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The MLA Citation Style

The APA, Chicago and MLA styles are currently the most popular writing standards in academic circles. You will probably be required to use the Modern Language Association (MLA) style if you are studying social sciences or humanities. This style is useful for anyone working with different sources of literature because it is very detailed. For example, a writer using non-standard types of media sources will find guidance on how to cite these.   

Before beginning to write, there are some key requirements to bear in mind:

Double-spacing should be used throughout. There does not need to be any additional breaks in a citation page.

It is highly recommended that subscripts and footnotes are placed within the text so that writers can give a more detailed explanation and/or add other important information.   

It is only when writing about historical or past events that you should use the past tense. Otherwise, it is recommended you use the present tense version of verbs.  

Margins on all sides of every page should be one inch. 

The recommended font is Time News Roman in size 12pt.   

Within a text, citations should include the name of the author and the relevant page number, with all information in parentheses, for example, (Jones 53).

There should be just one key space after every punctuation mark.

To create a one-and-a-half margin for the first line of each paragraph, you can use the tab key.

Headers are required on every page when using the MLA style. These should contain the writers surname and the relevant page number, for example, “Smith 6.”   

It is usual practice to avoid italics, but these can be used when citations are quite lengthy.   

A works cited page or list is created as a separate list or page at the end of a text. Authors and any of their works you cite should be listed in alphabetic order.

It is now easy to set up the required format in your word processing software and begin typing.   

All essays should be correctly structured along the lines described below:

  • An introductory paragraph explaining the paper’s topic and providing the central argument or thesis statement.
  • Some body paragraphs setting out any arguments you wish to make and evidence to support your claims. The paragraphs start with a topic sentence and go on to expand on the topic by providing any necessary or relevant details.
  • A concluding paragraph is used to summarize the entire paper. 

A works cited list is a crucial component of any essay. It is important to make sure your formatting is correct and remember to cite every source you have used.

While the MLA style does not usually require a title or cover page, instructors sometimes request one. You will find several free samples of title or cover pages online or your tutor may provide you with specific instructions for this page and/or even an example. In any case, remember to put your surname in your paper’s header and check with your tutor if the title page needs to be numbered.   

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