How to Write a Paper in MLA Format

How to Write a Paper in MLA FormatWriting a paper is an integral part of every college student’s academic program. But not every student knows the right way to write a paper. Even if you understand the basics of how to develop your ideas and create a strong narrative, you might not be familiar with the basics of formatting and documentation that differ in different courses and for different papers.

And even if you know one style, you might not know others. Most assignments ask students to write in one of the standard styles of formatting and documentation, which include APA, MLA, and Chicago. In this article, we’ll examine the Modern Language Association (MLA) style of formatting and documentation to review some of the ways you can begin formatting and using this style.

Before we begin, it’s important to consider what MLA format is and why we use it. MLA format is a documentation and paper formatting style created by the Modern Language Association and designed for use primarily in English, cultural studies, the humanities and related disciplines.

Because these fields place less weight on currency of information and more weight on the publication history of information, the documentation style focuses heavily on the author, the title, and the type of information presented and much less on the date of publication. Other formatting styles, such as APA, prioritize the date of publication, placing it near the beginning of a citation.

Key Elements of an MLA Citation

First, MLA citations are designed to connect the reader to the source of information for a particular part of your essay, article, research paper, etc. There are two parts to an MLA citation. The first is the in-text citation, and the second is the reference list entry. We’ll take a look at in-text citations, also known as parenthetical citations, first.

In MLA format, whenever you use information, ideas, or direct language from an outside source, you need to document that language with a parenthetical reference that tells the reader which entry in your works cited list to consult for the source of that information. In MLA format, a parenthetical reference includes the author’s name and the date of publication. Unlike other formats, it does not include the year of publication.

For example, if you were citing a book written by a woman named Jasmine Reynolds and found the information on page 53, your in-text parenthetical citation would look like this (Reynolds 53).

The information included in parenthetical citations can differ based on specific situations. For example, when there are two pieces from the same author, you will need to include the first word of the title after the author’s name to distinguish between them. There are also special rules for how to list multiple authors, especially when there are three or more. 

The in-text citation needs to match the reference list entry which appears in a bibliography at the end of your paper labeled “Works Cited.” This is an alphabetical list of all of the sources used in your paper—and only those sources. Unlike a traditional bibliography, which lists all of the sources consulted in a paper, an MLA Works Cited list provides only those sources actually cited in the paper.

The MLA works cited list begins each entry with the name of the author, giving the last name first and the first name after. Unlike other styles, MLA gives the author’s full name with no abbreviation. Following the name, MLA gives the title of the book or article, and then the publication information, and the date of publication.

Online sources have a special format where you indicate that the source is online. Giving the full URL is now optional since MLA assumes that readers are able to use a search engine like Google to locate a source listed in the works cited list.

Hidden Aspects of MLA Formatting Style

While the majority of MLA formatting lessons fixate on reference formatting, there are other aspects of MLA style that many users often forget.

For example, MLA format has special rules for how to format headings, with different levels of heading and special rules for when and how to deploy them. When using MLA format, be sure to check a reputable style guide. If you aren’t comfortable with MLA format, there is good news! There are people available who can help you with your paper.

All you need to do is to contact a reputable writing service like and tell them online: “I can pay someone to write my paper.”

When you pay professional academic writers for the essay help you need, you’ll find that you will receive the kind of expert help that only a website devoted to providing exceptional online paper writing help can deliver. Feel free to tell the experts what you need. They’ll be happy to help you for cheap.

Why is Formatting Still So Important?

With new editions of APA, MLA and other formatting style guides being published we wonder — are those citation rules still as valuable as they have been before? Digitalizations makes things easier, simplifies everything, and one would expect to have less trouble with formatting and citations.

Finally, maybe it should be gone just like calligraphy had. Fortunately or not, formatting styles and attention to academic citations will stay in the scene for a long time from now.

Digitalization didn’t eliminate this need, but rather increased it. The amount of “borrowed” or better say “plagiarized” texts grows significantly, and attention to citations in students’ papers is one way to fight it. The more texts are published, the bigger is the need for uniformity.

Cataloguing is often done not manually, but via special programmed algorithms. Those algorithms should be able to locate authors of the sources, publication date, name, etc. Students often complain that they spend too much time just formatting their papers. To save some time, you can use citation generators online, but you need to make sure they have the latest updates of MLA and APA guides.

Second, you can delegate some of your papers to a professional writing service, and focus on assignments that are interesting for you. When working on a paper that makes you curious, dealing with formatting seems much less irritating.

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