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A Comprehensive Guide to Using the MLA Format

Fundamentals of the MLA format

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 John Millar   Published On May 30, 2022 | Updated on May 20, 2023  Writing Service

Most students in the field of humanities do not know how to use the MLA format guides properly, thus receiving poor grades. So, it is time to brush up your basic knowledge of the MLA format to ace your field of humanities.

The MLA format guideline more was created for all sub disciplines falling under liberal arts and humanities by the Modern Language Association (MLA). Therefore, practically every writer should be familiar with the fundamentals of the MLA format rule.

Before you know the tricks to formatting a research paper or assignment in MLA style, let us know a brief overview about the evolution of the MLA format.

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A Brief Overview of the MLA Format

The MLA or Modern Language Association was initially created for students, intellectuals, and researchers interested in literature and language. It instructs them on formatting their work consistently and uniformly.

Other fields, on the other hand, have adopted the style. In April 2021, the Modern Language Association released its most recent edition. The edition is the ninth revision of the style.

Here are the important guidelines on how to write a paper using the MLA format as per the latest edition:

  • Your work should be typed in 12 pt. font, double-spaced. Times New Roman is the default font.
  • Because italics are used for book titles and other longer works, limit or completely avoid bold or italics text for emphasis.
  • After all punctuation marks, there should only be one space. Adding two spaces is obsolete and misleading because word processing equipment already accounts for the space after a punctuation mark.
  • The margins on all sides of your paper should be one inch.
  • If you're creating an essay or other researched content with a title, it should be unique, centered, and not bolded (unless otherwise indicated). If your title includes the title of a book or article, make any necessary changes to the titles (italics, quotation marks).
  • The title should be in the title case; every word should not be capitalized.
  • Your first and subsequent paragraphs should be indented one-half inch from the document's left. Use the TAB button function to indent rather than the space bar.
  • Include a header, your name, and the page number at the top of your document.

Also Read: Difference Between MLA and APA Citation

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How to Add to In-Text Citations in MLA Style of Formatting?

Before you begin with the details of MLA Formatting, know that it follows the author-page style:

(Last Name Page Number) and does not use a comma between them. You must use the author's last name and list the page or number of pages referenced in a given section.

General format:

He noted that the little boy who wore "the yellow slicker was George Denbrough," which we discovered was Bill's younger brother (King 3).

Here is how to create a citation as per the MLA format:

Step 1 – Record

Record all the information (descriptive parts) needed to produce a citation while reading a document. For direct quotations and journal articles or book chapters, you should provide page numbers in your notes.

The following lists will assist you in keeping track of the information you'll need to generate your references. Photocopied papers from journals or book chapters should be handled with caution. Maintain track of the journal in which the article was published or the book in which the chapter was discovered.

For the entire book

  • Author's surname and given name or initials
  • Title of publication
  • Title of series, if applicable
  • Volume number or number of volumes, if applicable
  • Edition, if not the first
  • Editor, reviser, compiler or translator, if other than the author
  • Publisher
  • Year of publication
  • Page number(s), if applicable
  • Parts of books (chapters, sections, conference papers, etc.)


In addition to the details for a book, take note of the following information to be specific:


  • Author's surname and given name or initials
  • Title of the article
  • Title of the journal
  • Volume and issue number
  • Year of publication
  • Inclusive page numbers


Electronic records

Internet sites, journal articles published on the internet, and journal articles retrieved from a full-text database are all instances of electronic format publications.

Government reports and journal articles, for example, are published in both paper and electronic formats.

Keep track of the descriptive elements for electronic journal articles as described above. In addition, make a note of pertinent information from the list below.


  • Authors surname and given name or initials (if given)
  • Corporate author name (if given)
  • Title of the document
  • Title of the webpage
  • Database name
  • Page or section numbers (if given)
  • Year of publication or latest update date
  • DOI (Digital Object Identifier)
  • Internet address

Step 2 - Get organized

Any source papers you may have should be filed or stored in a way that allows you to access it later. You can write all of the details on the print copy of an article you're using, or you might want to keep a filing system for each reference item you use.

Alternatively, you might keep a master reference list on your computer, to which you can add information as needed.

You can manage your references with various software packages, one of which is EndNote.

These apps can generate works cited lists in your preferred format, i.e., MLA Format.

Step 3 – Cite the source

The following are examples of a citing a paper in MLA format for any style of content or text. 

Step 4 – List

Finish your essay or thesis with a Works Cited list. Italics should be used for book and journal titles. Capitalization and punctuation should be constant and differ depending on the citation style used.

In MLA format, a Works cited list is usually organized alphabetically by the author, with the author's surname coming before the given name or initials. When an item has no author, the first significant word of the title is usually listed alphabetically in the Works Cited list.

Examples of Citing Various Sources as per the MLA Format

A. Journal Article Citation with One Author

Structure -

Author Last Name, First Name. "Title of Article." Journal Title, vol. #, issue #, publication date, page number(s). Database Title, DOI (if available) or URL (without https://), or Permalink. Access Date (supplemental).

Example -

Adams, Mark C. "Educating the Music User." Music Educators Journal, vol. 103, no. 1, 2016, pp. 64–69. JSTOR, Accessed 15 Feb. 2020.

In-text citation

Example 1 Teachers who connect classroom learning with students' daily interaction with music can better serve student's needs (Adams 64).

Example 2 According to Mark Adams, music educators who connect classroom learning with students' daily interaction with music can better serve student's needs (64).

Example 3 In his 2016 article on music education, Mark Adams says, "Music educators must connect classroom learning with how students use and interact with music in their daily lives" (64).

B. Citing a Journal Article in MLA (Print)

Structure -

Author Last Name, First Name. "Article Title." Journal Title, vol. #, issue #, publication date, page numbers.

Example -

Anand, Raktima, et al. "Management of Swine-flu Patients in the Intensive Care Unit: Our Experience." Journal of Anesthesiology Clinical Pharmacology, vol. 28, no. 1, 2012, pp. 51-55.

In-text Citation

Structure -

(Author's Last Name page #)

(First Author's Last Name and Second Author's Last Name page #)

(First Author's Last Name et al. page #)

Example -

(Anand et al. 52)

Final Words…

MLA Formatting is a skill you will learn while working with it throughout your academics. So keep these expert guidelines handy when you begin, as it will lessen your stress, and you can already ace the basics.

Learn the style of MLA format from the in house experts of

MLA Format is the most preferred formatting style for assignments or any paper for humanities. However, students find it difficult to grasp the technique and get confused.

But you can get rid of such problems by connecting with the Ph.D. experts at, who know best about the MLA formatting style.


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