Formatting an Academic Essay in MLA Style

The Modern Language Association Style, better known as MLA style, has been adopted by many writers as their style of preference when referencing other texts in their work. This is because:

  • It is similar to other styles of writing
  • It is easily recognizable
  • Many others use it
  • It is easy to learn

This article will briefly take you through the key points in MLA style referencing; what is required and how it’s done.


Once you are done with all your work and are able to proudly say that this is your work, make sure you thank those people who helped you along the way. By people, I mean the books and articles you referred to along the way while you were doing your research. The MLA style requires you do add a page of references at the end of all your research work. The format of the cited work is easily done. You need to know the name of the author, year of publication, place of publication, title and pages used (if possible). The more specific your reference, the more weight it will hold.


While you are working on your essay, you can always remember to cite the parts which you borrowed ideas from as part of your essay. This is done by adding footnotes. A footnote is basically a reference cited at the bottom of the page in which the reference is used. This is necessary so that the person reading the essay can follow the footnote and see where you got the information from. Furthermore, it also allows you to do your citations early on and not worry about what you left out. If you do this correctly, you can cut off a few references from the end references page as long as they are seen under footnotes.

It is true that MLA is not the only style of referencing available out there. It is also true that MLA is one of the most used and preferred styles of referencing available today. If you can learn this style of referencing, you are hardly going to go wrong with your publication. Great care however must be taken when dealing with any style of referencing, not only MLA. Always remember to cite your sources. If it’s not your work, then it’s best to reference or footnote it in order to avoid plagiarism penalties.

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