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Essay Help: A Quick Guide on How to Write in MLA Format?

by Lisa A. Yeager

“Writing is easy. All you do is sit down at the typewriter and bleed.” This an apt quote. I would love to have come up with it, but I have to cite it to the great Ernest Hemingway.

You see, proper citation is a critical aspect of writing essays. In college, essays will become a major part of your curriculum. And while the content may require some “bleeding” at the keys, the MLA formatting is easy.

Are you wondering how to write in MLA? What is MLA? Why does citation matter?

If so, keep reading. This guide will discuss citations and show you how to write in MLA.

What is MLA Formatting

MLA format is a uniform style guide that keeps essays in format and citations sourceable. The format gives readers the ability to navigate your writing for the sources you used in your essay.

MLA is used for essays about liberal arts, literary topics, and English studies. MLA will be a common requirement in many of your courses. So, it is helpful to become familiar with it.

Below we will examine the formating for an MLA essay.

Body of Text

Here’s how to write an essay in MLA format. It begins with some simple housekeeping. This list contains the self-explanatory yet unbreakable formatting rules of MLA:

  • Double-spaced text
  • 12pt font
  • 1” margins- all sides
  • Five space paragraph indentation
  • Header containing page numbers

The beauty of MLA is it is an iron-clad format. Your instructors won’t change it from course to course. Always rely on these basic rules. MLA is a formula. Once you understand the components, your essays will improve.

In-Text Citations

In the text, you must use a citation any time you have a quotation or a paraphrase from someone else. Failure to do so drifts into plagiarism territory. Here are two examples of the same in-text citation:

“The more irregular the service, the more irregular the life” (Hemingway 8).

Hemingway understood “the more irregular the service, the more irregular the life” (8).

In the first example, the author is not mentioned before the text. As such, the name must appear in the citation followed by the page number.

In the second, Hemingway is introduced before the quote. You only need the page number in this instance.

In both cases, the punctuation comes after the citation. The title and date of the book are not necessary for the text. This information appears on the Work Cited page.

Work Cited

If the reader wants the discover the details of your in-text citations, they will visit your Works Cited page. This is a list of all the sources you used in your essay. This is a correct citation of the in-text quote above.

Hemingway, Ernest. For Whom the Bell Tolls. Simon & Schuster, 1940.

The format is as follows: Author name (last, first). Title of work (italicized). Publisher, Year.

Every element from order to punctuation is important to cite correctly. Any citation nuances can be seen in an MLA bibliography guide.

Writing in MLA has a learning curve, but once you understand the formatting, it makes sense.

How to Write in MLA? Follow the Formula

Are you still worried about how to write in MLA? Don’t be. This is a quick guide to MLA format. Use this as a reference for the citation formula. Follow the formula, and you can stop worrying about citations and focus on the content.

For more writing references, keep an eye on the blog.

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