MLA Style: Definition and Meaning for Scholars

MLA Style: Definition and Meaning for Scholars

Modern Language Association has established its own academic writing style known as MLA. This abbreviation is the first one school students meet when they face their first serious essays where they have to cite some sources. The first writing assignments do not cover too complicated topics, so MLA is the simplest formatting style out of all. Other professional fields and research activities suggest that you cite any published material in MLA as well.

The main purpose of Modern Language Association was to motivate students to cite their works in MLA properly whenever they use traditional or online resources like libraries to find relevant information. Published materials prepared by journalists and other experts should be cited too. Teachers usually assign MLA style along with humanities and liberal arts papers. You may meet MLA formatting in many publications as it is the most popular type of formatting. By having a look at any sample taken from the online writing service, you can have an overall picture of how to cite an article using MLA.

It is easy to learn how to cite in MLA. The Association provides guidelines, so try to learn them by heart. The recently released versions of MLA style are 7th and 8th respectively. The second resource is updated, so it is better to learn how to insert in-text citations from MLA Handbook (8th edition). Modern Language Association has created this style, so it has all rights to change the standards. Make sure you apply MLA formatting according to the most recent guidelines.

Download a free MLA citations guide to learn how to work with:

  1. Research papers
  2. Published sources
  3. In-text MLA citations
  4. Endnotes/Footnotes
  5. Works Cited page (a.k.a. Bibliography or References page)

The Purposes of Adding Citations in MLA Style, or Why We Cite

First of all, formatting is used to make academic papers in humanities or liberal arts look well-organized. When students cite and format paper in MLA style, they make their papers look visually accurate and attractive. Teachers hate dirty works. You also need to search for the accepted MLA essay structure to submit a perfect paper. It is better to avoid citing the last sentence of any paper paragraph. Also, try not to cite any sources in the conclusion of your published MLA article.

Published sources are usually more credible than online articles. However, it is easier to access any site than going to the traditional library nowadays. Anyway, Modern Language Association has proposed MLA style of formatting to let students and scholars who are involved in studying humanities or liberal arts use the words of other authors. Almost every article or site has its copyright. A copyright protects any citation as intellectual property. That is why you have to cite every source in MLA carefully when writing an essay or article for further publication. Without correct MLA citations, your paper will be considered plagiarism.

Properly inserted MLA citations allow readers to find the source by author, title, or other information like publishing year or publisher name. Not only published materials can be cited: students may use any credible, official site as a good resource. Finally, humanities and liberal arts students cite in MLA format to earn high grades. As a rule, formatting is 20% of the final grade. A particular paper format should be applied to each page of your future publication. If your instructor requires it in your research article, add annotations to citations.

You can read more about including citations in styles different from MLA.

How to Cite Published and Online Sources with the Help of MLA

Until you learn the formatting principles created by Modern Language Association, you won’t be able to cite on other styles. Use our online resource to review the process of citing in MLA. First of all, it is important to view the list of the basic MLA format elements before including any published or online source in the list on Works Cited page. Every citation is made of the next parts:

  1. Author's name and last name in full.
  2. The full title of the source.
  3. The title of all contributors.
  4. A version of the published source.
  5. Number.
  6. Publisher.
  7. Publication date.
  8. Location (city or site).

Don't forget to write down a full URL of the site along with the date of access if you used one to collect information.

Now, you should understand the difference between in-text citation and Works Cited page in MLA style. While you may cite one's words in any part and on any page of your article or academic paper, write only full references on the Works Cited page. In other words, explain where the quotations were taken from to your readers. Mind that Works Cited page in MLA style must include only up-to-date and relevant sources, so WikiHow or any forum is not a good choice of source.

Here are some examples of the correctly formatted Works Cited page in MLA style:

Bentzley, Sharon, and Goodwin, Rich. "Basic Principles of Liquid Penetrant Inspection."

NDTMag, November 2010, pp. 16-18.

Betz, Carl. "Principles of Magnetic Particle Testing." Magnaflux Corporation,

American Society for Non-destructive Testing (1988).

Charles,Marie-Jocelyne, Harmon, Bart J., and Jordan, Pamela S. "Improving Patient

Safety with the Military Electronic Health Record." Vol. 3

Rockville: Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (US); 2005 Feb.

If you want your MLA paper to be cited and formatted in the same accurate way, order professional essay writing from the academic writers online. They say they work round-the-clock.

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