The Modern Language Association (MLA) recommends specific academic writing standards that are not easy to implement if you are already used to another style of referencing. In this article, we will cover the basics of MLA format, which will make its usage much easier for you.

The basics of MLA format

The works cited list should be positioned on a new page at the end of your paper, and you should put Works Cited as a centered title. The entries in the list should be alphabetized according to the last names of their authors, with the usage of the letter-by-letter rule. If the name of the author isn’t known, you should use the title of the publication in order to position it in the alphabetized list (don’t forget to ignore An, A, or The). When it comes to the names of months, they should be abbreviated in the list of works cited (with the exception of May, June, and July), but you should use their full names in your paper’s text. The MLA style doesn’t specify which date style you should use, so you can use whichever you are comfortable with, but make sure to keep it consistent throughout the paper. You shouldn’t forget to use a comma after the year when you use the month-day-year style, unless the sentence formation requires you to use another punctuation mark.

Hanging Indentation in MLA format

The MLA format requires the use of hanging indents for all citations. This means that you should flush the line of an entry left, but indent the second and subsequent lines for 1/2’’.

Does MLA format recommend italics or underlining?

It is understandable why underlining was used in the era of typewriters – most of them didn’t include an italics option. If you are writing the bibliography by hand, the underlining rule is still valid for the names of publications. However, you should replace it with italics when you use a computer. Your professor may have their preferences when it comes to underlining or italics, so you should make sure to consult them about the issue.

Punctuation, abbreviation, and capitalization

Title case capitalization is specified in the MLA guidelines. This means that you should capitalize all first, last, and principal words, and you shouldn’t forget to capitalize a word that follows a hyphen in a compound term. In order to identify the parts of a work, this style recommends the usage of lowercase abbreviations (such as ed. for editor and vol. for volume). Exceptions from this rule are the designations that follow a period. You should use the publisher’s name in abbreviated form whenever possible. The author, title, and publication information should be separated by a period followed by a space. The title should be separated from the subtitle by a colon and one space. Other types of punctuation should be used only when they are a part of the title. The titles of short works that appear within larger works should be indicated by the use of quotation marks. Quotation marks should also be used for the titles of songs or other works that aren’t published.

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