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MLA Essay Format: Help with Writing Your Essay

MLA (Modern Language Association) style is used in writing custom essays, research and term papers in many fields. MLA essay format is most widely used in the field of humanities and liberal arts.

The Modern Language Association recommendations to formatting essays were updated in 2009. Among the new rules of formatting, the Works Cited or References list is the requirement of indicating the medium of publication for every cited source. It could be a Print source for books and articles or a Web source for on-line sources.

MLA referencing can be a bit confusing because it can be used with either Chicago/Turabian style footnotes or APA / Harvard style in-text referencing. Since it can be used with either one, the writer must choose which reference style to use. In MLA formats, using in-text referencing is the more popular choice. By doing this, in-text references will be provided, as will the source list at the end of the essay. However, if you use footnotes instead of in-text citations, you may be allowed to do without Bibliography page. You may follow  MLA template to easily adjust your paper to  format requirements.

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MLA Format Template (Download)

Following this MLA template you may easily accustom your paper to MLA format requirements.  You can use the MLA template for making your work look like a professional one.

  • The text in MLA style essay format is typed with a double space. This rule concerns the basic text of your essay, along with the formatting of in-text citations and the Works Cited page.
  • 12-font size is preferable. Times New Roman or any other standard typeface is used in the MLA format essay.
  • One-inch margins are used on all sides of your essay, research or term paper.
  • Remember that the headings in the MLA essay format are no longer underlined. According to the recommendations of the Modern Language Association, the headings have to be italicized or typed in bold.
  • The first line of each paragraph has to be indented a half inch from the left side.
  • You should put page numbers at the top, and justify it to the right.
  • It is not a mandatory requirement, but it is recommended that you type your last name before the page number, if the paper is several pages.Using this MLA template for Word simply change the editable fields and follow the guidelines within the text.

Download MLA Paper Example

Here you may find an example of proper MLA essay formatting.

MLA Essay Formatting

MLA In-Text Citations Format

MLA Essay Format

While citing a book, periodical, electronic source, etc. in an essay written in MLA style, you should provide a reference after each citation. Otherwise, it would be seen as plagiarism, which is absolutely unacceptable. The same concerns indirect in-text references. Be very attentive while formatting your essay. Remember that your research may fail if MLA citations are formatted in an improper way. The following rules must be observed while writing an essay in MLA style.

  • Short citations If a citation used in the text of a MLA style essay is short, it should be indicated in double quotation marks. At the end of the citation, you have to state the author’s name and the page number where the MLA citations are from in the text. This information should be enclosed in round brackets (parenthesis).

    Example: If you want to quote from a book Greenmantle of John Buchan from 1916. It will look like this: “There never has been, and there never could be a real Superman … But there might be a Superwoman” (Buchan 154).

    Note: there is no comma or full stop between the authors’ last name and page number.

  • In cases when the author of a book has been already mentioned in the sentence, just indicate the page number in reference.

Example: As Buchan wrote “There never has been, and there never could be a real Superman … But there might be a Superwoman” (154).

  • Long citations. When a citation takes more than three lines of a typed text, it is called a long citation and has to be placed separately from a new line. Quotation marks are not used in this case. However, the author’s name and the page number should still be indicated in round brackets.

Example: One of the characters in Kipling’s novel Kim describes the Mutiny in the following way:

A madness ate into all the Army, and they turned against their officers. That was the first evil, but not past remedy if they had then held their hands. But they chose to kill the Sahibs’ wives and children. Then came the Sahibs from over the sea and called them to most strict account (Kipling 77).

  • Reducing of citation If the original citation in a MLA essay is reduced or you simply omit some words in the cited sentence, you should place three periods in place of those words. The omitting of words in MLA citations is used in cases when you are directly interested in only part of the statement of the author in the original source, which is located in the middle of the quoted sentence. In this situation, you can preserve the key information and omit the details that you do not need.

    Example: Lawrence was compared to “a caliph . . . who had stepped out from the pages of ‘The Arabian nights’” (Thomas 16)

  • Adding information. In the MLA essay, it is allowable to add your own commentaries or notes within MLA citations, but they should be enclosed in square brackets.

    Example: When discussing civil rights, it is hard to not mention Martin Luther King Jr., who was a man who was passionate about the words of the Emancipation Proclamation: “…a great American, in whose symbolic shadow we stand today, signed the Emancipation Proclamation. This momentous decree came as a great beacon light of hope to millions of Negro slaves who had been seared in the flames of withering injustice” (King 813).

  • More than one source of reference If you cite more than one book in a sentence of a MLA essay, then at the end of the sentence indicate in brackets all references, dividing them with a semicolon.

    Example: David Lloyd George characterized Lord Kitchener as a a controversial figure who was admired as “a legend of the British empire, to whom the Orient added its greatness”, but at the same time as a man whose “brain has dried out under the hot sun of the desert” (15; 47).

  • Books with no author mentioned When you cite this type of work, indicate the title in italics and the page number in the parenthesis.

    Example: As stated by the presidential commission … (Report 4)

In-text citations in a MLA essay usually provide brief information about the reference and they have to correspond to the information indicated in the Works Cited list at the end of essay. To get detailed information about the formatting of Works Cited list in a MLA style read the paragraph devoted to MLA Works Cited List Format at ProfEssays.com

How Can We Help

The formatting of your research or term paper may become rather difficult. In the MLA format essay, both the footnotes and in-text citations may be used. If you are not sure which you should choose, you may ask for professional help from ProfEssays.com. Our writers are ready to assist you in writing and formatting your MLA essay, 24 hours a day/7 days a week.

Order Custom Essays

 

ProfEssays.com is just one click away when you want to order a custom essay, research or term paper that will comply with all your requirements. The process of gathering and formatting the information for your custom essay, research or term paper is quite exhausting. Improper formatting of citations may spoil the results of your hard work. Order you paper at ProfEssays.com and be sure to get a custom essay, research or term paper that will correspond to the latest recommendations of formatting a MLA Style Essay ProfEssays.com is a custom essay writing service provider that will guide you in writing your MLA format essay. Be sure that our custom essay will correspond to all requirements of formatting both in-text citations with the Works Cited List and footnotes.

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MLA Title Page Format

Essay Title

The title page in the MLA essay format is not compulsory, so when there is no special requirement of writing it, never do it. However, there are specific requirements to the first page in MLA essay. 

Learn how to format your MLA Title Page properly with us.

  • Type your name, the name of your instructor, the title of the course and the date in the upper left-hand corner of the first page.
  • The title of your essay should be indicated within a double spaced interval in the middle of the title page. Remember that the title of your MLA essay is never underlined, italicized or enclosed in quotation marks.
  • The text of your MLA essay comes next to the title with a double space.

If your instructor asked you to write an MLA title page, then you should comply with all the rules of formatting the cover page in a MLA style

MLA Format Outline (Click on Image to Enlarge)

There might be a working outline, that is usually done and even submitted before writing an essay and a final outline that is submitted together with the essay. Needless to say that both can be done in MLA format.

  • MLA outline should be done on a separate page.
  • The title of the essay should be typed at the top of the page and centered.

 

  • On the next line you should “Outline”.

 

  • Introduction and conclusion are numbered in the MLA format outline.

 

  • Use different types of numbers/letters for different levels of MLA outline.

 

  • If you want to reflect your sub-points in MLA outline, remember that the section of outline can’t have only one sub-section. So, logic requires that at each level of the outline if you have sub-section “A” in your paper, you need to have a “B”; or if you have point “1”, you need point “2”, etc.

 

MLA Works Cited List Format (Click on Image to Enlarge)

The detailed information about the author, the title, the year of publication, the publishing house and the overall number of pages in a book, periodical, etc. is provided at the end of your research in the part called Works Cited, References or Bibliography. The MLA format sets specific rules of formatting the Woks Cited list. Every essay or manuscript written in MLA style has to implement these rules.

Alphabetical order

All books, periodicals, electronic sources, etc. in cited within the MLA essay format must be arranged in alphabetical order by the last name of the author. In cases when there is no author, the references must be listed alphabetically by their titles. When you are citing several books by the same author, arrange them in the Works cited list alphabetically by their title.

Book reference

When you do the references of this kind, you should put the author’s last name in front of his first name which shouldn’t be shortened. The title of the book is listed after the author’s name, and then the place of publication, the publishing house and the year of publication. Do not forget to italicize the title of a book.

Example: Buchan, John. Greenmantle. London: Abacus, 1916. Print.


Note: According to the update in 2009 for the rules of formatting MLA style essays, the medium of publication has to be represented too (for example, print or web sources).

Referencing a publications of several authors

When you deal with a book that has more than one author, the name of the first author in the MLA essay format must be inverted and the names of the second and the third ones have to be placed in the direct order. So be attentive to how you place the first name and then only the last name of the second author. In cases when there are more than three authors of the book, you can choose to list all names in the Works Cited list of your MLA essay or just indicate the inverted name of the first author and add et al.

Example: Lowi, Theodore, Benjamin Ginsberg, and Steve Jackson. Analyzing American Government: American Government, Freedom and Power. 3rd ed. New York: Norton, 1994. Print.

Referencing corporate authors.

Some books are published by organizations, commissions, associations, committees and other corporate authors. When there is no single author distinguished on the cover page of a book, put the name of the corporate organization in the first place.
Example: Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art. A Guide to the Herbert F. Johnson Museum of Art, Cornell University. Ithaca, NY: Cornell U, 1973. Print.

Referencing newspaper/journal articles

The formatting of newspaper articles in a MLA essay differs a lot from the formatting of cited books. The general scheme of citing a newspaper article is the following: at first you should indicate the author’s inverted name, then the title of article enclosed in double quotation marks, then the title of newspaper, magazine, journal or any other periodical, then the day, month and year of publication, followed by the number of pages. Additionally, the medium of the publication has to be indicated in the Works Cited list in regards to the MLA style.

Example: Smith, Lewis. “Leading scientist urges teaching of creationism in schools”. The Times. London, 2008, Sept 12. 6. Print.

Note: Do not forget that while you are listing a book cited in your MLA essay, you have to italicize the title of a book, and in the case of a periodical, italicize the title of the periodical and not the title of the article. The month of publication has to be abbreviated (For example, Jan., Dec., etc.). Only May, June and July are never abbreviated. The qualified writers of  ProfEssays.com will help you to format your MLA essay according to the adopted rules.

Referencing on-line sources in MLA style

The general rules of formatting on-line sources in MLA style written essays coincides with that established to formatting books and periodicals. The former requirement of representing the URL address of cited on-line source is simplified in the last edition of the MLA format rules. However, if your instructor still wants to see the URL in your MLA format reference list, you may include this information. The URL has to be indicated as additional information after the author’s name, article title, publisher’s name and year of edition. Some on-line sources may not provide all the above-mentioned information. In such cases, list the available information. When indicating the medium of publishing, put Web for on-line sources.

Example: “MLA Format: Help with Writing Your Essay.” ProffEssays.com.. 2011, January. < http://www.professays.com/info/mla-essay-format/ >. Web.

Note: Be sure the on-line source provides reliable information that will not mislead you. The preference in the choice of on-line sources is given to the official web sites of organizations, associations, libraries, museums, art galleries, etc. URL is indicated in angle brackets.

ProfEssays.com can easily assist you in writing and formatting MLA essays. Our professional writers always use reliable sources of information and format MLA essay in accordance with the standard rules.

MLA Footnotes and Endnotes

Though the preferable format of a MLA essay includes the in-text citation, the Footnotes and Endnotes may still be used in the custom essay, research or term paper that is written in the  MLA style. Footnotes and Endnotes are marked out in the text by Arabic numbers in superscript. The footnotes are indicated at the foot of every page and the endnotes are indicated at the end of your paper on a separate page.

Example:

MLA Footnotes Format

Custom essay writing service providers, such as ProfEssays.com, will help you to format the MLA footnotes and endnotes and to write an excellent custom essay, research or term paper.

MLA Format Headings

Please do not confuse headings with a header! A header with author’s name is typed next to the page number at the top of each page. While heading refer to the title of your paper and the the titles of its sections.

MLA does not have strict regulations regarding the use of headings, just some general norms:

  • The headings of the MLA essay are usually typed in same font and size as the rest of the paper, however you are free to italicize them or type in bold.
  • The title of the MLA paper should be centered. Each word in the title should start with a capital letter.
  • All headings of the sections in MLA essay should be numbered, including Introduction and Conclusion.

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