Home Blog Citation Styles MLA Format and Citation - Step by Step Guide


MLA Format and Citation - Step by Step Guide

By Caleb S.

11 mins read

Reviewed By Rylee W.

Mla Format Guide

MLA format is one of the main citation formats, other than APA. The format is commonly used in humanities and social sciences studies. Other than MLA, there are other citation styles that also guide and help students in formatting their papers in different formats.

The Modern Language Association released the 8th and the most recent edition of their Handbook in April 2016. The said Handbook provides detailed instructions on how to cite and structure your work according to the MLA guidelines. It has different style dynamics than the APA format.

This blog discusses detailed instructions and structure of MLA format. Read on and learn the basics of MLA formatting and citation style.

Unlike the APA citation style, which is more widely used by engineering and other technical kinds of subjects, MLA allows the students to add references with the source details.

Whether it’s a research paper or an essay, formatting impacts your overall score. Professors often instruct humanities students to follow MLA format. However, sticking to this, or any other, formating could be difficult for many students. These different citation styles are used for different papers essays and learning about them is helpful.

By following a pattern and a referencing style like MLA format, you are making sure that everything is in a sequence. When a person works in a sequential manner it is not just easy for the reader but also makes things more convenient, organized, and manageable for the writer.

There are various format styles but MLA and APA are the most popular ones.

What Is an MLA Format?

An MLA format is defined and given by the Modern Language. It is especially used by the teachers, students, and researchers of humanities study areas like literature. It is a structured way of formatting and structuring papers and assignments. It is designed to allow for the easy and smooth reading of the assignment.

It is entirely different from other formats as it is more focused on providing detailed references of the sources as additional information for the readers. It includes everything including in-text citations, endnotes, footnotes, and a bibliography.

An MLA format essay is written using this citation style. This kind of paper does not have a title page but some students like to add it. What makes it different from the APA style? MLA citation and references include the author’s last name and page number while the APA style includes the last name and date of publication in the parenthesis.

MLA style provides writers with a system for referencing their sources through parenthetical citations in their essays and Works Cited pages.

In the following sections, you will find complete and updated information about MLA style formatting. We have used credible sources like Purdue Owl MLA to gather the presented information.


How to Do MLA Format?

An MLA format is different from other citation and reference styles. Predominantly, it includes the author’s name and the page number of the citation source, the book, or edition.

MLA Cover Page

Unlike other referencing style papers and essays, an MLA style paper does not have any separate title or cover page. The student writes his full name, his teacher’s name, the course title, the course number, and the paper’s due date on the first page as the header of the page. In case your professor asks you to make the title page separately, follow the below example.

MLA Format Title Page

MLA Format Heading

Since an MLA format paper does not include a separate title page, it has a header or top heading on the first page. The heading, or the header, contains:

  • The student’s full name
  • The teacher’s full name
  • The name and number of the course
  • The assignment deadline

To make the right MLA header, follow the below instructions:

  • Type your full name and position it 1 inch from the left margin and at the top of the page
  • Beneath your name, add a double space
  • Add the name of your teacher
  • Add your course name
  • Add the deadline of your assignment
  • Follow double space throughout the heading

Follow the instructions closely and make sure that you add the correct details.


MLA Works Cited

MLA’s page of references is regarded as Works Cited instead of references. As of its latest 8th edition, you will format your MLA style paper references in the following way:

  • Author’s name
  • Website’s title
  • Article’s title
  • Publishing date (if available)
  • The URL
  • Place the name of the author in the reverse order
  • The last name first
  • Follow it with a comma
  • Then the 1st name followed by a period
  • Use italics font for writing the title of the website
  • All entries in alphabetical order

These are the latest changes in the said format. Here is an MLA Works Cited page example;


Credit: Purdue.edu


MLA Format In-Text Citation

The in-text citation is added whenever you add a quote or paraphrased content in your paper. How to do it correctly? In the case of one writer, add the last name of the writer in the parenthesis, like:


What to do if a website has more than one author? For two authors, take a look at the following example written in MLA format:

“Wadhwa, Vivek, and Alex Salkever. “How Can We Make Technology Healthier for Humans?”

Wired, Condé Nast, 26 June 2018, www.wired.com/story/healther-technology-for-humans/.”

Put the name of both authors in the parenthesis.

(Wadhwa and Salkever).

How to write MLA format in-text citations for more than 2 authors? Only include the 1st author’s last name. For rest, et al. will serve the purpose.

(Wadhwa, et al.)

How to Cite Quotes in MLA Format?

Do you use quotes in research papers? You can directly quote or paraphrase them. However, learning the technique to use these quotes is important. The right way of doing it is to use them to support your claims and arguments.

Many students make the mistake of adding the quotes first and adding the arguments later. Your essay is your work and quotes should only be used to support and prove your claims, not the other way around.

Do not let them eat up the majority and the main part of your paper. And to avoid plagiarism and content theft, always cite the quotes whether you are adding them as it is or paraphrasing them, always cite the source. It is similar to taking something from someone and not telling him about it, it's stealing.

You can cite the MLA format quotes in either of the following ways:

  1. Use the name of the person in the sentence.
  2. Add the whole quote and add the name of the person at the end, in the parenthesis.
  3. For larger quotes, use block quotes. For short quotes, you can add them with quotation marks.

MLA Format Book

Looking to cite a book in your paper? Citing a book is different from citing a website. For the citation, you will need the following information:

  1. Author(s)
  2. Publication information
  3. The book’s title

James, Henry. The Ambassadors. Rockville: Serenity, 2009. Google books. Web.

16 Mar. 2010. http://books.google.com

The same MLA format is followed for each book.

While writing in-text citations, add the page number of the book with the name of the author:

(Jones 134)

MLA Format Date

The date and year of the publication are added in an MLA format style. Besides, year and month, it may also include season.

For example:

(27 Jan. 2018)

(Spring 2018)

If the month, year, and day are there, cite them all.

MLA Format Annotated Bibliography

Works Cited and MLA bibliography format are not the same. A bibliography is a list of sources recommended by the writer for reading. However, the bibliography does not have a different referencing style or structure.

The only difference is that where the References or Works Cited only includes the works that are used in the works. The bibliography includes all the works that the writer has consulted or read when writing the essay or the paper.

An annotated bibliography is different from a simple list of References or Works Cited. Along with the references, the annotated bibliography also includes a critique of the reference. When making the said bibliography, you add the reference followed by a critique of the reference.

Often, an annotated bibliography is required before starting with the research paper. Professors want to see the sources that you are planning to use in your paper. To help you understand and write a correct and proper annotated bibliography, follow the below tips:

  1. Every annotation should comprise 6-7 sentences.
  2. Each line must be double spaced.
  3. When the list of citations is long, organize it by topic.
  4. Always use the third person voice.

Annotated bibliographies demand critical analysis. To write a good and helpful annotated bibliography, investigate the author’s point of view, search for flaws, strengths, negatives, and positives, and explain how the original source is helpful for the research.

MLA Format Margins

What makes the paper look sleek and elegant? Margins! In MLA papers, 1-inch margins are used around the page. Word processing programs set the default to the 1-inch margins.

If not, check the settings and locate the margin size.

Margins, headers, font, and spacing are the building blocks of a perfectly crafted paper in any format, including the MLA style.

MLA Format Website

To know how to cite a website in MLA format, learn from the below example:

“McNary, Dave. “Keanu Reeves, Alex Winter Returning for ‘Bill and Ted Face the Music.’” Variety, Penske Media Corporation, 8 May 2018, variety.com/2018/film/news/bill-and-ted-3-keanu-reeves-alex-winter-1202802946/.”

MLA Footnote Format

MLA style allows the users to showcase the footnotes. Extensive notes are strictly discouraged in MLA format. Indicate footnotes in-text by Arabic number:

“They argued politics is discriminatory.6”

Both footnotes and the Works Cited are added at the end of the page and paper.

MLA Research Paper Format

Literature, history, and other humanities subjects research papers are mostly written in MLA format. Since these subjects are more detail-oriented and MLA allows the students and researchers to present their cited works in detail, they prefer this format.

Correct formatting will definitely affect your grades and help you earn your teacher’s appreciation. However, before you start, we have added some helpful MLA research paper formatting tips below:

  1. Use 8½ x 11” paper, white in color
  2. Keep 1-inch margins on all four sides of the paper
  3. Each paragraph should be indented. This means that the first word of each paragraph should be one-half inch indented
  4. Indent the quotations one inch from the left side of the paper
  5. You can use any font that is easy to use but the most commonly used MLA format font is Times New Roman. To differentiate any text, use italics.
  6. Use a 12-point font size for your paper’s font
  7. Use double spacing throughout the paper including your Works Cited page
  8. Leave one space after periods and other punctuation marks

Correct formatting is necessary for a perfect and A-grade-worthy paper.

MLA Format Outline

MLA 8th edition does not have definite guidelines for the MLA format outline.

If the teacher asks for one, use:

  • Roman numerals
  • Lowercase and capital letters
  • Numbers
  • For suffixes, also use Roman numerals
  • Ramses III
  • King George IV

MLA Format Essay

Once you learn the basics, you are ready to write your MLA format essay or paper. Below are some helpful tips that will keep you on track:

  • The text must be double-spaced.
  • The font size for the MLA format should be 12.
  • Leave one space after punctuation marks or periods.
  • Set 1-inch margins on all sides of the document.
  • The 1st line indent of the paragraphs should be a half-inch from the left margin. Do the same for the subsequent line. (Push the TAB key for a hanging indent)
  • For titles, use italics throughout the MLA format for your paper.
  • In the case of endnotes, mention them on another page than the Works Cited page.

MLA Format Example

MLA style can be tricky to handle. The best technique is to follow the instructions of the professor. At times, he may give you some guidelines for proper formatting.

Have a look at the example below to get a better understanding.


Can You Use Abbreviations in your MLA Format Paper?

Abbreviations are mainly put to use in many source types inclusive of books, websites, posts, blogs, and journal articles. It is alright to use abbreviations in all of these sources. However, when it comes to school and research assignments the Modern Language Association suggests against using them.

Spelling out abbreviations into their full words and meaning is recommended. This ensures understanding and avoids any confusion. Instead of coming across choppy abbreviations, readers can follow the natural flow of the language in the paper. Many students also use an MLA citation generator to generate their citations but, instead, getting help from an expert is a better option.

In the end, keep working on your mistakes. Refer to this guide while writing MLA format research papers. We are aware of the fact that you can still need guidance even after reading this article, which is understandable.

For further assistance and help, contact MyPerfectWords.com to get a well-written custom paper according to your specified format.

Place your order now to get your paper.

Caleb S.

Caleb S.

Literature, Marketing

Caleb S. has been providing writing services for over five years and has a Masters degree from Oxford University. He is an expert in his craft and takes great pride in helping students achieve their academic goals. Caleb is a dedicated professional who always puts his clients first.

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