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

MLA Format and MLA Citation - Step by Step Guide

MLA Format and MLA Citation - Step by Step Guide

Are you familiar with the proper formatting techniques?

Whether it’s a research paper or an essay, formatting impacts your overall score.

Professors often instruct students to follow MLA format.

Most of the students are careless to stick to the formatting techniques thoroughly.

Are you one of them?

Read on and meet the Modern Language Association (MLA) style for formatting and research papers.

1. MLA Format Citation

What is the purpose of MLA format citation?

MLA style makes it very easy for the user to understand the text.

Cues and references offer a smooth way to read and sail through the paper.

By following a pattern and a referencing style 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 it also makes things more convenient, organized and manageable for the writer.

So, make sure that you are following a format to keep things in sync and in a pattern.

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

Professors always encourage students to use MLA and APA format for a consistent writing style.

This blog discusses a detailed guide on MLA format. If you want insight on the APA format, check out our blog that gives complete guidance on APA formatting style.

The Modern Language Association released the 8th and the most recent edition of their Handbook in April 2016. The MLA Handbook provides thorough instructions on MLA format citing, as well as guidelines for submitting work that adheres to the Modern Language Association's rules and standards. Although we're not affiliated with the MLA, our citation specialists bring you this thoughtful and informative guide on the format.

1.1 MLA Format Essay

How many essays have you written?

Plenty, I guess!

If those essays follow a certain format, you should be aware of what the format requires.

We've got you covered in case this is your first encounter with formatting styles.

2. What is MLA format?

Why can't you use other styles instead of MLA citation format?

To get an answer, you must know what is MLA format and elements that distinguish it from other referencing styles.


It is entirely different from other formats.

From general page layout to abbreviations, pay attention to each ingredient.

Since you've become familiar with the topic, begin with the formatting techniques.

2.1 MLA Format Heading

Headings are vital in MLA formatting.

Generally, 2 options are used to construct headings:

A: Heading at the top of the first page.

Grace the front of the assignment with a title page.

B: When a title page is created, beware of MLA cover page instructions.

2.2 MLA Heading Format

Type your full name when creating heading through A.

Position the name 1 inch from the left margin and the top of the page.

Beneath your name, add a double space.

Follow the double space with class, name of the course or section number.

Below, tap double space and add the deadline of the assignment.

2.3 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 instruct general guidelines for formatting.

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

Different techniques are used while citing a website and a book.

3. MLA Format Paper

This section will focus on the mechanics of fonts and size used in the MLA format paper.

  • The text must be double spaced.
  • Font size 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 case of endnotes, mention them on another page than the Works Cited page.

4. MLA Format Header

What is the most common blunder made by students?

Writing poor MLA format headers!

Carelessness takes better of them while dealing with simple headers.

Read out loud the instructions below twice:

  1. In the upper right-hand corner, create a header, which numbers pages consecutively.
  2. The professor can instruct to omit the number on the 1st page. Keep a close eye on

such specific instructions to avoid blunders.

4.1 How to Cite MLA Format?

Now that you're familiar with key guidelines, let's move on to the main task.

How to cite your source in MLA format?

Do you know?

Never ever rely on citation software.

They cannot be trusted and often generate a flawed parenthetical citation.

4.2 MLA Format Work Cited

Include the following ingredients in the Works Cited list:

  • Title of Source
  • Author
  • Title of the container
  • Version
  • Other contributors (roles and names)
  • Publisher
  • Name
  • Publication Date
  • Location of the Medium (page range or URL)

If any one of these elements is missing, don't waste time seeking it.

Omit it!

There are several other optional elements.

Stick to the core elements and they'll do the trick for you.

5. Work Cited MLA Format

In the 8th ed of work cited MLA format, some changes have been made.

  • Author's name
  • Web site's title
  • Article's title
  • Publishing date(if available)
  • The URL
  • Place the name of the author in the reverse order.
  • First, the last name!
  • Follow it with a comma.
  • Then the 1st name followed by a period.
  • Use italics font for writing the title of the website.

5.1 MLA Format Website

Take a look at the following example to better comprehend the MLA format Works Cited list style.

5.2 MLA 8 Format

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/.

Compare the elements listed in the example with the elements discussed in the bullets above.

It will offer you a perfect understanding of the Works Cited list in MLA style.

5.3 MLA Format In-Text Citation

The in-text citation is interesting and easy to write.

Yes, just pin the last name of the author in parenthesis.

For the example listed above, the following in-text citation is made:


What to do if a website has more than one author?

It's almost the same.

5.4 MLA Format Works Cited Page

For more than 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/.

Confused about an in-text citation?

Put the name of both authors in the parenthesis, simple!

(Wadhwa and Salkever).

How to write MLA format Works Cited list and in-text citations for more than 2 authors?

Only include the 1st author's last name.

For rest, et al. will serve the purpose.

(Last Name 1 et al.).

6. How to Cite in MLA Format

Do you use quotes in research papers?

You can directly quote or paraphrase them.

They have the potential to lift the paper!

Make it vibrant!

Strike the reader!

First learn the technique to use these quotes but never let them eat up the majority and the main part of your paper.

Just use them to support your claim, not the other way around.

You cannot steal quotes of others in MLA or any other format.

It is similar to taking something from someone and not telling him about it, its stealing.

You'll be caught by the professor.

So, credit the work you have quoted.

Choose the technique that suits you the best:

  1. Name of the person in the sentence.
  2. Omit the name of the person in the sentence.
  3. For larger quotes, use block quotes.

I shall happily go with the 1st technique for quoting others work.

7. MLA Bibliography Format

Don't be misunderstood!

Works Cited and MLA bibliography format are not the same.

Not every essay writing service shares such exceptional tips.

A bibliography is a list of sources recommended by the writer for reading.

Have a look at the following sample.

In-Depth analysis with a perfect example is at your disposal:

7.1 MLA Format Book

You may have come across several online sources containing books.

For research papers, cite those books.


Primarily, the basic information includes the following:

  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

See the example above.

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)

8. MLA Format Date

The core element of the MLA style is the MLA format date.

The year or month!

The date relies on the kind of source.

For full dates, use the following format:

27 Jan. 2018

For seasons, see:

Spring 2018

A good rule of thumb is to give the date most relevant to the source. If the month, year and day are there, cite them all.

8.1 Annotated Bibliography MLA Format

What is one of the most challenging tasks in MLA format?

Annotated bibliography!

The critical style and alignment take a toll on students.

Though similar to the Works Cited pages, it is entirely the opposite.

8.2 Bibliography MLA Format

Learn tips to make annotated bibliographies and practice:

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

Annotated bibliographies demand critical analysis.

The professor will grade you for that.

Investigate the author's point of view.

Search for flaws, strengths, negatives and positives.

In the end, conclude with a blaster.


Evaluate the source's limitations and implications for the future.

Here you'll give a futuristic look to your MLA format annotated bibliography.

9. MLA Research Paper Format

Research papers are mostly written in MLA formats.

When correct MLA research paper format is used, the professor is urged to grade you better.

Clarity, smoothness and organization!

These elements will become the core of your paper in proper MLA styling and formatting.

9.1 MLA Header Format

First, let's learn the techniques for MLA header format used in research papers.

Flush with the left margin after beginning 1 inch from the top.

Type name, instructor's name, course number and date with double spaces on new lines.

Once more, tap double space to type the title.

Never bold, underline or type the title in capital letters.

Don't place a period next to the title.

10. MLA Format Outline

MLA 8th edition does not have definite guidelines for 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

10.1 MLA Format Margins

What makes the paper look sleek and elegant?


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 MLA style.

10.2 MLA Footnote Format

What distracts the reader?

Unnecessarily long notes!

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

Have you understood the fundamental MLA formatting techniques?

A few of MLA format tips are worth sharing here.

Abbreviations are used as per trends in MLA style.

Abbreviations are mainly put to use in many source types inclusive of books, websites, posts, blog, 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 prefers abbreviations to rarely be put to use. 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.

Use uppercase letters!

Though there always are exceptions to some rules.

Just go through the dos and don'ts:

  1. Omit spaces and periods in capital letters.
  2. When abbreviation ends in a lowercase letter, use a period.
  3. Condense citation as much as possible through abbreviations.
  4. Write geographic names by abbreviating country, state and province names.

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.

There is no doubt in the fact that formatting your paper can be tricky at times and one can struggle.

Don't worry about that at all, we have got a way out for you in such a situation as well.

For further need of assistance, contact MyPerfectWordsto get a well-written custom paper according to your specified format.

So, you can trust us with a blindfold as we will make sure that you get a paper with accurate and correct formatting and citation. We are also aware of the fact that citation like MLA can get upgrades now and then, so, we make sure that our experts stay updated at all times.

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