9 Step #6: Properly Formatted (MLA)

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Essays in Humanities classes are formatted according to Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines. Formatting can be a frustrating and time-consuming process. But there are many tools and tricks to help you through the weeds.

Stay calm and focused and learn how to use the tools that will assist you in proper MLA formatting. If something doesn’t make sense, ask for help. Do this at the end of the process, during your “local editing” phase. MLA involves three primary components when getting your essay into proper format:

    1. Formatting of the first page of your essay.
    2. Proper use of “in-text” citations (citing sources you use in the body of the text of your essay).
    3. Properly formatted “Works Cited” or “Works Consulted” page.

BEST: When an essay is properly crafted and formatted, the reader is able to clearly and easily follow the ideas and trace outside information to its original sources.

On the MLA Style Guides site there is a section called “Citation Builders” which will help put sources into proper format for you. Note also that in most newer versions of Microsoft Word there is an MLA template you can select to automatically put your document into MLA format.

Sources taken from the MHCC Library Databases will already be listed at the bottom of the article in MLA format. Simply copy and paste the citation from the database entry to your Works Cited page (making sure the entry is: in proper alphabetical position, bold type, double-spaced, and in proper “hanging” format”).

Lastly, although most essays in Writing and Humanities classes will be formatted according to the Modern Language Association (MLA) guidelines, many other classes will use alternative formats such as APA, Chicago and ASA documentation styles. Use this link to assist in the construction of these alternative formats.

As always, when in doubt…reach out!


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The Writing Process by Andrew Gurevich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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