If you are preparing an essay or research paper for college, the chances are high that you are going to need a few tips on writing an essay in MLA style. More often than not, when you get to the college level, there are two formatting styles that professors are looking for: APA (American Psychological Association) style or MLA (Modern Language Association) style. The differences are varied.
MLA style is commonly used in many colleges throughout the U.S., so learning the style and tips on writing in MLA style will serve you well throughout your college education.
Guidelines of MLA Style
The MLA essay format meets the standard layout guidelines as set out by the Modern Language Association.
MLA style references a bibliography as a works cited page. When typing up your works cited page there are a few things that you should do.
Depending on how many sources you have and the type of sources that you used (whether a book, article, or internet-based source), you will want to pay special attention to the author’s name, title of the book, publication date, publisher and place of publication.
MLA 8 uses a new method to create citation entries. This container system allows flexibility by creating nine core elements within a container. Use this basic works cited format:
- Last Name, First Name. Title of Book. Publisher, Publication Date.
Let’s say that you used books only as your sources of information. You will want to list the sources in alphabetical order by the authors' last name. For example, if you had two sources you would list them as follows:
- Johnson, James. U.S. Trade Relations. Hummingbird Press, 1989.
- Main, Jerry. Campside Sounds. Rice Press, 1992.
If you’re including sources with no known author, place the title as the first element and alphabetize accordingly.
Each in-text citation should match up with a works-cited entry.
Don't forget to edit and proofread your essay carefully before submission and ensure it follows your professor's instructions exactly.
And if you're wondering whether to quote or paraphrase sources in your essay be sure to read our article on when to quote, paraphrase or summarize.