single aspect of MLA format. If you are not aware of the basic information about MLA format, our experienced specialists will provide you with the effective tips and secrets that will significantly facilitate your writing process. 

Who Uses MLA?

MLA format is widely used by various academic departments, schools, and instructors. Purdue University`s lab says that this format is widely used in humanities such as follows:

  • English literature and languages;
  • Foreign literature and languages;
  • Comparative literature;
  • Literary criticism;
  • Cultural studies.

MLA format provides the student with a whole system of referencing starting from the in-text citations and a Works Cited page. 

Heading Rules

If you want to write a title page, keep in mind that MLA format does not have an official MLA cover page guideline. When it comes to writing the MLA header, you should know that MLA heading is placed on your first page at the top. Your full name should be the first line of your first page in the left corner. Then, use a double space beneath your name and write down the full name of your professor. Below the professor`s name should be the name of your educational institution, the name of the course, and section number. Finally, the title should include the due date of the assignment. 

After a double space below the due date, make sure to write the title of your paper. It should be centered and written in standard lettering without bold font, underlines, and quotation marks. You may use italics if the title includes the name of another source. Most research papers require the title mentioned above. However, if your professor has specific instruction and asks to create a separate title page, feel free to ask him or her for clarifications. 

Page Numbers and Running Head

Creating a paper in MLA format, you should also take care of the running head. A running head in MLA is different from the one used in APA is put in the right top corner on every page of the paper. It includes the author`s second name and the page number divided by the space. You do not have to put the word “page” or “p.” as it is required in APA.

General tips that will facilitate the writing process:

  • Your running head should be present on every page. In order to economize your time, make your word settings in such a way to put the running head on every page automatically;
  • Although the common guidelines do not require any changes, your professor may have specific requirements. Thus, we highly recommend you to learn more about them.
  • Usually, running head and pages numbers start from the second page, unless your instructor asks you to put them on the first page.
  • Most probably, your word uses one-inch margins by default. However, if you doubt, it is better to check on this at the very beginning of the writing process. 

Paragraphs

Every paragraph should be indented one-half inch from the left margin. Good news is that you do not have to measure half an inch manually. For this purpose, use the “tab” button on your keyboard and it will help you follow this requirement easily. As well as any other sections of the MLA project, all your paragraphs should be double-spaced. 

How to Use Quotations?

When writing your paper in MLA format, most probably, you will use external sources that will help you prove or disapprove your arguments. As well as in any other format, each idea or thought that was taken from an external source should be properly cited with mentioning the authorship. Indeed, a quotation is a very important tool for setting an emphasis, proving a point, or defending the argument. However, you should keep in mind that citations should not take the majority of the paper. If you hesitate regarding the number of quotes that can be used in your paper, you should address your professor. Very often, the professors inform the students about the number of quotes allowed in writing the paper. 

There are three ways to add a quote into your text:

  1. With adding the author`s name in the sentence.

John Beamon shares a glimpse into this topic by claiming, “Human cloning is a very dangerous procedure from both the ethical and biological perspectives” (34).

In the example mentioned above, you can see that John Beamon is the author of the journal article this quote is taken from.

     2. Without the author`s name in the sentence. 

There are many reasons to abandon human cloning because “it is a very dangerous procedure from both the ethical and biological perspectives” (Beamon 5).

In the example mentioned above, the name of the author is not mentioned in the sentence but included in parentheses at the end of the sentence.

     3. Using a blockquote. A block quote is a comparatively long citation that requires more than four lines of the copy-pasted text. Most professors do not like block quotes because students use them just to meet the requirements in terms of word count. 

Paraphrasing

Instead of copy-pasting the ideas of other writers, many students prefer to summarize them. Even if you do not copy-paste the text directly, you need to mention the author`s name, as well as bibliographical information about the book in the Works Cited page. 

Find out the example of a well-done paraphrase.

“I am just passionately curious. I don`t have a special talent.” Albert Einstein.

Paraphrase: Speaking about his scientific work, Albert Einstein emphasized that it is not the special talent, but enormous curiosity helped him make new discoveries. 

In order to create a well-written paraphrase, you need to follow these instructions step-by-step:

  1. Find a phrase or sentence you want to paraphrase in your source. 
  2. Read the text thoroughly and make sure you understand its meaning. You can write a good paraphrase only if you fully realize the meaning of the quote, as well as its relevance to your text. If you find it difficult to understand the meaning of the quote, ask someone to explain it to you or simply refuse from the idea to paraphrase it.
  3. After the careful reading of the sentence, put the text away and think about it.
  4. Then, try to reproduce the quote in your own words. However, you should not just substitute the words with the synonyms. If you do not want to be accused of plagiarism, you need to change the sentence`s shape without changing its meaning.

Indeed, there is no clear answer to what is better – a direct quote or paraphrase. Whereas a direct quote can prove your argument easily, the paraphrase shows your ability to process the information used. 

Works Cited

There are a few specific requirements for creating a Works Cited page:

  • All information about the source should be credible;
  • The list of sources used should appear on the last page of your project and should include all information about the sources used;
  • A running head, as well as the number of a page, should be put at the top of the page;
  • All sources should be put in the alphabetical order;
  • The Works Cited page should be also double-spaced.

General Guidelines

  • In MLA project, you can use any type that is easy to read. In most cases, the students prefer Time New Roman.
  • Use 12-point size.
  • Indent the first word of every paragraph by one-half inch.
  • All parts of your MLA project should be double-spaced.

Nowadays, the works are published in multiple formats. MLA format was updated in 2016 in order to face the challenges met by the researchers. As you can see, this format is pretty different from APA, Chicago, or Harvard. For instance, it does not require the title page and its references list is called Works Cited. 

We do hope that the tips gathered by our team will help you create a great MLA paper. However, if you still experience some troubles with this format, we highly recommend you to find the successful examples of papers written in MLA format on BESTWritingHELP.org essays section and find out what peculiarities are inherent to this style. Just don`t give up and remember that practice makes perfect!

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