MLA Format Guide for Beginners: How to Write an Essay in MLA Format

MLA writing format is one of the most widely spread standards of academic writing that are used in the United States, Canada, and some other countries. It is natural that such rules are adopted. When all the works are more or less standardized, it is easier to work with them, create cross-references, etc. It also stands to reason that different groups of science may need different documentary conventions because of the gaps between the disciplines and their usage.

MLA style is mostly used in humanities, as it may be understood from its name (Modern Language Association) in linguistics. When in a college or university, students are not purposefully taught what is MLA format for an essay; they are expected to figure out it on their own. Below, you’ll find a list of its major peculiarities along with some MLA format tips to make your introduction to this style quick and easy:

  • In the bibliography, all the information about a book appears in a pre-determined order and looks like this: Surname, First name. Title of Book. Place of Publication: Publisher, Year. (e.g., Smith, John. Essay Writing for Everybody. New York: New York Research Press, 2002.)
  • MLA style uses short in-text citations after the quote, a reference to its source or a paraphrase. It gives the author’s name and the number of the page (e.g., Jones 151).
  • When you cite online sources, you should complete your reference by mentioning the date when you have accessed it.
  • If you refer to a well-known and commonly accessible reference book, don’t mention all the publication information – only edition and publication year.
  • Previously, the MLA style used underlining in titles. Recently, the standard MLA heading formatting has been replaced by italicizing.
  • The latest edition of the MLA format citation guide suggests that there is no need in mentioning URLs, for Internet addresses tend to change very often. You should only mention them if there is any doubt that readers will be able to find them in any other way.
  • Abbreviations: n. pag. – no pagination, n.p. – no publisher’s name, n.d. – no date.

As you may see, the MLA style influences the citation and bibliography formatting most of all. There are certain other points, but you can clear them up by asking your professor. Remember to study the guide and related essay writing tips carefully before beginning to work on your paper, for if you omit something, it may be very bothersome to make alterations during the later stages of your work.

Please notice that here only the most major points are mentioned and, if you have to deal with a situation that is not mentioned here, we recommend that you consult the latest guide for the proper MLA format information on other cases of formatting.

Remember, it is better to use correct formatting from the stage of writing drafts. It is also recommended to write down all the information considering sources you take as a basis at the stage of literature research so as not to forget some important details.

In order to see MLA format essay example with properly formatted references and bibliography, view the corresponding sample.
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