The Modern Language Association or MLA style of citation is often used in the humanities, including English, Literature, some Social Sciences and History. It is simple and concise and is more amenable for papers that are not particular citation-heavy. It is similar to the APA guidelines and nearly as popular.
The Guidelines for MLA:
Unlike APA, MLA does not require a partial title in the header, but it does require the author’s last name and the page number, in the upper right. Leave five spaces between the name and the number. To access the header in MS WORD, go to the top of any page in the document and double click. A blue dotted line will appear with a small box on the lower left-hand corner that reads “Header” and above this will appear your cursor. A box will drop down simultaneously. Click the “Page Number” box and follow these directions. Click on the first option- “Top of the Page.” Then click the one that reads “Plain Number 3.” A number corresponding to the page you are on will appear on the right-hand side of the header. Your cursor is now on the left side of the number. Type your partial title and then press the space bar five times. Now double click anywhere in the body of the main document and your page number header is set. Here is an example of a header in MLA format:
MLA does not require a title page; the author and title may go above the text on the first page.
The first page should contain the author’s name, instructor’s name, course name and number, and the date—each on a separate double-spaced line, on the left side of the page. Then, add another double space and put the title, centered, above the text of the paper. The title should be neither underlined nor written in all capital letters. Capitalize only the first, last, and principal words of the title. Here is an example of a first page in MLA format:
Prof. Eric Johnson
October 23, 2009
A Closer Look at The Great Gatsby
Since this section will explain the reference page(s) of the paper, we must discuss plagiarism and in-text citations. References are used to guard against plagiarism. Plagiarism is a crime that can result in a bad grade, expulsion from a class or in the worst scenario dismissal from the college or university. There have also been court cases when the plagiarism has been especially egregious. In-text citations tell the reader who is responsible for the ideas presented, and either when the original piece was written, its page number or both.
Like, APA, MLA relies on in-text citations. The format is comparatively simple:
Perodicals, Books, & Websites
For a periodical, you put the author’s last name and the page number. An example of an MLA citation would look like this:
To summarize, after you have either quoted the person or presented an idea the person is responsible for, give them credit as indicated above. If the in-text citation is at the end of a sentence, place the punctuation mark after the parenthesis. The above example can be written generically as: (Last Name, Page Number).
If there is no page number (some websites do not use numbers), generally the author’s name will be sufficient.
For every in-text citation there must be a reference listed and vice versa. This reference is a complete acknowledgement of the author(s) and information on how the audience can access find the referenced material.
The reference page, similar to the title page, is completely separate from the rest of the paper. After you have finished writing your paper and entered the last period in the document, hit enter to add an extra space, then press the “Insert” button in the tool bar. From the resulting that drop down menu select “Page Break” and a new page will appear where you can record your reference list.
For Books: the following format should be used:
Author. Title of Book. City of Publication: Publisher, Year.
An example of a book citation in MLA format would look like:
Jones, Marvin. The Complete Works. New York City: Apricot Books, 2009.
If there is more than one author, the second name is not inverted:
Jones, Marvin and William Smith.
For Magazines: MLA format appears as follows:
Author. "Title of Article." Title of Magazine Date: Page(s).
Jones, Marvin. “Re-examining The Great Gatsby.” Time October 23, 2009: 15-23.
For Websites: MLA format appears as:
Title of the site. Editor. Date and/or Version Number. Name of Sponsoring Institution.
Date of Access <URL>.
Marvin Jones. "F. Scott Fitzgerald World." 15 2008. University of Chicago. October 23, 2009. <www.uchic.edu/depts/lit/authors/fitzgerald>
Remember, for all citations, the second line is always indented.
Also note the paper should be written in size 12 font, preferably in Time New Roman or something similar. It should be double spaced and references indented as demonstrated above.