Writing an Abstract in MLA Style

An MLA-style abstract is a concise review of a finished research paper that inspires its readers to read the whole document on the topic. Writing an abstract in MLA style usually aims to summarise the objective, subject-matter, methods, discussions, and conclusions of a paper. An abstract is a reduced form of a lengthy piece of writing. It highlights the key points, briefly describes the content and scope of the paper and reviews the content in a shortened form. Writing an abstract in MLA style is one of the most commonly used modes to write abstracts in the arts and humanities courses.

Writing a high-quality abstract need the explanation of what was done and what was found by the study in an easy, concise and direct language so that readers can ultimately decide whether to read the complete paper or not. The general rules provided in the present article will guide you in writing an abstract in MLA style.

General Rules for Writing an Abstract in MLA Style

  • While writing an abstract in MLA style, it is firstly needed to summarise the objective of the research and the methods used.
  • MLA-style abstract should comprise a short description of the objective, methods, findings and convincing conclusions of the study.
  • MLA-style abstract for humanities topics should be short and snappy. It should be about 150–250 words long.
  • MLA format does not generally need an abstract. In case an abstract is required, it should be placed after the title page, but before the main text of the document.
  • State why you decided to conduct a research on the subject and why the readers should be concerned about the topic of your research.
  • Give a detailed account of the research methods used in the study. Also, describe how the results of the study were obtained.
  • Give an account of the findings and include what was found as the result of your research.
  • In case, the findings have larger implications, comprise them in the conclusion section.
  • Avoid ambiguous and unnecessary words, phrases and sentences that hamper the real value of the abstract.
  • Ensure there are no grammatical, spelling or punctuation errors in the abstract. The abstract should be error-free in order to achieve the readers’ confidence.
  • Abstract should be double-spaced throughout. Use decipherable fonts, like Times New Roman, Arial, etc., in 12-point font size.
  • When citing a long work in the abstract, use italics instead of quotation marks.
  • Read and revise the abstract several times to make it perfect and faultless.
  • Ensure that the final form of the abstract is kept within the word limit.

By following the given rules you can learn the basic manner by which an abstract is written in MLA style. The above mentioned general rules will help you to learn and also guide you in writing an abstract in MLA style.

Formatting in MLA Style

Formatting in MLA style is the most widely used style of formatting for writing papers and citing sources in the liberal arts and humanities. This all-inclusive guideline will make you familiar with the composition of an MLA paper and its general formatting style. Formatting in MLA style can be very useful when most of the sources in the manuscript are from published journals and other regularly published works.

The basic rules provided in the ‘Formatting in MLA Style’ article will guide you for appropriately formatting various research papers and academic publications. Initially, it might seem a bit difficult in understanding the technique of formatting in MLA style. However, with gradual use, you will become more familiar with this style and its techniques. Some basic guidelines of formatting in MLA style are discussed below.

Rules for Formatting in MLA Style

General Rules

  • MLA style of formatting suggests using such type of fonts, in which the regular and italics type styles should contrast adequately so that they are easily identifiable from each other.
  • Use a clear and readable font, namely Times New Roman, Arial, etc. Font size should be 12 point.
  • The whole document should be double-spaced.
  • Use only one space after periods or other punctuation marks.
  • Margins of the document should be set to one inch on all sides.
  • First line of paragraphs should be indented one and a half-inch from the left margin. MLA suggests using the Tab key rather than using the Space Bar five times.
  • Create a header one and a half inch from the top of the page and flush with the right margin. This header should include the page numbers provided in the upper right-hand corner. In some cases, page number on the first page is omitted.
  • Endnotes should be included on a separate page before the Works Cited page. This section should be titled as ‘Notes’ and be centre aligned.

First Page Formatting

  • Title page for the document should be included if only particularly requested.
  • In the upper left-hand corner of the first page, provide your full name, your instructor’s full name, the course, and the date.
  • Ensure that the whole document is double-spaced.
  • The title should be centred. It should not be underlined, italicised, or placed in quotation marks. The title should be written in the Title Case using standard capitalisation and not in all capital letters.
  • Double space should be used between the title and the first line of the text.
  • Create a header in the upper right-hand corner. This header should include your last name, followed by a space and the page number.
  • All pages should be numbered consecutively with Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.). In some cases, the last name and page number on the first page is avoided.


  • 1st level heading should be in bold and left aligned.
  • 2nd level heading should be in italics and left aligned.
  • 3rd level heading should be in bold and centre aligned.
  • 4th level heading should be in italics and centre aligned.
  • 5th level heading should be underlined and flushed left.

The basic guidelines offered in this article will provide you with an outline for formatting in MLA style the research papers and other academic publications. Every characteristic of MLA style guide has much more thorough specifications, which will be discussed elaborately in our subsequent posts.

Tips on Proofreading

Proofreading is the last and ultimate step of any editing process. Proofreading focuses on exterior errors, such as spelling mistakes, grammar and punctuation errors, etc. Proofreading should be done when the manuscript is completely written and checked for additional editing modifications. The present article ‘tips on proofreading’ provides some effective tips and strategies to improve the proofreading style of any written paper.

Effective Tips on Proofreading

After working so hard to present your ideas and notions in your paper, nobody would like to make careless errors and mistakes distracting their readers from what they have to tell. Therefore, it’s really necessary to pay attention to the information and devote some time for proofreading the paper to make a lasting impression.

Following tips on proofreading enable you to search analytically for explicit kinds of errors and mistakes in your paper.

  • Avoid relying completely on spell-checkers. As spell-checkers have a limited glossary, some words may show as misspelled, while in reality, these words won’t be actually present in the spell-checker glossary. Spell-checkers will not detect spelling mistakes that form another suitable word, e.g., ‘your’ instead of ‘you’re’, ‘to’ instead of ‘too’, ‘there’ instead of ‘their’, etc.
  • Avoid depending on grammar checkers. As grammar checkers work with a limited quantity of rules, they cannot spot every error and mistake. Grammar checkers should be limited to the use of identifying possible continued sentences or repeated use of passive voice.
  • Avoid spotting and revising several things at once. Try to proofread only one type of error at a time, like checking for grammar mistakes, checking for punctuation errors, and checking for spelling mistakes, should be done individually.
  • Avoid reading silently or too hurriedly as you may miss out some errors or make unaware alterations. In fact, read gradually and steadily. Read word-by-word. Reading out loud may be helpful as it compels you to say each and every word. It also allows you to listen to the words and decide whether the sentences are making sense.
  • Read each sentence independently. Look out for punctuation, grammar, or spelling mistakes. Encircle every punctuation mark. This allows you to spot each punctuation mark and decide whether the punctuation is adequate.
  • Try reading the paper backwards. This might be effective in checking spelling mistakes. As you read each word individually, your focus will be completely on the spelling of each word.
  • Whoever said this, it is actually right, ‘Ignorance may be bliss, but it won’t make you a better proof-reader’. Often some words and phrases do not seem quite right, but we are not sure about what is wrong either. Spell-checker shows the word to be right, but we are not sure whether it is correct. Should we insert comma between two words, but we are not sure of doing that. Should we use ‘that’ or ‘which’. So, whenever similar confusions arise, it is always safe to look it up.
  • Proofreading procedure becomes more proficient when you widen and practice a methodical approach. Try to identify the definite parts of your own writing that need careful consideration. Learning to have a reliable technique to find errors and mistakes will assist you to focus more on developing your ideas while preparing the paper.

You most likely already employ some of the tips and strategies discussed above. Try out different procedures and strategies until you find a method that works best for you. Tips on proofreading will help you and guide you to make the proofreading procedure efficient and purposeful. By following the strategies provided in ‘tips on proofreading’, you can learn to check as many errors and mistakes as possible in the smallest amount of time.

Tips on Editing Manuscript

Editing is the foremost step that writers take after completing their first draft. Editing manuscript includes re-reading and revising the first draft several times to ensure that the paper is well-organised, the transitions among paragraphs are even and logical, and the facts and data provided support the subject matter of the paper. The present article ‘tips on editing manuscript’ provides some effective tips and strategies to improve the revision and editing of any written paper.

Effective Tips on Editing Manuscript

Editing manuscript needs careful study and critical assessment. Editing can be done on a number of levels as described below.


  • Ensure that everything that the assignment needs has been completed.
  • Ensure that all the claims made in the paper are accurate.
  • Ensure that all the claims are consistent and are supported with sufficient proof.
  • Clarify whether the paper is presenting an argument. If yes, then ensure that the argument is complete.
  • Ensure that all the data and information provided in the paper is significant to the assignment and/or writing objective.

General Structure

  • The paper should have a suitable introduction and conclusion.
  • The thesis should be evidently stated in the introduction section.
  • Each and every paragraph of the paper should be associated to the thesis.
  • Ensure that the paragraphs are arranged in a consistent order with a smooth flow between them.
  • In order to check the overall structure of the paper, an outline of the paper can be made after finishing the first draft.

Paragraph Organisation

  • Each paragraph should have a clear and concise topic sentence.
  • Ensure that every paragraph provides adequate details about the concerned topic.
  • Check that there are no irrelevant or misplaced sentences in any of the paragraphs.


  • Define and give adequate details about any important term that might seem unclear to the readers.
  • Ensure that the meaning of each sentence is clear and understandable.
  • Check and ensure that each and every pronoun (he/she, it/they, who/which, this/that, etc.) is clear to what it refers to.
  • Choose the correct/appropriate words and phrases to convey your ideas.
  • Avoid using difficult and complex words that aren’t part of your normal vocabulary since they may be misused, thereby destroying the sentence meaning.

Style and Method

  • Check and ensure that the tone (formal/informal/persuasive) used is apt and proper.
  • Vary the length and structure of the sentences in the paper.
  • Avoid the overuse of passive voice in the paper.
  • Avoid the use of superfluous words and phrases, such as ‘there is’, ‘there are’, ‘due to the fact that’, etc.


  • Quotes, paraphrases, facts and information taken from different sources should be cited appropriately.
  • Ensure that the citations are in the proper format.

By following the above given tips on editing manuscript, you can learn to make considerable modifications and corrections in the subject-matter and wording of your paper. Tips on editing manuscript provide the basic guidelines and strategies to identify the patterns of error and correcting them effectively. After identifying the patterns of error, one can develop methods for spotting and correcting further occurrences of that pattern.

Common Rules for Scientific Writing

Writing scientific paper is a challenging task. Good and proper writing can impart excellence to scientific papers. However, certain mistakes and writing errors can have disastrous effects on scientific papers. These common mistakes in scientific writing are worth paying attention to. By learning to get these details, we can allow the reader to focus on the subject matter of the scientific paper, devoid of any distraction by uncomplicated and unnecessary errors.

Following are provided some common rules for scientific writing. These rules and conventions can guide and help to know and learn about the most basic and common rules for scientific writing.

Some Common Rules for Scientific Writing

  • All pages of the scientific paper should be numbered in a continuous order, except the first page, which is usually not numbered as it is generally understood as page one.
  • Avoid the use of sequence of parentheses, such as (Smith 2000) (Figure 1). Instead, combine the data as (Smith 2000; Figure 1).
  • Avoid in-text citations, such as “…writing experience. (Smith 2000)”. Instead, include the in-text citations inside end punctuation, such as “…writing experience (Smith 2000).”.
  • In-text literature citations must have their full citation provided in the Reference list and vice versa.
  • Define acronyms or abbreviations at the time of first use or appearance in the paper. So that the relative acronym/abbreviation can be used in rest of the paper.
  • Tables and figures should be numbered in the order they appear in the text.
  • Cite figures/tables as (Figure 1) or (Fig. 1) or (Table 1) and not as (see Figure 1) or (see Table 1) or (see Figure 1 attached), etc.
  • The results of other studies are discussed in the past tense, such as “Smith et al. (2000) found that…”.
  • The Methods section of a scientific paper is written in the past tense, as the research must have been already conducted at the time the paper is being written. However, the Results section of a scientific paper is written in the present tense.
  • Scientific names are composed of two words (genus name and species name). They are always written in italics or are underlined. First letter of the genus name is always capitalized, while the species name is not.
  • Generic names must be written in full at their first appearance in the title, abstract, and main text. However, their abbreviated form can be used in these sections, if they are subsequently mentioned.
  • Use simple words and examples rather than complex ones. Similarly, use simple sentences rather than more complicated ones.
  • Double‐space the whole scientific paper, except the abstract, which is single‐spaced.
  • Ensure to cite each and every source, as well as findings reported in the paper.
  • Always spell-check the final paper and carefully proofread before submission.

By following the above given common rules for scientific writing, one can easily learn to compose a scientific paper without any major error or mistake. However, in order to write a completely error-free scientific paper, thorough knowledge and practice is needed.

Journal Article Review in APA Style

Journal article reviews refer to the appraisal of potencies and limitations of an article’s opinion and subject matter. The article reviews offer the readers with an explanation, investigation and clarification to evaluate the importance of the article. A journal article review usually follows the APA style, which is in itself an exceptional mode of writing. Writing a journal article review in APA style requires a thorough reading of an article and then present our personal opinions on its subject matter.

In order to write a journal article review in APA style, one must necessarily conform to the detailed guidelines of APA style of writing. As such, a few tips for writing a journal article review in APA style have been provided in details below.

Tips for Writing Journal Article Review in APA Style

Getting started

Read the complete article. Most journal articles use highly complicated and difficult language and wording. Thus, it is suggested to read the article thoroughly several times to understand it perfectly. Select a statement that effectively conveys the main idea of your review. Present the ideas in a rational order, keeping in mind that all opinions must sustain the main idea.

Start with a header with citation

Journal article reviews start with a header, including citation of the sources being reviewed. This citation is mentioned at the top of the review, following the APA style (refer to the APA style manual for more information). We will need the author’s name for the article, title of the article, journal of the published article, volume and issue number, publication date, and page numbers for the article.

Write a summary

The introductory paragraph of the review should provide a brief summary of the article, strictly limiting it to one to three paragraphs depending on the article length. The summary should discuss only the most imperative details about the article, like the author’s intention in writing the article, how the study was conducted, how the article relates to other work on the same subject, the results and other relevant information from the article.

Body of the review

The succeeding paragraphs of the review should present your ideas and opinions on the article. Discuss the significance and suggestion of the results of the study. The body of the article review should be limited to one to two paragraphs, including your understanding of the article, quotations from the article demonstrating your main ideas, discussing the article’s limitations and how to overcome them.

Concluding the review

The concluding paragraphs of the review should provide your personal appraisal of the journal article. Discuss whether the article is well-written or not, whether any information is missing, or if further research is necessary on the subject. Also, write a paragraph on how the author could develop the study results, what the information means on a large scale, how further investigation can develop the subject matter, and how the knowledge of this field can be extended further.

Citation and Revision

In-text citation of direct quotes or paraphrases from the article can be done using the author’s name, year of publication and page numbers (refer to the APA-style manual for citation guidelines). After finishing the writing of journal article review in APA style, it would be advised to re-visit the review after a few days and then re-read it altogether. By doing this, you will be able to view the review with a new perspective and may detect mistakes that were previously left undetected.


The above mentioned tips will help and guide you for writing a journal article review in APA style. However, while writing a journal article review, remember that you are undertaking more than just a narrative review. Thus, the article review should not merely focus on discussing what the article is about, but should reveal your personal ideas and opinions on the article.

Common APA Style Mistakes

Writing or formatting research papers in APA style is a very delicate work. This requires a lot of learning and practice, without which slight errors can pose great blunders. In order to avoid committing common APA style mistakes in your research paper, we are going to provide some useful instruction on how to avoid these common mistakes while writing your own paper.

The present article shows some common APA style mistakes made in research papers, along with their appropriate correction. We cover the basic sections of APA style research papers, including the general formatting and reference formatting of the paper.

Some Common APA Style Mistakes in General Formatting

Page Numbers / Running Head

Incorrect: In most research papers, the page numbers and the short title, also known as the running head is either missed out or not formatted correctly.

Correct: The short title, also called the running head appears in the header of all numbered pages. Starting from the title page, all pages should be numbered consecutively and appear in the upper right corner of each page. For more detailed information regarding APA style formatting, kindly refer to APA style guide.


Incorrect: Some research papers forget to format the ‘Abstract’ section correctly, while some completely forget to even mention this section in their paper. The abstract heading is formatted in bold or italics.

Correct: ‘Abstract’ is the first impression of your paper. It is highly advised to include an abstract as far as possible. The abstract appears on a new page, and the heading is centred and formatted as the rest of the text. More information about formatting the abstract correctly can be read in our article on how to write an abstract in APA style.


Incorrect: Keywords are not listed in the abstract section.

Correct: Keywords are used by search engines to find the information that the reader is searching. Keywords are listed below the abstract and are formatted according to the APA style guide.


Incorrect: Most of the papers had incorrect or inappropriate headings, which were either of wrong level or were incorrectly formatted.

Correct: Headings are quite tricky to format in APA style. Research article’s heading are comparatively easier to format than literature review article’s heading, which is a bit more challenging. All headings, whether first level heading or second level heading or third level heading, and so on, must be equally important in the point they are mentioned.

In-text Citations

Incorrect: Most common errors found in in-text citations include, spelling irregularities, wrong use of ‘et al.’, inaccurate use of commas and ampersands, and jumbled arrangement of multiple citations in a single parenthesis.

Correct: In-text citations should be accurate and valid. The names and year of publication of citations should be consistent throughout the paper. Multiple citations appearing in a single parenthesis should be arranged in an alphabetic order.


Incorrect: Providing direct quotations without page numbers.

Correct: It is advised to provide page numbers for direct quotations as this will save time and energy used in searching the page that the quotation is taken from. For more information on formatting style, kindly refer to our article on APA style of formatting.

Some Common APA Style Mistakes in Reference Formatting


Incorrect: References are not listed and formatted properly.

Correct: References appear on a new page and are formatted with hanging indentation. The heading is centred and formatted like the rest of the text.

Reference list

Incorrect: Most common APA style mistakes found in the reference list formatting include wrong use of commas, full stops, ampersands, etc., or inappropriate formatting of the reference list.

Correct: Reference list can be effectively formatted using available referencing software. However, in order to format the reference list manually, it is necessary to read carefully and learn the correct way of reference formatting in APA style.

Digital Object Identifier (DOI)

Incorrect: In most research papers, DOIs are either omitted or scarcely provided.

Correct: DOI is a distinctive alphanumeric string used to identify content and offer a constant link to its location on the Internet. DOIs are recommended to be provided with the references as this will help the readers in finding the desired references more easily.

The above mentioned rules offer guidance to avoid the most common APA style mistakes while writing a research paper. Following these guidelines thoroughly can be little difficult. However, regular practice will eventually make you more familiar and better acquainted with the basic rules of APA style.