how to write an essay in mla format

how to write an essay in mla format

A Comprehensive Guide to Writing Essays in MLA Format

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1. Introduction to MLA Format

The 7th ed. of the MLA Handbook contains the new information about in-text citations; you should check with your instructors and follow their guidelines. Additionally, many academic departments have discipline specific author guidelines or exceptions to MLA style to facilitate correct documentation; you should check which style your department uses and verify all required documentation. If you have questions, you can always check the handbook.

MLA style uses a citation in the text of a paper to refer the reader to the works cited page. Thus, the writer includes the author and title in their prose or in the parenthetical citation along with the page number (when available) as well as in specific bibliographical form on the work cited page. Because most works are published and essentially the same materials are found both in print and electronic sources, MLA style primarily addresses how to create a citation that will be included in the works cited and how to refer to the quotation or paraphrase or the source. By concentrating on our readers, writers use citations to demonstrate their knowledge and to complement the papers. In the following pages, you will learn about in-text citation form and works-cited page form and to create an MLA essay.

The Modern Language Association (MLA) is the primary professional association for language and literature scholars. Its documentation system is commonly used in the fields of English and foreign language and in other disciplines that study languages and/or their literatures or cultures.

2. Structuring Your Essay in MLA Style

Following up on the introduction, the structure of the paper should logically follow up with the body of the work. This is the text where you can present evidence on your claim and thesis. Here, you can deliver arguments and testimonials from the text to support that your view is credible and rational. Be sure to use a topic sentence at the beginning of the paragraph for every new point in order to start all your papers. Use your research, quotes, and other evidence as examples. Always be sure to make certain that all outside entries are correctly referenced and placed in the right location. Always ensure that a well-clarifying point is delivered along with your citation. Keep in mind that no page references, footnotes, or endnotes should be used in a body with a clear topic area.

In the introductory section of the paper, it is important to provide the reader with an introduction to the subject at hand. Be sure to describe the problem under consideration, the text being considered, its source, and concisely present your thesis in one or two sentences. However, keep in mind that your introduction should be brief. When considering the act of writing an introduction, simply write about the point of view from which you plan to approach the topic. You will have an opportunity to add more information to your introduction once you’ve completed your paper.

The structure of an MLA paper

3. In-Text Citations and Works Cited Page

For your Works Cited entries, you will have to include the author (if a person), title of the work (or title of the book or cite if no author), city where the work was published, the name of the publisher, word count, medium of publication, and the date the source was accessed or retrieved. In actual fact, only bibliographic entries that relate to the cited source material within the essay are included in the Works Cited page, and thus, unlike a bibliography, you will not include any sources that are never mentioned in the paper. Nevertheless, so as to make the Works Cited page vector seem like the subheading, center the title, and bold the entire first line in the middle of the page. But there is no need to bold it throughout and do not put it in quotation marks since the title is a complete sentence. Always aim to double space after each citation, does not skip spaces, and indent to the entries in the Works Cited page.

Works Cited Page

When quoting or paraphrasing any information from the relevant source, you will need to include an in-text citation that will guide the readers to have a detailed explanation at the end of the paper on the Works Cited page. You can also use a signal phrase to introduce the quote or paraphrasing that will let the readers know the author’s name, the page number, and the source’s title. In your entire paper, every source material that has been written by any other person should have an in-text citation. The author of the source material and the specific page number should be included if it is quoted directly in your essay. Imagine there is no author culture from any website. When quoting from any website, you will just need to include the author’s name and do not put it in quotes if there is no page or paragraph number to the source.

In-text Citations

4. Common Mistakes to Avoid in MLA Formatting

Avoid using “I” or “you”, and be careful not to plagiarize what many professors already have memorized. Be original and creative, since they want to grade on the writing, not a given topic.

Do not stretch the document to make it appear to be longer than it is. It is important that the works cited list remains readable as spaces between entries are not necessary nor impressive looking.

The title you choose should be relevant to the topic as well as attention-grabbing.

Citing a source is the only way to use that source. Do not quote or mention the idea in the text if you do not plan to reference the idea.

All the essentials of MLA formatting were reviewed in earlier sections, but there are several common mistakes that are frequently made and especially important to avoid. MLA format was set up by the Modern Language Association in order to create a standard method of documenting sources and format of writing assignments, and it should be followed exactly! Some of the most common issues are covered in this helpful, short list of common mistakes to avoid:

5. Resources for Further Assistance

If you are teaching writing or citation, there can be no substitute for the elements of style. Even if you have not purchased this text, there are plenty of resources that can be accessed for free. You can find questions and quizzes that are modeled off of the elements of style for free online, as well as numerous worksheets and power points. These materials may not be directly related to your works cited pages or how to integrate quotations, but they are tackling the same problems in a different way. When you encounter conclusions and resistance to your instructions in integrating quotes and citing properly, or if you need a new approach with a finicky class, these materials are a good source.

The official website for MLA is an excellent source for this type of information. One of the best features of the official website is an FAQ section. When you have questions about how to format essays, position works cited pages, and other issues that are confounding you, check this out. The website also has a search function so that if you have a specific question or problem, you can check that out. There is a teaching resources section on this website. Here you can find a lot of helpful items and worksheets that can help. Another source that can help is the MLA style guide. This is the text that will provide general guidelines and requirements for essays. Check to make sure you have a recent version, with the proper year and edition, though.

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