Grad Coach

MLA 9th Edition Formatting

A Simple, Step-by-Step Guide + Free Template

By: Derek Jansen (MBA) | Reviewer: Eunice Rautenbach (DTech) | July 2023

Formatting your paper in MLA style can feel like a pretty daunting task . In this post, we’ll show you exactly how to set up your paper for MLA (9th edition), as quickly and easily as possible. We’ll also share our popular free MLA template , to help you fast-track your writing.

Overview: MLA 9th Edition Formatting

  • Structure and layout
  • General page setup
  • The opening section
  • The main body
  • Works cited (reference list)
  • Free MLA 9 template

MLA Structure and Layout

Let’s start by looking at the overall structure of a typical student paper formatted for MLA 9th edition, before diving into the details of each section. For the most part, MLA papers follow a standardised structure, consisting of the following parts:

The opening section : While MLA doesn’t require a dedicated title page (unlike APA ), it does require an opening section that details some important information about yourself, your university and the paper itself.

The main body : The main body begins directly after the opening section on the first page. This is the “heart” of your paper and there are a very specific requirements regarding how you present and format this content.

The appendix (or appendices):  While using an appendix in a student paper is relatively uncommon, you’ll place this section directly after the main body section, if required by your university.

The “Works Cited” list : This section is equivalent to what we’d usually call a references page and it’s where you’ll detail all the reference information corresponding to the in-text citations in the main body of your paper.

These four sections form the standard structure and order of a student paper using MLA 9th edition. As we mentioned, not all sections are always required , so be sure to double check what your university expects from you before submitting. Also, it’s always a good idea to ask your university if they have any  style requirements in addition to the standard MLA specification.

Now that we’ve got a big-picture view of the typical paper structure, let’s look at the specific formatting requirements for each of these sections.

Generic Page Setup

Before you jump into writing up your paper, you’ll first need to set up your document to align with MLA’s generic page requirements. Alternatively, you can download our MLA paper template (which comes fully preformatted).

MLA 9th edition requires a 1-inch margin on all sides , for all pages. That said, if you’re writing a dissertation, thesis or any document that will ultimately be printed and bound, your university will likely require a larger left margin to accommodate for physical binding.

Fonts & sizing

MLA does not require that you use any specific font, but we do recommend sticking to the tried and tested , well-accepted fonts. For example, you might consider using one of the following:

  • Sans serif fonts : Calibri (11), Arial (11), or Lucida Sans Unicode (10)
  • Serif fonts : Times New Roman (12), Georgia (11), or Computer Modern (10)

Whichever font you opt for, be sure to use it consistently throughout your paper . Don’t chop and change, or use different fonts for different parts of the document (e.g., different fonts for the body text and the headings). Also, keep in mind that while MLA does not have a specific font requirement, your university may have its own preference or requirement. So, be sure to check with them beforehand regarding any additional specifications they may have.

In general, all text throughout your document needs to be left-aligned and should not be justified (i.e., leave an uneven right edge). You might consider using a different alignment for section headings, but in general, it’s best to keep things simple .

Line spacing

MLA 9th edition requires double line spacing throughout the document . There should also be no extra space before and after paragraphs . This applies to all sections of the paper, including the “Works Cited” page (more on this later).

Page header

Last but not least, you’ll need to set up a running header for your document. This should contain your last name, followed by the page number. Both of these should be positioned in the top right corner of all pages (even the first page). On a related note, there’s no need for you to include any footer content unless your university specifically requests it.

Now that we’ve looked at the generic formatting considerations, let’s dive into the specific requirements for each section of your paper.

The Opening Section

While MLA-formatted papers typically don’t require a title page, there are very specific requirements regarding the opening section of the first page .

Here’s how you can set your first page up for MLA 9th edition.

  • On the first line, write your full name (flush left)
  • On a new line, write your professor or instructor’s full name
  • On a new line, write the course code and course name
  • On a new line, write the full date spelt out (e.g., 15 June 2023)
  • On a new line, write the full title of your paper , centre-aligned and using title case (consider using a title case converter if you’re not familiar with this)
  • On a new line, begin your body content

All of the above should be in plain, unformatted font – in other words, you don’t need to apply any boldfacing, underlining , etc. That said, you should use italics whenever you’re writing out the titles of other works (for example, titles of books or articles).

To make it all a little more tangible, below is an example of a first page formatted according to the MLA specifications that we just covered.

An example of the opening section of a paper formatted for MLA 9

The Main Body

While the formatting requirements for the body section are relatively light for MLA (at least when compared to APA ), there are still quite a few important things to pay attention to. Here’s what you need to know to get started.

Each of your paragraphs needs to start on a new line , and the first sentence of each paragraph requires a half-inch indent (while the rest of the paragraph is flush left aligned). Note that each paragraph simply starts on a new line and doesn’t require an additional blank line.

MLA 9th edition is fairly flexible in terms of heading formatting. There is no specified formatting, so you can decide what works best for you. However, there are still a few basic rules you need to follow:

  • All your headings should be written in title case – never use all caps
  • There should be no period following a heading
  • Each heading level needs to be uniquely formatted and easily distinguishable from other levels (for example, a distinct difference in terms of boldfacing, underlining or italicisation)
  • You can have as many heading levels as you need, but each level must have at least two instances

Abbreviations

When using abbreviations, you’ll need to make sure that you’re using the MLA version of the abbreviation . Below we’ve listed a few common ones you should be aware of:

  • Appendix: app.
  • Circa: c. or ca.
  • Chapter: ch.
  • Column: col.
  • Definition: def.
  • Department: dept.
  • Example: e.g.
  • Edition: ed.
  • Figure: fig.
  • Foreword: fwd.
  • That is: i.e.
  • Journal: jour.
  • Library: lib.
  • Manuscript(s): MS
  • Number: no.
  • Quoted in: qtd. in
  • Revised: rev.
  • Section: sec. or sect.
  • Series: ser.
  • Translation: trans.
  • Version: vers.
  • Variant: var.
  • Volume: vol.

If you’re interested, you can find a more comprehensive list here . Alternatively, if you have access to the MLA 9th edition handbook, you can find the full list in the first appendix.

APA 7 editing

In-text citations

MLA 9 has a very specific set of requirements regarding how to cite your sources within the body of your paper. Here are some of the most important things to help you get started with MLA citations.

Author-page number system: in-text citations consist of (at a minimum) the lead author’s last name, followed by the page number of the paragraph you are citing. There is no comma between the two components (only a space).

Types of citations: MLA allows two types of in-text citations: parenthetical and narrative . Parenthetical citations feature the author and page number in parentheses (brackets) at the end of the respective sentence. Here’s an example:

MLA 9th edition is easy to grasp if you visit the Grad Coach blog (Jansen 13).

Narrative citations, on the other hand, weave the author’s name into the flow of the sentence and then present the publication date in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Here’s an example:

Jansen states that MLA 9th edition is easy for students to grasp if they visit the Grad Coach blog (13).

In general, it’s a good idea to utilise a mix of both in your writing. Narrative citations are particularly useful when you want to highlight or contrast authors or their viewpoints, while parenthetical citations are useful when you want to strengthen your own academic voice. In other words, both formats have their respective strengths and weaknesses, so try to use citation format strategically in your writing.

Quotations: when quoting text verbatim from a source, there is no need to do anything differently in terms of the citation itself, but do remember to wrap the verbatim text in quotation marks. Here’s an example:

Jansen proposes that MLA 9th edition is “easy to grasp if you visit the Grad Coach blog” (13).

Multiple authors: when citing resources that were authored by three or more people, you only need to list the lead author, followed by “et al.”. Here’s an example:

MLA 9th edition is easy to grasp if you visit the Grad Coach blog (Jansen et al. 13).

 Below are a few more examples from our free MLA template .

Example of MLA in-text citations

Please keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list of all the MLA 9th edition citation-related requirements – just a shortlist of the most commonly relevant ones. If you’d like to learn more, consult the MLA handbook .

The Works Cited (Reference List)

The final section that you’ll need to pay close attention to is the “Works Cited” page, which should contain a list of reference information for all the sources cited in the body of the paper. Again, MLA has a quite a meaty set of specifications regarding the content and formatting of this list, but we’ll cover the basics here to get your started on the right foot. 

Basic setup

Your reference list needs to start on a new page and should be titled “Works Cited”. The title should be unformatted and centred . The reference list should then start on the next line. As with the rest of your document, you should use double line spacing throughout.

When it comes to the reference list itself, you’ll need to keep the following in mind:

  • All the sources that you cited in the body of your document should feature in the reference list. Make sure that every citation is accounted for .
  • The references should be ordered alphabetically , according to the lead author’s last name .
  • The exact information required within each entry depends on the type of content being referenced (e.g., a journal article, web page, etc.)
  • Components that may need to feature (other than the author) include the title of the source, the title of the container, other contributors, the article version or number, the publisher, the publication date, and the location.
  • All references should be left-aligned and should use a hanging indent – i.e., the second line of any given reference (if it has one) should be indented a half inch.

We have to stress that these are just the basics. MLA 9th edition requires that your references be structured and formatted in a very specific way , depending on the type of resource. If you plan to draft your reference list manually, it’s important to consult your university’s style guide or the MLA manual itself. This leads us to our next point…

In general, it’s a bad idea to write your reference list manually . Given the incredibly high level of intricacy involved, it’s highly likely that you’ll make mistakes if you try to craft this section yourself. A better solution is to use (free) reference management software such as Mendeley or Zotero . Either of these will take care of the formatting and content for you, and they’ll do a much more accurate job of it too. 

If you’re not familiar with any sort of reference management software, be sure to check out our easy-to-follow Mendeley explainer video below.

Wrapping Up

In this post, we’ve provided a primer covering how to format your paper according to MLA 9th edition. To recap, we’ve looked at the following:

  • The structure and layout
  • The general page setup
  • The “Works Cited” page (reference list)

Remember to always check your university’s style guide to familiarise yourself with any additional requirements they may. Also, if your university has specified anything that contrasts what we’ve discussed here, please do follow their guidance . 

If you need any help formatting your paper for MLA 9, take a look at our “done for you” language editing and proofreading service . Simply send us your document and we’ll take care of all the MLA formatting intracies on your behalf. 

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how to properly format an essay mla

Microsoft 365 Life Hacks > Writing > Writing an Essay in MLA Format

Writing an Essay in MLA Format

Knowing how to write a Modern Language Association—or MLA—essay is an essential part of making it through school these days. Be warned, however, that daunting little tasks await around every corner—whether it’s knowing where to set your margins, how to edit a header, the right way to format a heading, and beyond!

Someone using a tablet to study for an essay on coral and sea life.

While we can’t write your paper for you, this guide can certainly help you understand the proper MLA format for your essay. Keep reading to learn about writing an MLA-format paper with some tips for making sure it’s done right the first time.

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What is an MLA-format essay? It’s not uncommon for associations and organizations to follow a standard format and writing style. The Associated Press (AP) and University of Chicago styles are most common in professional settings. News outlets typically prefer the AP style, while businesses and creative agencies will choose the Chicago style. Academia, on the other hand, traditionally follows APA and MLA styles. APA (not the same as AP style) comes from the American Psychological Association and is used in scholarly articles. An MLA-format essay fits the established style for citing references and formatting essays established by the Modern Language Association.

Required elements of an MLA-format paper. MLA is the preferred style when writing an essay in high school and most college settings. As with other writing styles, there are specific characteristics and items an MLA-format paper needs to include to fit the bill of the style. Every MLA-format essay must include the following:

  • One-inch margins
  • Double-spaced text
  • Easy-to-read font (typically Times New Roman) in size 12
  • New paragraphs indented 0.5 inches
  • Italicized media titles (books, magazines, etc.), no underlining
  • Page numbers in the header 0.5 inches from the top of the page
  • Oxford comma
  • Center-justified title
  • Headings and subheadings
  • Clearly labeled and titled tables and figures
  • Parenthetical citations

In addition to the listed elements above, every MLA essay must include a Works Cited. MLA format doesn’t require a title page, but it also doesn’t deem them unnecessary, so it’s up to your professor whether you’ll need one or not. One way to take the edge off the process of writing this type of essay is to use a free template or a handy built-in tool that helps you build bibliographies and more.

A graphic depicting how to set up the headings for an MLA format essay.

Tips for meeting MLA formatting guidelines. It’s said that the devil is in the details, and it’s never truer than when it comes to MLA-format essays. The following tips are areas to pay attention to when writing your essay:

  • Set your margins. Your software might be set to one-inch margins, double-spaced text, and 0.5-inch indentations by default—but you can save yourself the trouble (and a headache) later in the writing process by adjusting them before you get started. Of course, one of the best parts about using a computer to write your essay is that you can always make adjustments later.
  • Straighten out your headings . One area students might miss with MLA formatting is with the title, headings, and subheadings. It’s normal to want to use bold or italicized typeface on your titles and headings to make them stand out from the rest of the text. MLA style specifically calls for them to match the rest of the text without any alterations aside from title case. A centered or left-justified heading will stand out enough from the rest of your text that it needn’t any additional adjustments.
  • Understand subheadings. While primary headings aren’t to receive any special formatting, subheadings will be changed to set them apart from their headings. For example, if your heading is about mammals, you might have subheadings about land and water mammals. You can further organize your water mammals subheading into types of whales and dolphins. Using subheadings helps to organize your writing and makes it easier to consume as a reader.
  • Know how to cite your work. The information you’re presenting in your essay didn’t mysteriously appear from out of the ether. You need to give credit where it’s due when writing an MLA-format paper, so you’re giving credit to the original author of your sources. You can also improve your writing credibility and avoid plagiarism. Plagiarism is one of the biggest academic offenses a student can commit and could lead to expulsion in some cases. Properly citing your work with parenthetical citations and quoting authors when necessary will help to keep you covered.

When it comes down to it, practice makes perfect. The more essays you write, the better you’ll become at writing and meeting the expectations of MLA style. Before you know it, MLA format will be second nature, and everything will fall into place.

Still having a hard time visualizing what an MLA essay looks like? Check out a sample paper so you can see first-hand how they’re formatted!

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How to Format an Essay

Last Updated: April 11, 2024 Fact Checked

This article was co-authored by Carrie Adkins, PhD and by wikiHow staff writer, Aly Rusciano . Carrie Adkins is the cofounder of NursingClio, an open access, peer-reviewed, collaborative blog that connects historical scholarship to current issues in gender and medicine. She completed her PhD in American History at the University of Oregon in 2013. While completing her PhD, she earned numerous competitive research grants, teaching fellowships, and writing awards. There are 11 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 88,090 times.

You’re opening your laptop to write an essay, knowing exactly what you want to write, but then it hits you—you don’t know how to format it! Using the correct format when writing an essay can help your paper look polished and professional while earning you full credit. There are 3 common essay formats—MLA, APA, and Chicago Style—and we’ll teach you the basics of properly formatting each in this article. So, before you shut your laptop in frustration, take a deep breath and keep reading because soon you’ll be formatting like a pro.

Setting Up Your Document

Step 1 Read over the assignment’s guidelines before you begin.

  • If you can’t find information on the style guide you should be following, talk to your instructor after class to discuss the assignment or send them a quick email with your questions.
  • If your instructor lets you pick the format of your essay, opt for the style that matches your course or degree best: MLA is best for English and humanities; APA is typically for education, psychology, and sciences; Chicago Style is common for business, history, and fine arts.

Step 2 Set your margins to 1 inch (2.5 cm) for all style guides.

  • Most word processors default to 1 inch (2.5 cm) margins.

Step 3 Use Times New Roman font.

  • Do not change the font size, style, or color throughout your essay.

Step 4 Change your font size to 12pt.

  • Change the spacing on Google Docs by clicking on Format , and then selecting “Line spacing.”
  • Click on Layout in Microsoft Word, and then click the arrow at the bottom left of the “paragraph” section.

Step 6 Put the page number and your last name in the top right header for all styles.

  • Using the page number function will create consecutive numbering.
  • When using Chicago Style, don’t include a page number on your title page. The first page after the title page should be numbered starting at 2. [4] X Research source
  • In APA format, a running heading may be required in the left-hand header. This is a maximum of 50 characters that’s the full or abbreviated version of your essay’s title. [5] X Research source

Step 7 Use a title page with APA or Chicago Style format.

  • For APA formatting, place the title in bold at the center of the page 3 to 4 lines down from the top. Insert one double-spaced line under the title and type your name. Under your name, in separate centered lines, type out the name of your school, course, instructor, and assignment due date. [6] X Research source
  • For Chicago Style, set your cursor ⅓ of the way down the page, then type your title. In the very center of your page, put your name. Move your cursor ⅔ down the page, then write your course number, followed by your instructor’s name and paper due date on separate, double-spaced lines. [7] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source

Step 8 Create a left-handed heading for MLA Style essays.

  • Double-space the heading like the rest of your paper.

Writing the Essay Body

Step 1 Center the title of your paper in all style formats.

  • Use standard capitalization rules for your title.
  • Do not underline, italicize, or put quotation marks around your title, unless you include other titles of referred texts.

Step 2 Indent the first line of each paragraph by 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) for all styles.

  • A good hook might include a quote, statistic, or rhetorical question.
  • For example, you might write, “Every day in the United States, accidents caused by distracted drivers kill 9 people and injure more than 1,000 others.”

Step 4 Include a thesis statement at the end of your introduction.

  • "Action must be taken to reduce accidents caused by distracted driving, including enacting laws against texting while driving, educating the public about the risks, and giving strong punishments to offenders."
  • "Although passing and enforcing new laws can be challenging, the best way to reduce accidents caused by distracted driving is to enact a law against texting, educate the public about the new law, and levy strong penalties."

Step 5 Present each of your points in 1 or more paragraphs.

  • Use transitions between paragraphs so your paper flows well. For example, say, “In addition to,” “Similarly,” or “On the other hand.” [12] X Research source

Step 6 Complete your essay with a conclusion.

  • A statement of impact might be, "Every day that distracted driving goes unaddressed, another 9 families must plan a funeral."
  • A call to action might read, “Fewer distracted driving accidents are possible, but only if every driver keeps their focus on the road.”

Using References

Step 1 Create parenthetical citations...

  • In MLA format, citations should include the author’s last name and the page number where you found the information. If the author's name appears in the sentence, use just the page number. [14] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
  • For APA format, include the author’s last name and the publication year. If the author’s name appears in the sentence, use just the year. [15] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
  • If you don’t use parenthetical or internal citations, your instructor may accuse you of plagiarizing.

Step 2 Use footnotes for citations in Chicago Style.

  • At the bottom of the page, include the source’s information from your bibliography page next to the footnote number. [16] X Trustworthy Source Purdue Online Writing Lab Trusted resource for writing and citation guidelines Go to source
  • Each footnote should be numbered consecutively.

Step 3 Center the title of your reference page.

  • If you’re using MLA format, this page will be titled “Works Cited.”
  • In APA and Chicago Style, title the page “References.”

Step 4 List your sources on the references page by author’s last name in alphabetical order.

  • If you have more than one work from the same author, list alphabetically following the title name for MLA and by earliest to latest publication year for APA and Chicago Style.
  • Double-space the references page like the rest of your paper.
  • Use a hanging indent of 0.5 inches (1.3 cm) if your citations are longer than one line. Press Tab to indent any lines after the first. [17] X Research source
  • Citations should include (when applicable) the author(s)’s name(s), title of the work, publication date and/or year, and page numbers.
  • Sites like Grammarly , EasyBib , and MyBib can help generate citations if you get stuck.

Formatting Resources

how to properly format an essay mla

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Write a Reflection Paper

  • ↑ https://www.une.edu.au/__data/assets/pdf_file/0010/392149/WE_Formatting-your-essay.pdf
  • ↑ https://content.nroc.org/DevelopmentalEnglish/unit10/Foundations/formatting-a-college-essay-mla-style.html
  • ↑ https://camosun.libguides.com/Chicago-17thEd/titlePage
  • ↑ https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/paper-format/page-header
  • ↑ https://apastyle.apa.org/style-grammar-guidelines/paper-format/title-page
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/chicago_manual_17th_edition/cmos_formatting_and_style_guide/general_format.html
  • ↑ https://www.uvu.edu/writingcenter/docs/basicessayformat.pdf
  • ↑ https://www.deanza.edu/faculty/cruzmayra/basicessayformat.pdf
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/mla_style/mla_formatting_and_style_guide/mla_in_text_citations_the_basics.html
  • ↑ https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/in_text_citations_the_basics.html
  • ↑ https://library.menloschool.org/chicago

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Home / Guides / Citation Guides / MLA Format / How to Cite an Essay in MLA

How to Cite an Essay in MLA

The guidelines for citing an essay in MLA format are similar to those for citing a chapter in a book. Include the author of the essay, the title of the essay, the name of the collection if the essay belongs to one, the editor of the collection or other contributors, the publication information, and the page number(s).

Citing an Essay

Mla essay citation structure.

Last, First M. “Essay Title.” Collection Title, edited by First M. Last, Publisher, year published, page numbers. Website Title , URL (if applicable).

MLA Essay Citation Example

Gupta, Sanjay. “Balancing and Checking.” Essays on Modern Democracy, edited by Bob Towsky, Brook Stone Publishers, 1996, pp. 36-48. Essay Database, www . databaseforessays.org/modern/modern-democracy.

MLA Essay In-text Citation Structure

(Last Name Page #)

MLA Essay In-text Citation Example

Click here to cite an essay via an EasyBib citation form.

MLA Formatting Guide

MLA Formatting

  • Annotated Bibliography
  • Bibliography
  • Block Quotes
  • et al Usage
  • In-text Citations
  • Paraphrasing
  • Page Numbers
  • Sample Paper
  • Works Cited
  • MLA 8 Updates
  • MLA 9 Updates
  • View MLA Guide

Citation Examples

  • Book Chapter
  • Journal Article
  • Magazine Article
  • Newspaper Article
  • Website (no author)
  • View all MLA Examples

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To cite your sources in an essay in MLA style, you need to have basic information including the author’s name(s), chapter title, book title, editor(s), publication year, publisher, and page numbers. The templates for in-text citations and a works-cited-list entry for essay sources and some examples are given below:

In-text citation template and example:

For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the author on the first occurrence. For subsequent citations, use only the surname(s). In parenthetical citations, always use only the surname of the author(s).

Citation in prose:

First mention: Annette Wheeler Cafarelli

Subsequent occurrences: Wheeler Cafarelli

Parenthetical:

….(Wheeler Cafarelli).

Works-cited-list entry template and example:

The title of the chapter is enclosed in double quotation marks and uses title case. The book or collection title is given in italics and uses title case.

Surname, First Name. “Title of the Chapter.” Title of the Book , edited by Editor(s) Name, Publisher, Publication Year, page range.

Cafarelli, Annette Wheeler. “Rousseau and British Romanticism: Women and British Romanticism.” Cultural Interactions in the Romantic Age: Critical Essays in Comparative Literature , edited by Gregory Maertz. State U of New York P, 1998, pp. 125–56.

To cite an essay in MLA style, you need to have basic information including the author(s), the essay title, the book title, editor(s), publication year, publisher, and page numbers. The templates for citations in prose, parenthetical citations, and works-cited-list entries for an essay by multiple authors, and some examples, are given below:

For citations in prose, use the first name and surname of the author (e.g., Mary Strine).

For sources with two authors, use both full author names in prose (e.g., Mary Strine and Beth Radick).

For sources with three or more authors, use the first name and surname of the first author followed by “and others” or “and colleagues” (e.g., Mary Strine and others). In subsequent citations, use only the surname of the first author followed by “and others” or “and colleagues” (e.g., Strine and others).

In parenthetical citations, use only the author’s surname. For sources with two authors, use two surnames (e.g., Strine and Radick). For sources with three or more author names, use the first author’s surname followed by “et al.”

First mention: Mary Strine…

Subsequent mention: Strine…

First mention: Mary Strine and Beth Radick…

Subsequent mention: Strine and Radick…

First mention: Mary Strine and colleagues …. or Mary Strine and others

Subsequent occurrences: Strine and colleagues …. or Strine and others

…. (Strine).

….(Strine and Radick).

….(Strine et al.).

The title of the essay is enclosed in double quotation marks and uses title case. The book or collection title is given in italics and uses title case.

Surname, First Name, et al. “Title of the Essay.” Title of the Book , edited by Editor(s) Name, Publisher, Publication Year, page range.

Strine, Mary M., et al. “Research in Interpretation and Performance Studies: Trends, Issues, Priorities.” Speech Communication: Essays to Commemorate the 75th Anniversary of the Speech Communication Association , edited by Gerald M. Phillips and Julia T. Wood, Southern Illinois UP, 1990, pp. 181–204.

MLA Citation Examples

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5.8: Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Style

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  • Page ID 58155

  • Anne Eidenmuller
  • Columbia Basin College

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Learning Objectives

  • Identify the major components of a research paper written using MLA style.
  • Apply general Modern Language Association (MLA) style and formatting conventions in a research paper.

We have addressed American Psychological Association (APA) style, as well as the importance of giving credit where credit is due, so now let’s turn our attention to the formatting and citation style of the Modern Language Association, known as MLA style.

MLA style is often used in the liberal arts and humanities. Like APA style, it provides a uniform framework for consistency across a document in several areas. MLA style provides a format for the manuscript text and parenthetical citations, or in-text citations. It also provides the framework for the works cited area for references at the end of the essay. MLA style emphasizes brevity and clarity. As a student writer, it is to your advantage to be familiar with both major styles, and this section will outline the main points of MLA as well as offer specific examples of commonly used references. Remember that your writing represents you in your absence. The correct use of a citation style demonstrates your attention to detail and ability to produce a scholarly work in an acceptable style, and it can help prevent the appearance or accusations of plagiarism.

If you are taking an English, art history, or music appreciation class, chances are that you will be asked to write an essay in MLA format. One common question goes something like “What’s the difference?” referring to APA and MLA style, and it deserves our consideration. The liberal arts and humanities often reflect works of creativity that come from individual and group effort, but they may adapt, change, or build on previous creative works. The inspiration to create something new, from a song to a music video, may contain elements of previous works. Drawing on your fellow artists and authors is part of the creative process, and so is giving credit where credit is due.

A reader interested in your subject wants not only to read what you wrote but also to be aware of the works that you used to create it. Readers want to examine your sources to see if you know your subject, to see if you missed anything, or if you offer anything new and interesting. Your new or up-to-date sources may offer the reader additional insight on the subject being considered. It also demonstrates that you, as the author, are up-to-date on what is happening in the field or on the subject. Giving credit where it is due enhances your credibility, and the MLA style offers a clear format to use.

Uncredited work that is incorporated into your own writing is considered plagiarism. In the professional world, plagiarism results in loss of credibility and often compensation, including future opportunities. In a classroom setting, plagiarism results in a range of sanctions, from loss of a grade to expulsion from a school or university. In both professional and academic settings, the penalties are severe. MLA offers artists and authors a systematic style of reference, again giving credit where credit is due, to protect MLA users from accusations of plagiarism.

MLA style uses a citation in the body of the essay that links to the works cited page at the end. The in-text citation is offset with parentheses, clearly calling attention to itself for the reader. The reference to the author or title is like a signal to the reader that information was incorporated from a separate source. It also provides the reader with information to then turn to the works cited section of your essay (at the end) where they can find the complete reference. If you follow the MLA style, and indicate your source both in your essay and in the works cited section, you will prevent the possibility of plagiarism. If you follow the MLA guidelines, pay attention to detail, and clearly indicate your sources, then this approach to formatting and citation offers a proven way to demonstrate your respect for other authors and artists.

Five Reasons to Use MLA Style

  • To demonstrate your ability to present a professional, academic essay in the correct style
  • To gain credibility and authenticity for your work
  • To enhance the ability of the reader to locate information discussed in your essay
  • To give credit where credit is due and prevent plagiarism
  • To get a good grade or demonstrate excellence in your writing

Before we transition to specifics, please consider one word of caution: consistency. If you are instructed to use the MLA style and need to indicate a date, you have options. For example, you could use an international or a US style:

  • International style: 18 May 1980 (day/month/year)
  • US style: May 18, 1980 (month/day/year)

If you are going to the US style, be consistent in its use. You’ll find you have the option on page 83 of the MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers , 7th edition. You have many options when writing in English as the language itself has several conventions, or acceptable ways of writing particular parts of speech or information.

You are welcome to look in the MLA Handbook and see there is one preferred style or convention (you will also find the answer at end of this section marked by an asterisk [*]). Now you may say to yourself that you won’t write that term and it may be true, but you will come to a term or word that has more than one way it can be written. In that case, what convention is acceptable in MLA style? This is where the MLA Handbook serves as an invaluable resource. Again, your attention to detail and the professional presentation of your work are aspects of learning to write in an academic setting.

Now let’s transition from a general discussion on the advantages of MLA style to what we are required to do to write a standard academic essay. We will first examine a general “to do” list, then review a few “do not” suggestions, and finally take a tour through a sample of MLA features. Links to sample MLA papers are located at the end of this section.

General MLA List

  • Use standard white paper (8.5 × 11 inches).
  • Double space the essay and quotes.
  • Use Times New Roman 12-point font.
  • Use one-inch margins on all sides
  • Indent paragraphs (five spaces or 1.5 inches).
  • Include consecutive page numbers in the upper-right corner.
  • Use italics to indicate a title, as in Writing for Success .
  • On the first page, place your name, course, date, and instructor’s name in the upper-left corner.
  • On the first page, place the title centered on the page, with no bold or italics and all words capitalized.
  • On all pages, place the header, student’s name + one space + page number, 1.5 inches from the top, aligned on the right.

Depending on your field of study, you may sometimes write research papers in either APA or MLA style. Recognize that each has its advantages and preferred use in fields and disciplines. Learn to write and reference in both styles with proficiency.

Title Block Format

You never get a second chance to make a first impression, and your title block (not a separate title page; just a section at the top of the first page) makes an impression on the reader. If correctly formatted with each element of information in its proper place, form, and format, it says to the reader that you mean business, that you are a professional, and that you take your work seriously, so it should, in turn, be seriously considered. Your title block in MLA style contributes to your credibility. Remember that your writing represents you in your absence, and the title block is the tailored suit or outfit that represents you best. That said, sometimes a separate title page is necessary, but it is best both to know how to properly format a title block or page in MLA style and to ask your instructor if it is included as part of the assignment.

Course number

Title of Paper

Paragraphs and Indentation

Make sure you indent five spaces (from the left margin). You’ll see that the indent offsets the beginning of a new paragraph. We use paragraphs to express single ideas or topics that reinforce our central purpose or thesis statement. Paragraphs include topic sentences, supporting sentences, and conclusion or transitional sentences that link paragraphs together to support the main focus of the essay.

Tables and Illustrations

Place tables and illustrations as close as possible to the text they reinforce or complement. Here’s an example of a table in MLA.

As we can see in Table 1, we have experienced significant growth since 2008.

This example demonstrates that the words that you write and the tables, figures, illustrations, or images that you include should be next to each other in your paper.

Parenthetical Citations

You must cite your sources as you use them. In the same way that a table or figure should be located right next to the sentence that discusses it (see the previous example), parenthetical citations, or citations enclosed in parenthesis that appear in the text, are required. You need to cite all your information. If someone else wrote it, said it, drew it, demonstrated it, or otherwise expressed it, you need to cite it. The exception to this statement is common, widespread knowledge. For example, if you search online for MLA resources, and specifically MLA sample papers, you will find many similar discussions on MLA style. MLA is a style and cannot be copyrighted because it is a style, but the seventh edition of the MLA Handbook can be copyright protected. If you reference a specific page in that handbook, you need to indicate it. If you write about a general MLA style issue that is commonly covered or addressed in multiple sources, you do not. When in doubt, reference the specific resource you used to write your essay.

Your in-text, or parenthetical, citations should do the following:

  • Clearly indicate the specific sources also referenced in the works cited
  • Specifically identify the location of the information that you used
  • Keep the citation clear and concise, always confirming its accuracy

Works Cited Page

After the body of your paper comes the works cited page. It features the reference sources used in your essay. List the sources alphabetically by last name, or list them by title if the author is not known as is often the case of web-based articles. You will find links to examples of the works cited page in several of the sample MLA essays at the end of this section.

As a point of reference and comparison to our APA examples, let’s examine the following three citations and the order of the information needed.

In Chapter 13 “APA and MLA Documentation and Formatting”, Section 13.1 “Formatting a Research Paper”, you created a sample essay in APA style. After reviewing this section and exploring the resources linked at the end of the section (including California State University–Sacramento’s clear example of a paper in MLA format), please convert your paper to MLA style using the formatting and citation guidelines. You may find it helpful to use online applications that quickly, easily, and at no cost convert your citations to MLA format.

Please convert the APA-style citations to MLA style. You may find that online applications can quickly, easily, and at no cost convert your citations to MLA format. There are several websites and applications available free (or as a free trial) that will allow you to input the information and will produce a correct citation in the style of your choice. Consider these two sites:

  • http://www.noodletools.com
  • http://citationmachine.net

Hint: You may need access to the Internet to find any missing information required to correctly cite in MLA style. This demonstrates an important difference between APA and MLA style—the information provided to the reader.

Useful Sources of Examples of MLA Style

  • http://libguides.asu.edu/content.php?pid=122697&sid=1132964
  • http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/747/01
  • http://www.csus.edu/owl/index/mla/mla_format.htm
  • http://www.sunywcc.edu/LIBRARY/research/MLA_APA_08.03.10.pdf
  • http://www.library.cornell.edu/resrch/citmanage/mla
  • http://www.writing.ku.edu/guides

* (a) is the correct answer to the question at the beginning of this section. The MLA Handbook prefers “twentieth century.”

Key Takeaways

  • MLA style is often used in the liberal arts and humanities.
  • MLA style emphasizes brevity and clarity.
  • A reader interested in your subject wants not only to read what you wrote but also to be informed of the works you used to create it.
  • MLA style uses a citation in the body of the essay that refers to the works cited section at the end.
  • If you follow MLA style, and indicate your source both in your essay and in the works cited section, you will prevent the possibility of plagiarism.
  • Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Style. From Successful Writing. Authored by : Anonymous. Located at : http://2012books.lardbucket.org/books/successful-writing/s17-04-using-modern-language-associat.html . License : CC BY-NC-SA: Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike

Examples

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how to properly format an essay mla

MLA format is a widely accepted style for writing and documenting scholarly papers, particularly in the humanities. It provides guidelines for formatting manuscripts , citing sources, and structuring works cited pages, ensuring consistency and clarity. Adhering to MLA format helps writers present their research in a professional and organized manner, facilitating readability and academic integrity.

What is MLA Format?

MLA format, established by the Modern Language Association, is a widely-used style for writing and documenting scholarly papers in the humanities. It features in-text citation , a “Works Cited” page, double-spacing, one-inch margins, and specific guidelines for formatting headings, titles, and quotations to ensure clarity and consistency in academic writing.

MLA Format Examples

  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book . Publisher, Year of Publication.
  • Example: Smith, John. The Art of Writing . Penguin, 2020.
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Journal , vol. number, no. number, Year, pages.
  • Example: Doe, Jane. “Exploring Literature.” Literary Journal , vol. 5, no. 3, 2019, pp. 45-67.
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Web Page.” Title of Website , Publisher, Date of Publication, URL.
  • Example: Brown, Lisa. “Understanding MLA Format.” Writing Resources , Purdue OWL, 15 Mar. 2021, www.owl.purdue.edu/mlaformat .
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Chapter.” Title of Book , edited by Editor’s First Name Last Name, Publisher, Year, pages.
  • Example: Taylor, Robert. “Modern Poetry.” Anthology of Modern Literature , edited by Sarah Green, Norton, 2018, pp. 120-135.
  • Editor’s Last Name, First Name, editor. Title of Book . Publisher, Year.
  • Example : Anderson, Mary, editor. Cultural Studies . Routledge, 2017.
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Magazine , Date of Publication, pages.
  • Example: Clark, Emily. “The Future of Education.” Education Today , 12 June 2021, pp. 22-25.
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Article.” Title of Newspaper , Date of Publication, pages.
  • Example: Adams, Michael. “Tech Innovations in 2022.” The New York Times , 5 Jan. 2022, p. B1.
  • Title of Film . Directed by Director’s First Name Last Name, performance by Lead Actor’s First Name Last Name, Production Company, Year.
  • Example: Inception . Directed by Christopher Nolan, performance by Leonardo DiCaprio, Warner Bros., 2010.
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Video.” Website , uploaded by Uploader’s Name, Date of Upload, URL.
  • Example : Johnson, Mark. “ How to Write in MLA Format.” YouTube , uploaded by Academic Tips, 10 Feb. 2021, www.youtube.com/academic-tips-mla .
  • Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Paper.” Title of Conference , Date, Location.
  • Example: Lee, Anna. “The Impact of Social Media on Education.” International Conference on Education , 23 Apr. 2021, Boston, MA.

When to use MLA Format

MLA format is commonly used in the humanities, especially for writing papers and citing sources in subjects like:

  • Essay , research papers, and articles analyzing novels, poems, plays, and other literary works.
  • Papers exploring cultural phenomena, media studies, and societal impacts on culture.
  • Research involving comparative literature, translations, and linguistic studies.
  • Essays and papers discussing philosophical theories, arguments, and historical texts.
  • Research papers analyzing art movements, specific artworks, and artist biographies.
  • Analyses of plays, playwrights, theatrical performances, and historical context of theater.
  • Humanities-focused historical research papers, particularly those involving textual analysis.
  • Research involving film, television, digital media, and their cultural implications.

MLA format is preferred in these fields for its emphasis on detailed citation and textual analysis, ensuring clarity, consistency, and academic integrity in scholarly writing.

How to set up your paper in MLA Format

Setting up your paper in MLA format is crucial for academic writing, ensuring that your work meets the standards for scholarly communication. Follow these steps to format your paper correctly:

1. General Guidelines

  • Font : Use a readable font like Times New Roman, size 12.
  • Margins : Set all margins to 1 inch on all sides.
  • Line Spacing : Double-space the entire paper, including any notes and the works cited page.
  • Indentation : Indent the first line of each paragraph one-half inch from the left margin. Use the Tab key instead of the space bar.

2. Header and Title

  • Header : Create a header in the upper right-hand corner that includes your last name, followed by a space and the page number. Number all pages consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.).
  • In the upper left-hand corner, list your name, your instructor’s name, the course, and the date. Double-space this information.
  • Center the title. Do not underline, italicize, or place your title in quotation marks. Write the title in Title Case (standard capitalization), not in all capital letters.

3. In-Text Citations

  • When quoting or paraphrasing, include an in-text citation with the author’s last name and the page number from which the quote or paraphrase is taken, like this: (Smith 123).

4. Works Cited Page

  • Title : Center the title “Works Cited” at the top of the page. Do not italicize or underline it.
  • Entries : Begin each entry at the left margin; if an entry runs more than one line, indent the subsequent lines one-half inch from the left margin (hanging indent).
  • Alphabetical Order : List the entries alphabetically by the author’s last name. If no author is given, alphabetize by the title.

Example of the First Page

Jane Doe Professor Smith English 101 20 May 2023 Centered Title in Title Case The first paragraph of your paper begins here, with the first line indented one-half inch. Subsequent paragraphs should also be indented one-half inch from the left margin.

Example of a Works Cited Entry

Works Cited Smith, John. The Great Gatsby . Scribner, 2004.

Formatting Header and Title in MLA

Formatting the header and title correctly is an important step in ensuring your paper adheres to MLA standards. Here’s a detailed guide on how to set up the header and title for your MLA paper:

The header in MLA format is placed in the upper right-hand corner of each page, including the first page. Here are the steps to set it up:

  • Open your document in a word processing program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs.
  • In Microsoft Word: Go to the “Insert” tab and select “Header.” Choose the “Blank” option.
  • In Google Docs: Click on “Insert” and then “Headers & footers,” followed by “Header.”
  • Type your last name followed by a space.
  • In Microsoft Word: While the cursor is still in the header, go to the “Design” tab, click on “Page Number,” and choose “Top of Page” then “Plain Number 3.”
  • In Google Docs: While the cursor is in the header, click on “Insert,” then “Page numbers,” and select the option to have the page numbers in the upper right corner.
  • Set the font and size : Ensure the font is Times New Roman, size 12, matching the rest of your document.

2. Title Page Setup

MLA format does not require a separate title page unless specifically requested by your instructor. Instead, the title is placed on the first page of your paper. Here’s how to format it:

Information Block

  • Position the cursor at the top of the first page.
  • Your full name
  • Your instructor’s name
  • The course name or number
  • The date in the format: Day Month Year (e.g., 20 May 2023)
  • Double-space after the date.
  • Center the title of your paper. The title should be in Title Case, which means you capitalize the major words.
  • Do not use bold, italics, underline, or quotation marks for the title. Write it in plain text.

Example of the First Page Setup

Jane Doe Professor Smith English 101 20 May The Impact of Climate Change on Migration The first paragraph of your paper begins here, with the first line indented one-half inch. Subsequent paragraphs should also be indented one-half inch from the left margin.

Headings and Subheadings in MLA Format

MLA (Modern Language Association) format provides a flexible guideline for structuring your academic paper. While the MLA Handbook (9th edition) does not provide specific rules for headings and subheadings, it encourages consistency and clarity. Here’s a guide on how to create and format headings and subheadings in your MLA-style paper.

General Guidelines

  • Font and Size: Use a readable font like Times New Roman, size 12.
  • Consistency: Ensure that the format and style of headings and subheadings are consistent throughout the paper.
  • No Bold or Italics: Headings should not be bolded or italicized. They should be in plain text, maintaining the same font and size as the rest of the paper.
  • Title Case: Capitalize the first and last words and all principal words in headings and subheadings.

Levels of Headings

MLA does not have specific rules for the number of heading levels. However, using up to five levels of headings is common. Below is a suggested format for organizing your paper with headings and subheadings.

First-Level Heading (H2)

Centered, Title Case

Causes of Climate Change

Second-Level Heading (H3)

Left-aligned, Title Case

Human Activities

Third-Level Heading (H4)

Indented, Title Case, Ends with a Period.

Burning of Fossil Fuels.

Fourth-Level Heading (H5)

Indented, Sentence case, Ends with a period.

Deforestation and land use changes.

Fifth-Level Heading (H6)

Indented, italicized, Sentence case, Ends with a period.

Use of agricultural practices.

Examples of Headings in a Paper

Here’s an example of how to structure a paper using these headings:

Causes of Climate Change Human activities significantly contribute to climate change through various means. Human Activities Human activities that impact climate change include the burning of fossil fuels, deforestation, and certain agricultural practices. Burning of Fossil Fuels. The combustion of coal, oil, and natural gas releases large amounts of CO2 into the atmosphere. Deforestation and land use changes. The removal of trees decreases the planet’s capacity to absorb CO2. Use of agricultural practices. Certain farming practices, like livestock production, increase methane emissions. Natural Factors Natural factors also play a role in climate change, albeit to a lesser extent than human activities. Volcanic Eruptions. Eruptions release particles that can cool the Earth by blocking sunlight. Solar Variations Changes in solar energy affect the Earth’s climate cycles.

Quotations in MLA Format

Quotations are an essential part of academic writing, providing evidence and supporting arguments. MLA (Modern Language Association) format has specific guidelines for incorporating quotations into your text. Here’s a detailed guide on how to format both short and long quotations in MLA style.

1. Short Quotations

Short quotations are defined as fewer than four lines of prose or three lines of verse. These quotations should be incorporated into the text and enclosed in double quotation marks.

  • Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author’s last name followed by the page number in parentheses.
  • Place the period after the parenthetical citation.

According to Smith, “climate change is the greatest challenge facing humanity today” (123).

2. Long Quotations

Long quotations, also known as block quotations, are used for prose that is more than four lines or verse that is more than three lines. These should be formatted as a freestanding block of text and indented one inch from the left margin. Quotation marks are not used.

  • Introduce the block quotation with a signal phrase that ends with a colon.
  • Start the quotation on a new line and indent the entire block one inch from the left margin.
  • Double-space the quotation.
  • Place the parenthetical citation after the period at the end of the quotation.

Smith discusses the impacts of climate change in detail:

Climate change affects all regions around the world. Polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and weather patterns are becoming more extreme. These changes threaten the habitats of countless species, and the economic and social systems of human communities are also at risk. Immediate action is required to mitigate these effects and adapt to the changes that are already underway. (123)

3. Adding or Omitting Words

Adding Words: When adding words for clarity, enclose the added text in square brackets.

Smith notes that “immediate action [by global leaders] is required to mitigate these effects” (123).

Omitting Words: To omit words from a quotation, use an ellipsis (…). Ensure that the omission does not change the meaning of the original text.

Smith argues that “climate change affects all regions…and weather patterns are becoming more extreme” (123).

4. Quoting Poetry

For quoting poetry, maintain the original formatting as much as possible. Use a slash (/) to indicate line breaks within the text.

Short Poetry Quotations:

  • Enclose the quotation in double quotation marks.
  • Use a slash (/) to indicate line breaks.

In Frost’s “The Road Not Taken,” the speaker reflects, “Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, / And sorry I could not travel both” (1-2).

Long Poetry Quotations:

  • Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase ending with a colon.
  • Maintain the original line breaks.

In his poem “The Road Not Taken,” Frost writes:

Two roads diverged in a yellow wood, And sorry I could not travel both And be one traveler, long I stood And looked down one as far as I could To where it bent in the undergrowth; (1-5)

5. Quoting Dialogue

When quoting dialogue from a play or script, each character’s speech begins on a new line, and the character’s name is written in all capital letters followed by a period.

  • Introduce the quotation with a signal phrase.
  • Start the quotation on a new line and indent each line of the characters’ speech one inch from the left margin.
  • Double-space the dialogue.

In Shakespeare’s Macbeth , the witches proclaim:

FIRST WITCH. When shall we three meet again In thunder, lightning, or in rain? SECOND WITCH. When the hurlyburly’s done, When the battle’s lost and won. (1.1.1-4)

Paraphrases in MLA Format

Paraphrasing involves restating someone else’s ideas in your own words. In MLA (Modern Language Association) format, it’s essential to credit the original source even when you paraphrase. Here’s a detailed guide on how to properly format paraphrases in MLA style.

1. General Guidelines for Paraphrasing

  • Restate the original text: Ensure that the paraphrase is in your own words and that it accurately reflects the meaning of the original text.
  • Provide an in-text citation: Include the author’s last name and the page number where the original idea can be found.
  • No quotation marks: Do not use quotation marks around a paraphrase since you are not using the exact words from the source.

2. In-Text Citations for Paraphrases

The in-text citation for a paraphrase is similar to that for a direct quotation. It includes the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses.

Basic Format: (Author’s Last Name Page Number)

Example: According to Smith, climate change poses a significant challenge to humanity, requiring immediate and concerted action from global leaders (123).

3. Incorporating Paraphrases into Your Text

You can introduce a paraphrase in several ways to smoothly integrate it into your writing. Here are some examples:

Using a Signal Phrase

Signal phrases introduce the source of the paraphrase and are typically followed by the paraphrased material and a parenthetical citation.

Example: Smith argues that immediate action is necessary to address the widespread impacts of climate change, which threaten both natural ecosystems and human societies (123).

Integrating the Paraphrase

Integrate the paraphrase directly into your sentence, ensuring it flows naturally with your own writing.

Example: The widespread impacts of climate change, including rising sea levels and more extreme weather patterns, require urgent action to mitigate damage to both ecosystems and human communities (Smith 123).

4. Multiple Authors

When paraphrasing a source with multiple authors, include all authors’ last names or use “et al.” for three or more authors.

Two Authors:

Example: According to Johnson and Smith, sustainable practices are essential for mitigating the effects of climate change (45).

Three or More Authors:

Example: Research indicates that sustainable practices are crucial for mitigating climate change impacts (Johnson et al. 45).

5. No Author

If the source has no author, use a shortened title of the work instead. Place the title in quotation marks if it’s an article or in italics if it’s a book or other standalone work.

Example: Measures to address climate change must be implemented urgently to prevent further environmental degradation (“Climate Action” 12).

6. Multiple Works by the Same Author

If you cite multiple works by the same author, include a shortened version of the title in the citation to differentiate between them.

Example: Smith argues that sustainable practices are necessary for environmental conservation (“Environmental Policies” 56) and that global cooperation is key to effective climate action (“Global Strategies” 78).

7. Citing Indirect Sources

If you need to paraphrase information from a source cited within another source, use “qtd. in” to indicate the original source.

Example: According to Brown, environmental education plays a crucial role in raising awareness about climate change (qtd. in Smith 89).

Example of a Paragraph with Paraphrases

Original Text: “Climate change affects all regions around the world. Polar ice caps are melting, sea levels are rising, and weather patterns are becoming more extreme. These changes threaten the habitats of countless species, and the economic and social systems of human communities are also at risk. Immediate action is required to mitigate these effects and adapt to the changes that are already underway” (Smith 123). Paraphrased Paragraph: Smith notes that climate change has a global impact, causing the melting of polar ice caps, rising sea levels, and more extreme weather events. These environmental changes endanger numerous species’ habitats and pose risks to human economic and social structures. Therefore, Smith emphasizes the need for swift measures to mitigate and adapt to these evolving challenges (123).

Using Abbreviations in MLA Format

Abbreviations can help make your writing more concise and clear. However, it is important to use them correctly and consistently. Here is a guide on how to use abbreviations in MLA (Modern Language Association) format.

  • Introduce Abbreviations: When you first introduce an abbreviation, spell out the full term followed by the abbreviation in parentheses. After this initial introduction, you can use the abbreviation alone.
  • Consistency: Use the abbreviation consistently throughout your paper after introducing it.
  • Periods: Use periods with certain abbreviations (e.g., a.m., p.m., U.S.), but do not use them for acronyms (e.g., NASA, MLA).

Types of Abbreviations

Acronyms and initialisms.

Acronyms are formed from the initial letters of words and pronounced as words (e.g., NASA). Initialisms are formed from the initial letters but pronounced as individual letters (e.g., FBI).

Example: The Modern Language Association (MLA) provides guidelines for formatting academic papers. According to MLA guidelines, authors should use consistent formatting throughout their work.

When citing sources, abbreviate the names of months (except May, June, and July) in the Works Cited page.

Example: Jan., Feb., Mar., Apr., Aug., Sept., Oct., Nov., Dec.

Works Cited Entry Example: Smith, John. “The Effects of Climate Change.” Environmental Studies Journal , vol. 12, no. 4, Aug. 2020, pp. 123-45.

Common Latin Abbreviations

Certain Latin abbreviations are commonly used in academic writing. Here are a few examples:

  • e.g. (exempli gratia): means “for example”
  • i.e. (id est): means “that is”
  • etc. (et cetera): means “and so on”
  • et al. (et alii): means “and others”

Example: There are many theories on climate change (e.g., greenhouse effect, solar variability).

Abbreviating Titles and Terms

Use standard abbreviations for titles and terms when they appear in citations.

  • ed. (edition)
  • rev. ed. (revised edition)
  • vol. (volume)
  • no. (number)

Examples: Doe, Jane, ed. Anthology of Modern Poetry . 3rd ed., Penguin Books, 2019. Brown, Sarah. History of Medieval Europe . Rev. ed., vol. 2, Academic Press, 2018.

Abbreviating Locations in Works Cited

Abbreviate the names of U.S. states and countries in publisher locations.

  • Cambridge, MA

Works Cited Entry Example: Smith, John. The Great Migration . Cambridge UP, 2015.

In-Text Citations with Abbreviations

Use abbreviations in in-text citations as necessary to keep them concise. For example, abbreviate the titles of works that are long or frequently cited within the text.

Example: (Tolkien, LOTR 23)

Abbreviating Corporate Authors

When a corporate author is commonly known by an abbreviation, you can use the abbreviation after introducing it.

Example: The National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) has made significant advancements in space exploration. According to NASA, the Mars rover has sent back valuable data (NASA).

Common MLA Abbreviations

  • ch. (chapter)
  • sec. (section)
  • trans. (translator)
  • UP (University Press)

Example of Proper Abbreviation Usage in a Paragraph

When citing sources, the Modern Language Association (MLA) recommends abbreviating the names of months except for May, June, and July. For instance, an article published in March would be cited as “Mar.” (MLA Handbook 123). Additionally, when referring to organizations like the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), the abbreviation can be used after the first mention. NASA has reported new findings from the Mars rover mission (NASA).

Formatting Numbers in MLA Format

When writing papers in MLA (Modern Language Association) format, it’s important to know the guidelines for formatting numbers. Here’s a concise guide to help you understand when to use numerals and when to spell out numbers.

General Rules

  • Spell out numbers that can be written in one or two words.
  • Examples: one, thirty-six, ninety-nine, one hundred, fifteen hundred
  • Use numerals for numbers that require more than two words.
  • Examples: 101, 1,250, 7,891

Specific Cases

  • Spell out numbers when they begin a sentence.
  • Example: One hundred students attended the lecture.
  • Note: If rewriting the sentence to avoid starting with a number, it is acceptable. Example: There were 100 students who attended the lecture.
  • Use numerals for dates.
  • Example: June 5, 2024
  • Use numerals with a.m. and p.m.
  • Examples: 10:30 a.m., 5:00 p.m.
  • For round numbers, you may spell out the time if clarity is preserved.
  • Example: He arrived at six o’clock in the evening.
  • Use numerals and the percent symbol (%).
  • Example: The survey showed that 75% of participants agreed.
  • Always use numerals.
  • Example: Please refer to page 45 for more information.
  • Use a combination of numerals and words for very large round numbers.
  • Example: 2.5 million, 3 billion
  • Spell out simple fractions and use numerals for more complex fractions.
  • Examples: Two-thirds of the class, 3/8 of an inch
  • Use numerals for decades and spell out centuries.
  • Examples: the 1990s, the twenty-first century

Examples in Context

  • There are fifty-two weeks in a year.
  • The population of the city is approximately 1.2 million.
  • She bought three dozen eggs.
  • On April 15, 2022, the event will take place.
  • The meeting starts at 9:00 a.m.
  • About 40% of the respondents disagreed with the statement.
  • The results are discussed on page 23.
  • He has lived here since the 1980s.
  • The twentieth century saw many technological advances.
  • There are 52 weeks in a year. (Should be spelled out)
  • The population of the city is approximately one million two hundred thousand. (Use numerals)
  • She bought 3 dozen eggs. (Spell out)

Using Lists in MLA Format

Lists can be a useful way to present information clearly and concisely. In MLA (Modern Language Association) format, there are specific guidelines for incorporating lists into your writing. Here’s a guide on how to format both bulleted and numbered lists according to MLA style.

  • Introduce the list with a complete sentence followed by a colon.

Example: There are several reasons to visit the museum:

  • Ensure that each item in the list follows the same grammatical structure.
  • Free admission
  • Guided tours
  • Educational workshops

Bulleted Lists

Bulleted lists are used to present items that do not need to be in a specific order.

  • Introduce the list with a complete sentence.
  • Use a colon at the end of the introductory sentence.
  • Begin each item with a capital letter.
  • Use a period after each item if the items are complete sentences; otherwise, do not use periods.

Example: The museum offers the following activities:

  • Art exhibitions
  • Interactive workshops

Numbered Lists

Numbered lists are used to present items that need to be in a specific order, such as steps in a process.

  • Use periods after each item if the items are complete sentences.

Example: Follow these steps to register for the workshop:

  • Visit the museum’s website.
  • Click on the “Events” tab.
  • Select the desired workshop.
  • Complete the registration form.

In-Text Lists

In-text lists are used within a sentence and are typically introduced with a colon or parentheses.

Comma-Separated Lists:

  • Use commas to separate items in a simple list within a sentence.
  • Example: The museum offers guided tours, art exhibitions, and interactive workshops.

Semicolon-Separated Lists:

  • Use semicolons to separate items in a complex list within a sentence.
  • Example: The museum offers several activities: guided tours for all ages; art exhibitions featuring local artists; and interactive workshops on weekends.

Lists with Complete Sentences

When each item in the list is a complete sentence, use periods at the end of each item.

  • The museum offers free admission every first Sunday of the month.
  • It has a wide range of art exhibitions from contemporary to classical art.
  • Interactive workshops are available for children and adults alike.

Example in Context

Here is an example of how to integrate a list into an MLA-formatted paper:

Text Example:

Visiting the museum can be a rewarding experience for several reasons:

  • Free Admission: The museum offers free admission every first Sunday of the month.
  • Diverse Exhibitions: It features a wide range of art exhibitions, from contemporary to classical art.
  • Interactive Workshops: There are interactive workshops available for both children and adults.

In addition to these activities, the museum also provides guided tours and educational programs, making it an excellent destination for visitors of all ages.

MLA Format vs. APA Format

What is mla format.

MLA format is a style guide for writing and documenting research in the humanities, particularly in English studies, provided by the Modern Language Association.

How do you cite a book in MLA format?

Author’s Last Name, First Name. Title of Book . Publisher, Year of Publication. Example: Smith, John. The Great Gatsby . Scribner, 2004.

How do you format the first page of an MLA paper?

Include your name, instructor’s name, course, and date in the upper left corner. Center the title, and start the text on a new line, double-spaced.

What should be included in an MLA Works Cited page?

List all sources cited in the text, alphabetized by the author’s last name. Include full publication details for each source.

How do you format in-text citations in MLA?

nclude the author’s last name and page number in parentheses after the quote or paraphrase. Example: (Smith 123).

Do I need a title page in MLA format?

No, MLA format typically does not require a separate title page unless specified by the instructor.

How do you cite a website in MLA format?

Author’s Last Name, First Name. “Title of Web Page.” Title of Website , Publisher, Publication Date, URL.

How do you handle multiple authors in an MLA citation?

For two authors, use both last names (Smith and Jones). For three or more, use the first author’s last name followed by “et al.” (Smith et al.).

How are block quotes formatted in MLA?

Indent the entire quote one inch from the left margin, double-space, and omit quotation marks. Place the parenthetical citation after the period.

What font and size should be used in MLA format?

Use a readable font like Times New Roman, size 12, and double-space the entire document.

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MLA Style Manual

Numbers and dates.

Dates in text should have a number rather than an ordinal.

April 6 (not April 6th)

Punctuate common forms of dates as follows:

April 1967 (no comma) April 6, 1967 (comma after day of month; insert comma after year as well in running text) 1968–1972 (en dash) May–June 1967 (en dash) 1965– (en dash for open-ended date) fiscal year 1958/59 (eliminate century in the second year if it is the same) school year 2004/05 (same as fiscal year) association year 2004/05 (same as fiscal year) 1970s (no apostrophe) the ’70s (apostrophe before year)

For months, use the following forms in references in all publications; do not follow with a period.

Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec

In MLANET‘s “Find a Job,” use month/date/year format with numerals.

Use numerals, unless the year is at the beginning of a sentence. When referring to a decade, never use an apostrophe before the “s.”

enumerations

Numerical lists imply rank or temporal order (first 1, then 2, or 1 is more important than 2). Do not number if no such order is intended. In lists that are run together in the text and number more than three, use numbered phrases. Set numbers in parentheses without periods.

(1) etc., (2) etc., (3) etc., and (4) etc. then (a) etc., (b) etc., (c) etc., and (d) etc.

When items are indented without numbers, begin each new entry with a bullet, set flush left. When they are indented with numbers, the list is laid out the same way, but the bullet is replaced with a numeral and period.

1. etc.; 2. etc.; 3. etc.; and 4. etc.

Double-check alphabetical lists for correct order.

fractions and ratios

Hyphenate fractions:

A one-third share is sufficient. She filed one-third of the cards.

Ratios may be given with numerals and a colon:

a 1:2 ratio

mathematical symbols

Close up spaces around mathematical symbols such as equal signs and less than or greater than symbols.

n=243 p <0.05

measurements and dimensions

Spelling out measurements is preferred; when abbreviations are necessary, set them without periods.

20 km 30 ft

Spell out whole numbers. Use numerals with a multiplication symbol (×) in fractions.

three-by-five cards 2½ × 6-inch cards

Use the numeric form.

For currencies other than the US dollar, use the following formats.

$36.50 CAD for Canadian dollars (spell out “Canadian dollars (CAD)” the first time it appears) £37.50 for British pounds €42.75 for euros

other well-known currencies

37.50 Sw. fr. (figure followed by appropriate abbreviation)

lesser-known currencies

95 Haitian gourdes (figure followed by full name of currency)

Use (n=) with the “n” lowercase.

Use a comma in numbers higher than 999, with the exception of page numbers and years. Abbreviate “number” as “no.” when necessary or permitted. Always use the numeric form of numbers with decimal places. For numbers less than one, use a zero preceding the decimal point.

In the Journal of the Medical Library Association (JMLA), formerly the Bulletin of the Medical Library Association , text, spell out ordinal numbers less than 100:

third tenth forty-second 103rd 1,912th

In the text of MLAConnect articles, on MLANET, in monographs, and in other publications, abbreviate ordinals greater than nine. Spell out whole numbers in all publications’ text through ninety-nine:

one through 999,999 one million 101 million

In MLANET “Find a Job” ads, all numbers are represented in numeric form.

Spell out and hyphenate fractions.

If any number in a paragraph requires numerals rather than spelled out numbers, (higher than one hundred, decimal, percentage, money, etc., excepting dates), set all the numbers in numerals.

The library in Johnson City received 124 loan requests during a 1-year period. The library in Smithfield, however, received 19 loan requests, and the library in Morgantown only 12.

Do not begin a sentence with a numeral. Write out the number in full, or recast the sentence.

Provide both numbers (n) and percents where applicable when reporting data.

(n=74, 56%)

If the denominator changes frequently, it is useful to present numbers as n=74/258; 29% unless the denominator is noted in the text.

Of 258 respondents, 74 (29%) indicated...

See also “abbreviations: when to use them” in the Abbreviations section.

percentages

In text, use numerals and “%.” Spell out the numeral and the word only if they begin the sentence. Where the percentage is less than 1%, add a decimal point and a zero.

89% One hundred percent of the students were in attendance. 0.7%

The following are a few common statistical terms; set them as indicated. Text should be used rather than symbols, except for statistics or formulas.

Do not use ditto marks (") for repeated items; supply the numbers. Provide numbers (n), with percentages (where applicable) in the next column in parentheses. Use an em dash to indicate entries that are not supplied or are irrelevant; use a zero to indicate that a particular universe has none of the items in question. Do not use “0%”; that is mathematically impossible. If both real numbers and percentages happen to be zero, give just the real number and no percentage.

In running text, refer to each table by Arabic numeral. Do not use “see”:

Students preferred electronic reserves to print reserves (Table 1).

See also “figures (illustrations)” in the Miscellaneous section.

telephone numbers

Use the following format:

312.419.9094 x743

Spell out the time of day in text for JMLA .

At seven o'clock, the family rose.

If an exact moment is emphasized, use numerals.

At 7:35 a.m., the family rose.

Always use numerals when “a.m.” or “p.m.” are used.

At 7:00 a.m., the family rose.

Set “a.m.” and “p.m.” close, with periods. Use time zones following a comma, lowercase.

The chapter meeting will begin at 9:00 a.m., central time.

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LSAT Argumentative Writing

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LSAT Argumentative Writing SM

A new approach to the Writing section of the LSAT 

Beginning July 30, 2024, LSAT Argumentative Writing will replace the LSAT Writing prompt that has been part of the LSAT since 1982.

This new approach to the writing assessment aims to assess a test taker’s ability to construct a cogent argument based on a variety of evidentiary sources. Test takers will be presented with a debatable issue, along with three or four perspectives that provide additional context for the issue. These perspectives, each of which is conveyed in a few sentences, are representative of a system of beliefs or values. Together, the perspectives illustrate competing ideologies and arguments around a particular issue. The test taker will then draft an argumentative essay in which they take a position on the issue, while addressing some of the arguments and ideas presented by the other perspectives. 

The new argumentative writing task is designed to give test takers a clearer, more authentic writing purpose than the former “decision-based” LSAT Writing prompt, which was more narrowly focused on pure logical reasoning. When test takers have an opportunity to construct an original thesis and defend it based on their own judgment and analytical evaluation, rather than following pre-ordained lines of reasoning, we can better assess the broader and more complex range of decision-making skills that writers engage in.

By adopting this design, we’re not only enabling individuals to have a more authentic voice in their argument, but we are also better positioned to evaluate the writer’s ability to employ various rhetorical techniques, evidentiary strategies, and other important aspects of argumentative writing. 

Given the additional reading load required by the new writing task format, LSAT Argumentative Writing will include a short preparatory period that test takers can use to organize their thoughts using guided prewriting analysis questions and to take notes using the digital notetaking tool provided in the testing environment. These questions are designed to help test takers analyze the various perspectives and generate productive ideas for their essay. Most test takers will have a total of 50 minutes — 15 minutes for prewriting analysis and 35 minutes for essay writing. Test takers with approved accommodations for additional time will have their time allocations adjusted accordingly.

For the 2024-2025 testing cycle, LSAT Argumentative Writing will remain an unscored section of the LSAT and will be administered exclusively in an online proctored, on-demand environment using secure proctoring software that is installed on the test taker’s computer.

Quick Facts about LSAT Writing

Online administration.

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Before You Begin — Top Tips

If your LSAT Argumentative Writing session is flagged for further review, it may delay the release of your LSAT score. Review these tips to avoid having your session flagged.

Required for LSAT Scoring

LSAT Argumentative Writing samples are not scored, but LSAT Argumentative Writing is a required part of the LSAT. Your LSAT score cannot be released to law schools if you do not have a completed and approved LSAT Argumentative Writing sample on file .

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Take a Practice Writing Prompt

Through your free LSAC LawHub account, you have access to an official LSAT Argumentative Writing practice prompt that can help you prepare for test day. This writing prompt is representative of the kind of prompts that are used in the LSAT Argumentative Writing assessment. You can use this prompt to get familiar with both the content and the interface of the test.

You can sign into LawHub with your LSAC username and password.

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Testing Accommodations

Through our deep commitment to disability rights, LSAC will continue to address the needs of all individuals with disabilities who require testing accommodations. We will make every effort to ensure all test takers are able to fully demonstrate their skills when they take the LSAT and LSAT Argumentative Writing.

Learn More about testing accommodations

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Learn How to Verify Your ID on Test Day

When you launch valid, government-issued photo ID . We’ve compiled a list of tips, so you’ll know what to do (and not do!) when it’s time to photograph your ID on exam day. If your LSAT Writing sample is flagged due to ID issues, it could delay the release of your LSAT score.--> LSAT Argumentative Writing, you’ll need to take a photo of your valid, government-issued photo ID. Please ensure that the photo of your ID is clear and recognizable. Images of IDs that are blurry, out of focus, or unrecognizable will not be accepted, and your writing sample will be canceled. Please review the image of your ID on your screen for clarity before capturing the image.

Review ID Requirements

Frequently Asked Questions

How do i register for lsat argumentative writing.

If you’re taking the LSAT for the first time, one administration of LSAT Argumentative Writing is included in your LSAT registration. By registering for the LSAT, you will be automatically eligible to complete the writing section, which is open eight (8) days before you take the multiple-choice portion of the LSAT. You can access LSAT Argumentative Writing from your LSAC JD Account. 

NOTE:  The LSAT registration fee includes both the multiple-choice portion of the LSAT and LSAT Argumentative Writing. There are no additional fees associated with LSAT Argumentative Writing. 

When can I take LSAT Argumentative Writing?

Candidates are eligible to take LSAT Argumentative Writing starting eight (8) days prior to their LSAT administration. For your LSAT to be considered complete, you will need to take the LSAT Argumentative Writing section of the test if you do not already have a writing sample on file from a previous LSAT administration. Most law schools require a writing sample as an integral part of their admission decision, and therefore, you should complete a writing sample to meet schools’ application deadlines. Your writing sample will be shared with the law schools to which you have applied once it’s approved and your score is released. Candidates will be required to have a completed writing sample in their file to see their test score or have their score released to law schools. 

How long does it take to complete the LSAT Argumentative Writing task?

Most test takers will have a total of 50 minutes — 15 minutes for prewriting analysis and 35 minutes for essay writing. Test takers with approved accommodations for additional time will have their time allocations adjusted accordingly. Test takers can use the 15-minute prewriting analysis to organize their thoughts using guided prewriting analysis questions and to take notes using the digital notetaking tool provided in the testing environment. These questions are designed to help test takers analyze the various perspectives and generate productive ideas for their essay. All test takers will have the option to move past the prewriting analysis after 5 minutes of time have expired, or they may choose to use their full time allocated.

By when do I have to complete LSAT Argumentative Writing?

If you do not have a writing sample on file, we encourage you to complete LSAT Argumentative Writing as soon as you can. LSAT Argumentative Writing opens eight (8) days prior to every test administration. Candidates must have a complete writing sample in their file in order to see their score or have their score released to schools. Most law schools require a writing sample as an integral part of their admission decision, and therefore, you should complete the writing sample immediately to meet schools’ application deadlines. 

In case you are not applying in the current cycle, please note you have a maximum of one (1) year to complete LSAT Argumentative Writing. For questions, please contact LSAC’s Candidate Services team at  [email protected]  or  1.800.336.3982 .

What can I use to write notes since scratch paper is prohibited?

Unlike the multiple-choice portion of the LSAT, physical scratch paper and writing utensils are not permitted during the standard administration of LSAT Argumentative Writing. Instead, the LSAT Argumentative Writing interface includes a built-in, digital “scratch paper” section where you’ll be able to type notes, instead of writing them on a physical piece of scratch paper. 

How is test security managed for LSAT Writing?

The secure proctoring platform uses input from the webcam, microphone, and screen of the candidate’s own computer to ensure that the writing sample is the candidate’s own work, and that the candidate is not receiving any inappropriate assistance. Prior to the exam, candidates will complete a video check-in process. As part of the check-in process, candidates will be required to clearly display a physical, valid government-issued photo ID issued by the United States of America, U.S. Territories, or Canada or an international passport for the camera to capture. This image must not be blurry or out of focus. Candidates will also be required to complete a full 360-degree scan of their room and their workspace using their webcam. The room scan must be completed in order to ensure there are no other people or prohibited items in the testing environment. Candidates who require additional items in their workspace due to a disability may seek appropriate accommodations through the standard procedures for  requesting testing accommodations .    

Audio and video from every testing session will be reviewed by trained proctors. 

Please review the  Test and Test-Taker Security FAQs  for more information. 

Do I need to take LSAT Argumentative Writing if I’ve already completed LSAT Writing?

If you previously took LSAT Writing during the current reportable score period (i.e., as early as June 2018), your previous writing sample is still valid, and you do not need to complete LSAT Argumentative Writing. However, if you register to retake the LSAT during the 2024-2025 testing year and would like to complete LSAT Argumentative Writing, you can contact LSAC’s Candidate Relations team at [email protected] or 1.800.336.3982 .

I took the LSAT before August 2024 but never completed LSAT Writing. Can I complete LSAT Argumentative Writing to get my LSAT score?

Yes. LSAT Writing will be available through July 29, 2024. Starting July 30, 2024, LSAT Argumentative Writing will be available to all test takers who still need to complete a writing sample, even if they took the multiple-choice portion of the LSAT during the 2023-2024 testing year.

When will sample prompts for the new LSAT Argumentative Writing be available in LawHub?

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The MLA Handbook highlights principles over prescriptive practices. Essentially, a writer will need to take note of primary elements in every source, such as author, title, etc. and then assort them in a general format. Thus, by using this methodology, a writer will be able to cite any source regardless of whether it’s included in this list.

However, this guide will highlight a few concerns when citing digital sources in MLA style.

Best Practices for Managing Online Sources

Because online information can change or disappear, it is always a good idea to keep personal copies of important electronic information whenever possible. Downloading or even printing key documents ensures you have a stable backup. You can also use the Bookmark function in your web browser in order to build an easy-to-access reference for all of your project's sources (though this will not help you if the information is changed or deleted).

It is also wise to keep a record of when you first consult with each online source. MLA uses the phrase, “Accessed” to denote which date you accessed the web page when available or necessary. It is not required to do so, but it is encouraged (especially when there is no copyright date listed on a website).

Important Note on the Use of URLs in MLA

Include a URL or web address to help readers locate your sources. Because web addresses are not static (i.e., they change often) and because documents sometimes appear in multiple places on the web (e.g., on multiple databases), MLA encourages the use of citing containers such as Youtube, JSTOR, Spotify, or Netflix in order to easily access and verify sources. However, MLA only requires the www. address, so eliminate all https:// when citing URLs.

Many scholarly journal articles found in databases include a DOI (digital object identifier). If a DOI is available, cite the DOI number instead of the URL.

Online newspapers and magazines sometimes include a “permalink,” which is a shortened, stable version of a URL. Look for a “share” or “cite this” button to see if a source includes a permalink. If you can find a permalink, use that instead of a URL.

Abbreviations Commonly Used with Electronic Sources

If page numbers are not available, use par. or pars. to denote paragraph numbers. Use these in place of the p. or pp. abbreviation. Par. would be used for a single paragraph, while pars. would be used for a span of two or more paragraphs.

Basic Style for Citations of Electronic Sources (Including Online Databases)

Here are some common features you should try to find before citing electronic sources in MLA style. Not every web page will provide all of the following information. However, collect as much of the following information as possible:

  • Author and/or editor names (if available); last names first.
  • "Article name in quotation marks."
  • Title of the website, project, or book in italics.
  • Any version numbers available, including editions (ed.), revisions, posting dates, volumes (vol.), or issue numbers (no.).
  • Publisher information, including the publisher name and publishing date.
  • Take note of any page numbers (p. or pp.) or paragraph numbers (par. or pars.).
  • DOI (if available, precede it with "https://doi.org/"), otherwise a URL (without the https://) or permalink.
  • Date you accessed the material (Date Accessed). While not required, saving this information it is highly recommended, especially when dealing with pages that change frequently or do not have a visible copyright date.

Use the following format:

Author. "Title." Title of container (self contained if book) , Other contributors (translators or editors), Version (edition), Number (vol. and/or no.), Publisher, Publication Date, Location (pages, paragraphs and/or URL, DOI or permalink). 2 nd container’s title , Other contributors, Version, Number, Publisher, Publication date, Location, Date of Access (if applicable).

Citing an Entire Web Site

When citing an entire website, follow the same format as listed above, but include a compiler name if no single author is available.

Author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site. Version number (if available), Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available), DOI (preferred), otherwise include a URL or permalink. Date of access (if applicable).

Editor, author, or compiler name (if available). Name of Site . Version number, Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), date of resource creation (if available), URL, DOI or permalink. Date of access (if applicable).

The Purdue OWL Family of Sites . The Writing Lab and OWL at Purdue and Purdue U, 2008, owl.english.purdue.edu/owl. Accessed 23 Apr. 2008.

Felluga, Dino. Guide to Literary and Critical Theory . Purdue U, 28 Nov. 2003, www.cla.purdue.edu/english/theory/. Accessed 10 May 2006.

Course or Department Websites

Give the instructor name. Then list the title of the course (or the school catalog designation for the course) in italics. Give appropriate department and school names as well, following the course title.

Felluga, Dino. Survey of the Literature of England . Purdue U, Aug. 2006, web.ics.purdue.edu/~felluga/241/241/Home.html. Accessed 31 May 2007.

English Department . Purdue U, 20 Apr. 2009, www.cla.purdue.edu/english/. Accessed 31 May 2015.

A Page on a Web Site

For an individual page on a Web site, list the author or alias if known, followed by an indication of the specific page or article being referenced. Usually, the title of the page or article appears in a header at the top of the page. Follow this with the information covered above for entire Web sites. If the publisher is the same as the website name, only list it once.

Lundman, Susan. “How to Make Vegetarian Chili.”  eHow , www.ehow.com/how_10727_make-vegetarian-chili.html. Accessed 6 July 2015.

“ Athlete's Foot - Topic Overview. ”   WebMD , 25 Sept. 2014, www.webmd.com/skin-problems-and-treatments/tc/athletes-foot-topic-overview.

Citations for e-books closely resemble those for physical books. Simply indicate that the book in question is an e-book by putting the term "e-book" in the "version" slot of the MLA template (i.e., after the author, the title of the source, the title of the container, and the names of any other contributors).

Silva, Paul J.  How to Write a Lot: A Practical Guide to Productive Academic Writing. E-book, American Psychological Association, 2007.

If the e-book is formatted for a specific reader device or service, you can indicate this by treating this information the same way you would treat a physical book's edition number. Often, this will mean replacing "e-book" with "[App/Service] ed."

Machiavelli, Niccolo.  The Prince , translated by W. K. Marriott, Kindle ed., Library of Alexandria, 2018.

Note:  The MLA considers the term "e-book" to refer to publications formatted specifically for reading with an e-book reader device (e.g., a Kindle) or a corresponding web application. These e-books will not have URLs or DOIs. If you are citing book content from an ordinary webpage with a URL, use the "A Page on a Web Site" format above.

An Image (Including a Painting, Sculpture, or Photograph)

Provide the artist's name, the work of art italicized, the date of creation, the institution and city where the work is housed. Follow this initial entry with the name of the Website in italics, and the date of access.

Goya, Francisco. The Family of Charles IV . 1800. Museo Nacional del Prado, Madrid. Museo Nacional del Prado , www.museodelprado.es/en/the-collection/art-work/the-family-of-carlos-iv/f47898fc-aa1c-48f6-a779-71759e417e74. Accessed 22 May 2006.

Klee, Paul. Twittering Machine . 1922. Museum of Modern Art, New York. The Artchive , www.artchive.com/artchive/K/klee/twittering_machine.jpg.html. Accessed May 2006.

If the work cited is available on the web only, then provide the name of the artist, the title of the work, and then follow the citation format for a website. If the work is posted via a username, use that username for the author.

Adams, Clifton R. “People Relax Beside a Swimming Pool at a Country Estate Near Phoenix, Arizona, 1928.” Found, National Geographic Creative, 2 June 2016, natgeofound.tumblr.com/.

An Article in a Web Magazine

Provide the author name, article name in quotation marks, title of the web magazine in italics, publisher name, publication date, URL, and the date of access.

Bernstein, Mark. “ 10 Tips on Writing the Living Web. ”   A List Apart: For People Who Make Websites , 16 Aug. 2002, alistapart.com/article/writeliving. Accessed 4 May 2009.

An Article in an Online Scholarly Journal

For all online scholarly journals, provide the author(s) name(s), the name of the article in quotation marks, the title of the publication in italics, all volume and issue numbers, and the year of publication. Include a DOI if available, otherwise provide a URL or permalink to help readers locate the source.

Article in an Online-only Scholarly Journal

MLA requires a page range for articles that appear in Scholarly Journals. If the journal you are citing appears exclusively in an online format (i.e. there is no corresponding print publication) that does not make use of page numbers, indicate the URL or other location information.

Dolby, Nadine. “Research in Youth Culture and Policy: Current Conditions and Future Directions.” Social Work and Society: The International Online-Only Journal, vol. 6, no. 2, 2008, www.socwork.net/sws/article/view/60/362. Accessed 20 May 2009.

Article in an Online Scholarly Journal That Also Appears in Print

Cite articles in online scholarly journals that also appear in print as you would a scholarly journal in print, including the page range of the article . Provide the URL and the date of access.

Wheelis, Mark. “ Investigating Disease Outbreaks Under a Protocol to the Biological and Toxin Weapons Convention. ”   Emerging Infectious Diseases , vol. 6, no. 6, 2000, pp. 595-600, wwwnc.cdc.gov/eid/article/6/6/00-0607_article. Accessed 8 Feb. 2009.

An Article from an Online Database (or Other Electronic Subscription Service)

Cite online databases (e.g. LexisNexis, ProQuest, JSTOR, ScienceDirect) and other subscription services as containers. Thus, provide the title of the database italicized before the DOI or URL. If a DOI is not provided, use the URL instead. Provide the date of access if you wish.

Alonso, Alvaro, and Julio A. Camargo. “ Toxicity of Nitrite to Three Species of Freshwater Invertebrates. ”   Environmental Toxicology, vol. 21, no. 1, 3 Feb. 2006, pp. 90-94. Wiley Online Library , https://doi.org/10.1002/tox.20155. Accessed 26 May 2009.

Langhamer, Claire. “Love and Courtship in Mid-Twentieth-Century England.” Historical Journal, vol. 50, no. 1, 2007, pp. 173-96. ProQuest , https://doi.org/10.1017/S0018246X06005966. Accessed 27 May 2009.

E-mail (including E-mail Interviews)

Give the author of the message, followed by the subject line in quotation marks. State to whom the message was sent with the phrase, “Received by” and the recipient’s name. Include the date the message was sent. Use standard capitalization.

Kunka, Andrew. “ Re: Modernist Literature. ”  Received by John Watts, 15 Nov. 2000.

Neyhart, David. “ Re: Online Tutoring. ” Received by Joe Barbato, 1 Dec. 2016.

A Listserv, Discussion Group, or Blog Posting

Cite web postings as you would a standard web entry. Provide the author of the work, the title of the posting in quotation marks, the web site name in italics, the publisher, and the posting date. Follow with the date of access. Include screen names as author names when author name is not known. If both names are known, place the author’s name in brackets.

Author or compiler name (if available). “Posting Title.” Name of Site , Version number (if available), Name of institution/organization affiliated with the site (sponsor or publisher), URL. Date of access.

Salmar1515 [Sal Hernandez]. “Re: Best Strategy: Fenced Pastures vs. Max Number of Rooms?” BoardGameGeek , 29 Sept. 2008, boardgamegeek.com/thread/343929/best-strategy-fenced-pastures-vs-max-number-rooms. Accessed 5 Apr. 2009.

Begin with the user's Twitter handle in place of the author’s name. Next, place the tweet in its entirety in quotations, inserting a period after the tweet within the quotations. Include the date and time of posting, using the reader's time zone; separate the date and time with a comma and end with a period. Include the date accessed if you deem necessary.

@tombrokaw. “ SC demonstrated why all the debates are the engines of this campaign. ”   Twitter, 22 Jan. 2012, 3:06 a.m., twitter.com/tombrokaw/status/160996868971704320.

@PurdueWLab. “ Spring break is around the corner, and all our locations will be open next week. ”   Twitter , 5 Mar. 2012, 12:58 p.m., twitter.com/PurdueWLab/status/176728308736737282.

A YouTube Video

Video and audio sources need to be documented using the same basic guidelines for citing print sources in MLA style. Include as much descriptive information as necessary to help readers understand the type and nature of the source you are citing. If the author’s name is the same as the uploader, only cite the author once. If the author is different from the uploader, cite the author’s name before the title.

McGonigal, Jane. “Gaming and Productivity.” YouTube , uploaded by Big Think, 3 July 2012, www.youtube.com/watch?v=mkdzy9bWW3E.

“8 Hot Dog Gadgets put to the Test.” YouTube, uploaded by Crazy Russian Hacker, 6 June 2016, www.youtube.com/watch?v=WBlpjSEtELs.

A Comment on a Website or Article

List the username as the author. Use the phrase, Comment on, before the title. Use quotation marks around the article title. Name the publisher, date, time (listed on near the comment), and the URL.

Not Omniscient Enough. Comment on “ Flight Attendant Tells Passenger to ‘Shut Up’ After Argument Over Pasta. ”  ABC News, 9 Jun 2016, 4:00 p.m., abcnews.go.com/US/flight-attendant-tells-passenger-shut-argument-pasta/story?id=39704050.

IMAGES

  1. MLA Format: Everything You Need to Know Here

    how to properly format an essay mla

  2. 38 Free MLA Format Templates (+MLA Essay Format) ᐅ TemplateLab

    how to properly format an essay mla

  3. How do I set up a paper with MLA formatting?

    how to properly format an essay mla

  4. College Essay Format with Style Guide and Tips

    how to properly format an essay mla

  5. How to Format a Paper in MLA 8: A Visual Guide

    how to properly format an essay mla

  6. Mr. JB's Literature Class: Proper MLA Format

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VIDEO

  1. MLA Formatting Guide

  2. Format your DBQ

  3. Reading, Writing & Education : How to Write a College Essay (MLA, APA, Chicago Styles)

  4. Formatting Your MLA Essay (Docs)

  5. MLA Citations

  6. First Page MLA Format

COMMENTS

  1. MLA Format

    Cite your MLA source. Start by applying these MLA format guidelines to your document: Use an easily readable font like 12 pt Times New Roman. Set 1 inch page margins. Use double line spacing. Include a ½" indent for new paragraphs. Include a four-line MLA heading on the first page. Center the paper's title.

  2. General Format

    In the case of a group project, list all names of the contributors, giving each name its own line in the header, followed by the remaining MLA header requirements as described below. Format the remainder of the page as requested by the instructor. In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, list your name, your instructor's name, the ...

  3. MLA Formatting and Style Guide

    MLA (Modern Language Association) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources within the liberal arts and humanities. This resource, updated to reflect the MLA Handbook (9th ed.), offers examples for the general format of MLA research papers, in-text citations, endnotes/footnotes, and the Works Cited page.

  4. MLA 9 Formatting: Step-By-Step Guide + Free Template

    Here's how you can set your first page up for MLA 9th edition. On the first line, write your full name (flush left) On a new line, write your professor or instructor's full name. On a new line, write the course code and course name. On a new line, write the full date spelt out (e.g., 15 June 2023)

  5. MLA Formatting and Style Guide

    MLA Formatting and Style Guide Overview of how to create MLA in-text citations and reference lists In-Text Citations ... General guidelines for referring to the works of others in your essay Works Cited Page. Resources on writing an MLA style works cited page, including citation formats. Basic Format ...

  6. Using MLA Format

    Get started with MLA style. Learn how to document sources, set up your paper, and improve your teaching and writing. Document Sources Works Cited Quick Guide Learn how to use the MLA format template. Digital Citation Tool Build citations with our interactive template. In-Text Citations Get help with in-text citations. Endnotes and Footnotes Read our …

  7. PDF Formatting a Research Paper

    Do not use a period after your title or after any heading in the paper (e.g., Works Cited). Begin your text on a new, double-spaced line after the title, indenting the first line of the paragraph half an inch from the left margin. Fig. 1. The top of the first page of a research paper.

  8. MLA Format: Everything You Need to Know Here

    Formatting the Header in MLA. To create a header for your first page, follow these steps: Begin one inch from the top of the first page and flush with the left margin. Type your name, your instructor's name, the course name and number, and the date on separate lines, using double spaces between each.

  9. Sample Essays: Writing with MLA Style

    Congratulations to the students whose essays were selected for the 2023 edition of Writing with MLA Style! Essays were selected as examples of excellent student writing that use MLA style for citing sources. Essays have been lightly edited. If your institution subscribes to MLA Handbook Plus, you can access annotated versions of the essays selected …

  10. Writing an Essay in MLA Format

    MLA is the preferred style when writing an essay in high school and most college settings. As with other writing styles, there are specific characteristics and items an MLA-format paper needs to include to fit the bill of the style. Every MLA-format essay must include the following: One-inch margins. Double-spaced text.

  11. How to Format an Essay: MLA, APA, & Chicago Styles

    If your instructor lets you pick the format of your essay, opt for the style that matches your course or degree best: MLA is best for English and humanities; APA is typically for education, psychology, and sciences; Chicago Style is common for business, history, and fine arts. 2. Set your margins to 1 inch (2.5 cm) for all style guides.

  12. How to Cite an Essay in MLA

    Create manual citation. The guidelines for citing an essay in MLA format are similar to those for citing a chapter in a book. Include the author of the essay, the title of the essay, the name of the collection if the essay belongs to one, the editor of the collection or other contributors, the publication information, and the page number (s).

  13. 5.8: Using Modern Language Association (MLA) Style

    MLA style is often used in the liberal arts and humanities. Like APA style, it provides a uniform framework for consistency across a document in several areas. MLA style provides a format for the manuscript text and parenthetical citations, or in-text citations. It also provides the framework for the works cited area for references at the end ...

  14. MLA Format

    1. Header. The header in MLA format is placed in the upper right-hand corner of each page, including the first page. Here are the steps to set it up: Open your document in a word processing program like Microsoft Word or Google Docs. Insert the header : In Microsoft Word: Go to the "Insert" tab and select "Header.".

  15. MLA In-Text Citations: The Basics

    In-text citations: Author-page style. MLA format follows the author-page method of in-text citation. This means that the author's last name and the page number (s) from which the quotation or paraphrase is taken must appear in the text, and a complete reference should appear on your Works Cited page. The author's name may appear either in the ...

  16. MLA: Citing Within Your Paper

    An in-text citation can be included in one of two ways as shown below: 1. Put all the citation information at the end of the sentence: 2. Include author name as part of the sentence (if author name unavailable, include title of work): Each source cited in-text must also be listed on your Works Cited page. RefWorks includes a citation builder ...

  17. MLA Title Page

    MLA title page format. To create an MLA format title page, list the following on separate lines, left-aligned at the top of the page: Then leave a few blank lines and list the title of the paper, centered and in title case, halfway down the page. All text should be double-spaced and in the same font as the rest of the paper.

  18. MLA : Publications : MLA Style Manual: Numbers and Dates

    dates. Dates in text should have a number rather than an ordinal. For months, use the following forms in references in all publications; do not follow with a period. In MLANET's "Find a Job," use month/date/year format with numerals. Use numerals, unless the year is at the beginning of a sentence. When referring to a decade, never use an ...

  19. MLA Formatting Quotations

    Start the quotation on a new line, with the entire quote indented 1/2 inch from the left margin while maintaining double-spacing. Your parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark. When quoting verse, maintain original line breaks. (You should maintain double-spacing throughout your essay.)

  20. Citation

    Concept. A bibliographic citation is a reference to a book, article, web page, or other published item.Citations should supply sufficient detail to identify the item uniquely. Different citation systems and styles are used in scientific citation, legal citation, prior art, the arts, and the humanities.Regarding the use of citations in the scientific literature, some scholars also put forward ...

  21. LSAT Argumentative Writing

    LSAT Argumentative Writing opens eight (8) days prior to every test administration. Candidates must have a complete writing sample in their file in order to see their score or have their score released to schools. Most law schools require a writing sample as an integral part of their admission decision, and therefore, you should complete the ...

  22. MLA Formatting Lists

    Do not introduce the list with a colon. Simply begin the sentence as you normally would and then format each item onto a separate line. End each item with a semicolon, closing the second-to-last item with a semicolon, followed by the word "and" or the word "or". End the final item with the closing punctuation of the sentence.

  23. MLA In-text Citations

    Revised on March 5, 2024. An MLA in-text citation provides the author's last name and a page number in parentheses. If a source has two authors, name both. If a source has more than two authors, name only the first author, followed by " et al. ". If the part you're citing spans multiple pages, include the full page range.

  24. MLA Works Cited: Electronic Sources (Web Publications)

    Note: The MLA considers the term "e-book" to refer to publications formatted specifically for reading with an e-book reader device (e.g., a Kindle) or a corresponding web application.These e-books will not have URLs or DOIs. If you are citing book content from an ordinary webpage with a URL, use the "A Page on a Web Site" format above.