Modern Language Association (MLA) format guide

The MLA, which stands for Modern Language Association was originated in 1985. This style is used in North America and many other countries by professors, students, academic scholars who write papers in humanities. Even if the style is very commonly used in humanities, but can also be used in other disciplines.

When do you need to use MLA?

The style is used in the following types of publications:

  • Scholarly journals
  • Magazines
  • Press

The most popular disciplines in humanities that use this format in their writing are:

  • English studies and literature
  • Foreign studies and literature
  • Literary criticism
  • Media studies
  • Cultural studies

In the disciplines such as history, philosophy, and theology it can’t be used; for these subjects usually students need to use the Chicago Style.

Types of writing that use the MLA are:

  • Research: The MLA is good to use because it gives the proper credit to the cited authors
  • Persuasive essay
  • Literary essay
  • Expository essay
  • Argumentative essay

What are the features of the MLA citation?

MLA format assumes two types of citations. Just like any other format, it requires writers to create a separate page in the end of the paper, which will include citations of all sources, books or journal publications that author used to create his work. This page is called Work Cited, and it’s obligatory to have this page and format it right. If this wasn’t done, student can be accused in plagiarizing his paper because usage of any source that is not listed in Work Cited will be treated as intentional copying of someone’s work, which is not allowed and can cause serious problems with subject. On this page, you need to place all sources in alphabetic order and structure it according to the following example:

  • Johnson, Eric. History students and the MLA style. New York: New York Press, 2008. Print.

Second type of citations that can be used in MLA style can be placed right in your text. And again, there are strict rules regarding its structure. Student must follow the author-page rule. Students can input citation into their text in few ways, the difference between them is only the order of placing data about used source. Below you can see examples of citations that can be put in text:

  • Johnson stated that most history students “can barely use the MLA style in their writing” (103).
  • Most history students “can barely use the MLA style in their writing” (Johnson 103).
  • Johnson found out how often history students use the MLA style while writing their papers (103).

What are the other styles of writing?

MLA is often used in different academic papers, but, as you know, it’s not the only style that students can use in their writings. Three other formats are considered as the most often used at schools, colleges and universities. First of them is APA style, it is quite similar to MLA, and it’s used mainly in papers assigned on some social studies. Unlike, this style, which can’t be used for subjects like history, – Chicago format is used mostly for historical papers or some social science publications. The last style is called Turabian and its can be used for humanities, social and natural sciences.

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