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Formatting your essays in MLA: An easy guide 

In the academic world, it’s not enough to create a perfect essay that matches all the demands of the professor. To earn an excellent mark, you also have to follow the format, and MLA is standard for almost any assignment in humanities or arts. It’s relatively simple and straightforward too, so it shouldn’t be hard to write using this style if you’ve got an easy-to-follow guide. However, it’s important to understand that everyone can get confused by academic requirements at first, just because that’s something we don’t usually interact with. That’s why generating a quality paper is also about being ready to try multiple times and be patient. Knowing this, let’s see what MLA citation style is all about.

Title Page, Headers, and Text Formatting

So, you open a blank document on your computer and ask yourself where you should begin. One of the best choices is to fill out the headers and write all the necessary information about yourself at the top of the first page. Here are the basic steps.

  • Marking the pages. All the headers, including the one on the title page, must have page numbers in the right upper corner and your last name written right next to them, on the right side. This step is essential since the absence of such details isn’t cheap, and students pay with their points. But if you treat the teacher as a customer and do everything they ask, they’ll always enjoy your essays.
  • Giving detailed information. Next, you choose the left align with no indents and write your name, instructor’s name, course, and date in English. Each of these four categories begins on the new line, and every MLA expert will confirm there’ll be four of them in total. That’s it for the formalities. As you can see, this citation style doesn’t let you buy time dealing with details, but it allows you to dedicate maximum attention to creating custom-written works.
  • Starting the text. Your MLA papers should all have centered (not bold!) titles and a 0.50 indentation for each new paragraph, with 1-inch margins on all sides. It’s recommended to use Times New Roman size 12, with 1.5 spacing. Level 1 headings should be bold, and level two needs italics, left-justified in both cases. You’ll need self-discipline to get all of this right, but that quality is exactly what so many prestigious companies are looking for these days. That’s why we can safely state that citation formats will help you find a nice job if you follow them rigorously.

Referencing and Citing

For many students, it’s the most difficult part. You start with titling the last page of the paper “Work or Works Cited,” depending on how many there are, and make a 5-points hanging indent for each first line there. That’s the easiest part of creating an MLA bibliography from scratch. You’re most likely to cite a website, a journal article, or a book. Let’s see how it’s done.

  • Fictitious book “Lucky Students Sleep on Weekends” by Brian Grumpy. The citation will be Grumpy, Brian. Lucky Students Sleep On Weekends. 1st ed., Truthful Books, 2021. “Truthful Books” is a made-up publisher, and an in-text for this or any other type of work will include the writer’s name and a page number, as in (Grumpy 11). Note that there’s no comma there!
  • An unreal journal article written by 2 authors will look like this. Stressless, Adam, and Angelica Smiley. “How Many Papers You Can Write Overnight”. Procrastination Journal, vol 1, no. 2, 2021, pp. 3-15., doi:(DOI number). Accessed 15 Nov 2021. Note that all the sources come in alphabetical order, and your in-text will be (Stressless, and Smiley 4), with a comma dividing authors.
  • A made-up website is even simpler. Here’s an example. Grateful, Anna. “How To Be Kind At 6 A.M.”. Politeness School, 2021. Accessed 15 Nov 2021. You can see that the website name is italicized, and the rest is self-explanatory. You have to include the information you found using Google like this for your work to stay original. 

If all of this is still too hard for you, don’t be ashamed to ask your classmates or professors for assistance! Alternatively, you can use trustworthy websites. For example, Custom Writings is a reliable essay writing service that provides learners from the UK, the USA, and other countries with great examples to follow and learn from.

The Details Many Writers Miss

There are tricks to every formatting style, and MLA isn’t an exception. Even a professional scientist who dedicated their entire life to research working for the greatest company possible might make disappointing mistakes. Here are some of them. 

  • Spaces between paragraphs. MS Word can make them automatically, so double-check the final version or ask someone who’s never seen that text for help. The people who didn’t write it will notice irregularities much better. 
  • “Works cited” instead of “work cited.” When you only use one source, this mistake can happen easily. Review your work before submission to keep it error-free.
  • Inconsistent section headings. Whether you’re describing the ways to market products and services or trying to create a top essay about Shakespeare’s work, you should choose either numbered or leveled headings and stick to your decision.
  • In-texts after indirect quotes. There are two ways to cite paraphrased data, with plenty of examples online. The difference is whether you mention the author or not. Let’s look at fictitious examples.

It might appear impossible to retain politeness at six in the morning, but optimism helps service workers, white collars, and students to do it (Grateful 2). 

Adam Stressless and Angelica Smiley found that writing film reviews at night is counterproductive (6).

As you can see, mentioning the authors enables you to limit the in-text to page number alone. Paraphrasing is also essential to show that you really understand what you’ve read, so it’s better to practice it.

Bottom Line

Although this guide only covers the basics, it contains all the necessary information to get you started when creating a personalized research text. The final recommendation might be to treat citation style as an addition to your essay rather than a part of it. After all, the format is only about how your text looks, and using it doesn’t have to affect your academic writing style. Besides, you can always edit the document to conform with MLA after you’ve done everything else your professor asked for. The most important thing you should do going for an A is to pay attention to all the details and take notes to remember authors and page numbers for all your quotes. Hopefully, these tips will make your college or university journey more pleasant.


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About the author: Access Publishing

Scott Brennan is the publisher of this newspaper and founder of Access Publishing. Connect with him on Paso Robles Daily News on Google, Twitter, LinkedIn, or follow his blog.