How to Cite a Research Paper Using MLA Format
Students get all sorts of assignments to do and each comes with a different set of requirements. One of these is in the style of writing and formatting requirements. Therefore, being knowledgeable in your area of study is not enough. You need to know how best you can format your paper in the requisite standard manner in order to score a good grade.
There are different styles of formatting your papers and MLA is one of them. Ideally, MLA stands for the Modern Language Association. There are guidelines and rules that define this kind of formatting as would be outlined in this article. In most cases, MLA is used in literature, cultural studies, English studies and so on but you will be required to use it should your tutor demand it in any other assignment.
MLA is an academic writing style that is widely used by students across the globe. This has been a common requirement for students taking studies in English literature and humanities. So, how does the MLA writing style look like? Well, formatting your paper in MLA comes in all aspects and therefore, here is a standard way of doing so:
1. Your first page
The front page of an MLA formatted paper contains four main parts: Your full name, Name of your tutor, Name of the course and date of submitting your assignment. These details are to be provided at the top-left corner of the front page. Below is the format:
- Your name
- Name of tutor
- Name of Course
- Date of Submission
Essentially, an MLA formatted paper does not have a title page like is the case with other formatting styles. Again, each page of your paper must have a header indicating your surname to the left and an automatic numbering to the right side of the header. To do this, go to insert and choose header as shown below.
2. Basic paper formatting
To get started, there are some things you need to do. MLA is also defined through some settings on Ms Word and therefore, this requirement should be met before submitting your work. It is very important for you to consider making these settings because they count towards your chosen MLA style.
Word comes loaded with default settings of line height, margin, typeface and paragraph spacing. All these must be adjusted to suit the recommended MLA style. First, make sure that there is no extra spacing between paragraphs. Again, use 12-point typeface of the Times New Roman font.
To navigate to the spacing settings, go to the home page of your word document and click on paragraph. Set all values as shown in the image below. It will also be important to confirm these settings after you have finished writing your paper.
Yes, you can also make these settings after you have written your paper. All you need to do is select all content in your document by pressing Ctrl + A and then choose the Times New Roman font 12-point typeface. While your text is still highlighted, proceed to make the paragraph settings described above.
Prior to getting started with your writing, make sure that your page margins are set to 1 inch on both sides of your text. Next, the line spacing or line height should be made double-space or rather set to 2.0 as seen above. This helps in making your text less crammed on the reader’s eye and allows your tutor to make important comments in an organized way.
The default settings are usually 1.15 line spacing, Calibri 11-point typeface, all round 1-inch margins and 10pt spacing in between paragraphs. Here is an example of how you can change these parameters. For instance, to change margins, go to page layout and then click on margins and chose “Normal for a 1-inch margin” all round.
3. Citing your text
For one, there is what is normally called in-text referencing or basically citing sources within your text. Citing your research paper in MLA format would require you to include your references in two sections and this is one of them. Basically, in-text citation refers to the citations you make inside the body section of your paper. An in-text citation is most preferably used when a quote is used directly from a source or refers to it through the author or title.
For in-text citation, the author’s last name and the page number of the source used are enclosed in parentheses right after the quote. When the name of the author is part of the sentence, then you will only have to include the page number in the parentheses. Look at the example below:
Version 1: High quality roads guarantee safety for all road users (James 23)
Version 2: According to James, high quality roads guarantee safety for all road users (23).
Having made this requirement, there will still be another thing to do pertinent to all sources used in the in-text referencing. Here, you will be required to provide a page with all sources used after writing your research paper in the end.
This page must include a list of all sources quoted within the body of your research, basically, every source used in writing your paper.
The title of this page is known as a “Works Cited” page, where the works cited in your writing will be listed alphabetically. Again, there is a way in which they usually are listed and must adhere to it.
The source should include at least two full names of the authors (no initials), the title of the source, town/city of publication, the publisher and the page numbers of where the information was extracted from.
Here is an example of what to expect: “Surname, other names. Title of source. City of publication: Publisher, date/year of publication, page numbers xx-xx. Some sources will require more details.
For example, journals and articles may also include the volume and issue no, indicated in that order just before the date of publication. Having met all these requirements, your paper will be well formatted in the set MLA standard way of writing for your paper.
How to Cite an Essay in MLA
Whether you refer to an essay from a nonfiction author in your literary paper or a work from a political figure in your history essay, you need to include citations that lead your readers to the source material. In Modern Language Association (MLA) format, these citations include the author, essay title and information about the print or online source where you found the essay, such as the editor, publisher name and publication date. MLA style also dictates the use of in-text citations to point the reader to the appropriate works cited entry.
Anthology or Collection Bibliography Citations
It is most likely that you will cite a single essay from a collection or anthology. These kinds of books often have editors, whose names you will need to add to your citation. If you refer to the entire book, which is rare, begin the citation with the editor’s names:
Strayed, Cheryl, and Robert Atwan, eds. The Best American Essays 2013. San Diego: Mariner, 2013. Print.
In the above citation, there are two editors; the first is listed last name — first name, and the second is listed first name — last name. Most often, you need to cite a single essay found in a collection. This changes the citation format slightly because you refer to the author and essay title before the collection, as in the example:
Monson, Ander. “The Exhibit Will Be So Marked.” The Best American Essays 2013. Ed. Cheryl Strayed and Robert Atwan. San Diego: Mariner, 2013. 245-253. Print.
All bibliographic entries in MLA need to use a hanging indent, in which the second and subsequent lines of text for each entry are indented.
Citing Books in MLA
You might need to refer to an entire collection of essays by one author; in this case, you would cite the collection as a book by an author, as follows:
Sedaris, David. Me Talk Pretty One Day. New York: Back Bay, 2001. Print.
If the book is translated, include the translator in the citation, much like you would for an editor:
de Montaigne, Michel. The Complete Essays. 1572. Trans. M. A. Screech. New York: Penguin Classics, 1993. Print.
This citation includes two dates, because the original essays were published in 1572, while the reprinted edition referred to was published in 1993. If your book source has two or three authors, follow the format of last name — first name for the first author, and use first name — last name format for the subsequent authors. If there are more than three authors, list the first author as last name — first name, followed by “et al.” for “and others.”
Essays Found Online
You might find essays online, which are likely published on a website or as part of an online journal or magazine. To cite the Web page, first list the author and essay title, followed by the name of the website and the date you accessed the site, as in the example:
Gould, Emily. “How Much My Novel Cost Me.” Medium, 2014. Web. 15 Feb. 2015.
If the essay came from a Web magazine, also include the magazine’s name and publishing information in your citation:
Comiskey, Nancy. “Dear Kate: Living With Grief.” Indianapolis Monthly. Indianapolis Monthly Publications, 2014. Web. 12 Feb. 2015.
MLA format does not require you to write the URL at the end of the citation, but you could include it after the access date.
Parenthetical and in-text citations direct your reader to the bibliographic entry in your works cited page. In MLA format, you use the author’s last name followed by the page numbers in parentheses after a sentence or group of sentences referring to the essay. For example, “(Sedaris 25-32)” — without the quote marks — would finish your sentence, and you place the sentence’s period after the parenthetical citation. If you mention the author within a sentence, only put the page number in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Web sources do not require page numbers in the parenthetical citations; use just the author’s last name instead.
How to Cite an Article Within an Essay
Academic writing styles require in-text citations to give credit to a source when a writer refers to someone else’s work. Though basic guidelines are similar, citation requirements vary depending on the documentation style used. Consider which documentation style is most appropriate for your area of study. Most college assignments require either Modern Language Association or American Psychological Association style.
MLA uses the author-page method for in-text citations. Place the author’s last name either in a signal phrase within the referenced sentence or in parentheses at the end of the sentence. Place the page number in parentheses after the sentence unless the work has no page number. A signal phrase citation would look like this: In his essay «Social Change,» Dr. John Smith writes, «Positive social change gives people the ability to improve the future» (27). Format a parenthetical citation like this: «Positive social change gives people the ability to improve the future» (Smith 27). Always use quotation marks for direct quotes.
APA in-text citations require the author-date method. The author’s last name and the year of publication appear in the text. It includes the page number when using direct quotes. Here is an example of a citation within the sentence: Smith (2010) noted in his essay, «Positive social change gives people the ability to improve the future» (p. 27). Format a parenthetical citation like this: Positive social change can improve a person’s future (Smith, 2010). Here is an example of a parenthetical citation with a direct quote: «Positive social change gives people the ability to improve the future» (Smith, 2010, p. 27). Notice the formatting of the page number (p. 27) differs from MLA style.