MLA Style Referencing Guide

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Citing or referencing sources you have used in the text is very important part of academic writing. It allows you to acknowledge the work of others that you have used in writing your paper and thus prevents plagiarism. When writing a paper, a writer generally takes help of varied sources such as books, periodicals, journals, magazines, publications, newspapers, etc. It is, therefore, important to credit these sources. Apart from this, referencing also shows that writer have read a wide range of literature and thus can provide authority for statements he makes in his work. Many Scholarly disciplines have their own style or format for referencing or citing sources. However, the widely accepted and most popular style is MLA Documentation Style.

MLA stands for “The Modern Language Association”, which is a kind of citation or referencing style. MLA style of referencing generally used to write and reference sources related to humanities and liberal art. It establishes values for citing varied sources used in writing research paper. It specifies useful guidelines for using The English language in writing and formatting the paper. It generally uses a simple two-part parenthetical documentation system for referencing sources. In simple language, MLA lays out a system for referencing sources used in writing through parenthetical citation in their work.

Proper use of MLA style of referencing help writers in building their credibility by depicting accountability to the material used as a source. In addition to this, use of this style maintains the originality of write-up and thus prevents writers from false accusations of plagiarized paper. Accusations of writers regarding plagiarized work is the most disgrace thing for any writer. It is usually accidental or intentional use of sources by other writers.

Graduate student and publishing scholars can also use MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing. One needs to refer MLA Handbook for Writers of Research Papers and other related books when using MLA style in writing. MLA Style related books and guides are easily available in reference libraries and writing centers, bookstores, as well as online.

Basic Guidelines for using MLA referencing style:

  •    No matter what font you have chosen for writing the paper, for example, Times New Roman or any other, MLA reference guide recommends that font size should always be 12 pt.
  •    It is advisable by MLA to use only single space after punctuation marks periods (unless otherwise instructed by authority)
  •   Margins of the paper should be set to 1 inch on all sides.
  •    The first line of every paragraph should start from one half-inch from the left margin. You can use Tab key on your computer instead of pressing the Space bar five times.
  •    It is also important to create a header that automatically numbers all the pages of your document consecutively in the upper right-hand corner of the paper and one half-inch from the top. Some instructor may ask to omit the number on the first page of the document. So it is advisable to follow instructor’s guidelines as well.
  •    MLA recommends the use of Italics style for the titles of your content, only if required for providing emphasis.
  •    For any type of endnotes, MLA recommends to write them on a separate page before “Reference Page”.

Formatting the First Page

  •    One should not prepare a title page unless it is mentioned in instructor’s guide.
  •    Writer’s name, instructor’s name, the date and the course should be mentioned in upper left-hand corner of the first page. Also use double–spaced text.
  •    The main topic of the work or title should be in the center of the paper, written in Title case (standard capitalization). Make sure that it is not underlined or Italicize and not all words are in the capital letter.
  •    Use Italics and/or quotation marks when referring to work of others.
  •    Use double space between the title and the first line of your document.
  •    MLA also recommends to create a header that includes the last name of the writer, followed by single space with a page number on an upper right-hand corner of the paper. Number all the pages of paper consecutively with Arabic numerals.