If your teacher has asked you to write an MLA essay and you don’tknow where to begin, do not panic, use these tips on ModernLanguage Association style to professionally format your paper.
MLA style is a proven way to list a source material for manykinds of humanities documents. It is the simplest style guideamong other styles such as Chicago manual of style and APA style.It has only two requirements. They include:
- The list of works cited should be presented in analphabetical order that corresponds to the citations in text andis placed at the end of the paper.
- Short parenthetical citations in the text
Simply put, you include a reference to your source material inparenthesis in the text and then you least all the sources youhave referred to in alphabetical order at the end of your paper.
How to format a paper
If you’re thinking about how to deliver a research paper that isstrong both in writing and formatting, you will find usefulrecommendations below. Writing an MLA essay means following thestyle manual of the Modern Language Association that tells youhow to format your paper and every cite you use. It also givesyou instructions on how long a paragraph should be, how tocorrectly punctuate a title, and how to properly use commas.
Here are the general provisions of the MLA style:
- The papers must be typed on a computer regular paper orhandwritten.
- You must use a double interval and a readable font. It isrecommended to use a common font and italics, and the differencebetween them should be easily perceived.
- After the full stops and other punctuation there should beonly a single space, unless otherwise agreed by the editor orsupervisor.
- The top and bottom margins should be 1 inch.
- The red line should be half an inch from the left edge. It isrecommended to use the Tab button rather than clicking the Spacebutton five times.
- Number the pages in the right corner at the top.
- Use italics to highlight long work titles or only if, indeed,you need to highlight one or another piece of text.
- If in your work has notes and explanations, print them on aseparate page before specifying the list of quoted works. Thepage should be called Notes. The title should be centered.
Formatting the first page
These are the instructions you need to follow when formatting thefirst page of your MLA essay:
- Do not create a cover page, unless it is included in the listof requirements for the publication of the research paper.
- In the upper left, indicate your name and surname, the nameof your supervisor, the name of the course, and the date. Makesure you use a double interval.
- Make another double indentation and place the name of yourscientific work in the center. Do not separate the title initalics, do not underline or enclose the name in quotation marks.Follow the standard rules for the use of capital letters in thename of scientific works (standard capitalization).
- Use quotation marks and/or italics for when mentioning otherworks in the title of your article.
- Make a double indent between the title of the article and thefirst line.
- In the upper right corner, create a title with your name andpage number. Sequentially, number the pages in Arabic numerals(1, 2, 3, 4, etc.). Perhaps your editor or supervisor will askyou not to use this header on the first page (in this case,always follow the requirements for each particular publication).
Formatting the list of sources used
When the reference is made to materials in a paper document, theauthor-page reference style is used, where the text link inparentheses is indicated by the author of the publication/articleand the number of the page used without a comma:
- Poetry of the romantic age can be characterized as aspontaneous outburst of powerful feelings (Wordsworth 263).
If the author has already been specified in the text, only thepage number will remain in parentheses:
- According to Wordsworth, romantic age poetry can be describedas a spontaneous outburst of powerful feelings (263).
If the author is an organization, then the name of theorganization (or abbreviation) and page number in parentheses areused (TLÜ 24).
If there is no author in this work, then you should use the firstwords of the title in quotation marks, then add the page number:
- In North America, there are more places affected by climatechange because there you can get more information on climatechange, and a lot of research has been done on this issue.(Impact of Global Warming).
If there are several authors with the same surname, the initialsof the name are added: (R. Miller 12).
In the presence of several authors, there are two options forboth authors, indicate the names of both authors and page number:
- The authors claim that a superficial reading... (Best jaMarkus 9)
- Best and Marcus argue that the text should be read... (9)
If there are more than two authors, then indicate the name of thefirst author and for others add the Latin abbreviation et al:
- (Franck et al 327)
- According to Franck et al... (327).
When using several works of one author, indicate the title of thework or article and the page number. The title of the book iswritten in italics, and the title of the article in quotes:
- The rooms were filled with birch branches to sleep better andthe food was more pleasant (Tõde ja õigus 246).
- The agency proceeds from a study according to which, manyEuropean citizens believe that the economic crisis can have anegative impact on safety and health of work “Mida arvavadtöötajad...” 28).
You can also add the author’s name, if it is not mentioned in thetext (Johanson, “Mida arvavad töötajad...” 28)
If different numbers of the same periodical edition are used inthe work, the number of the cited publication should be includedin the brackets, then the colon, and then the page number orrange of numbers:
- As mentioned in the magazine «Good Child» the most dangerousfungus is the white toadstool (11: 14-15)
References to electronic sources
In the case of the MLA style, the electronic sources used are notusually indicated separately in parentheses. Rather, it isrecommended that you specify the author’s name or source namedirectly in the text of your material. However, it is veryimportant to indicate all the sources used, at the end of thematerial in the source list.
In the case of video/animation and audio recordings, indicate theexact temporal location of the material in parentheses (00:02:15- 00:02:35).
Keep in mind that the references to electronic periodicals andbooks, however, are analogous to paper documents, i.e. indicatethe author and the page number or the title and page number inparentheses.
In summary, a text link in the MLA essay style is more flexibleand not as rigorous as in the APA, giving the author severaloptions for linking to the source. The author can decide forhimself what is important to indicate in parentheses and whatshould be mentioned in the text.
However, the list of sources used should be designed inaccordance with a very strict system.
Some additional rules
When formatting your document in the MLA style, you need tofollow a series of rules that define all aspects of creating apaper. Most students think of the MLA style when trying to decidewhat style to use to cite the sources applied as references in adocument. But, MLA style sets the rules for various things ofdocument formatting referring to sources.
- Align the text to the left. If you use a word processor, forexample MS-Word, you can easily align the text both to the leftand the right side.
- Footnotes and notes. You can use footnotes or endnotes withMLA style, but they should only be used to further explain theterm or complex ideas, which you can’t include in the main text.
- In the style of MLA, headings and sub-headings that split thetext are optional. Check with your instructor, before using them.
- You need to set the indent in the first line of any paragraphby half an inch from the left margin. If you do not use wordprocessing software, indent five spaces.
- For the title of large work, italics should be used. MLAstyle also allows you to use italics in the text body tohighlight a particular word or phrase, but use the italics whenit is necessary.
- All four sides of the MLA paper top, bottom, right, and leftrequire a 1-inch field. The only elements that should bedisplayed outside the field are the page numbers.
- Follow all standard punctuation marks with only one space,including a colon, commas, periods, and a semicolon. Someinstructors still prefer the old rules of using two spaces afterperiods that end with full stops. MLA style allows someflexibility in punctuation when the instructor requests a changefrom the MLA style standard.
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