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.

MLA style citation: In-text

The basic purpose of using in-text citations and references is to enable the reader to easily locate/access the sources from which data/information has been collected. The MLA style citations are formatted according to the guidelines of the Modern Language Association. A paper with MLA style citation should include in-text citations with a corresponding reference list, commonly known as ‘Works Cited’. The Works Cited section at the end of your paper should include all the in-text citations that have been used in the main paper.

Guidelines for MLA style citations: In-text

Basic citation

Mention the author’s surname and the page number of the work from which the information was taken.

Example 1: We can know only that we know nothing. And that is the highest degree of human wisdom (Tolstoy 348).

Example 2: According to Tolstoy, the company of intelligent women is very much necessary for a young man (15).

Note: There should be no punctuations between the author’s surname and page number. If the author’s name is mentioned in the sentence itself, do not include it in the parentheses.

Two or three authors

If there are two or three authors, use ‘and’ as a separator, not ‘&’.

Example 1: . . . for the effective management of stroke in TAH patients (Hart and Sherman 671).

Example 2: The subjects suffered from severe infection (Rose, Moskowitz, and Packer 726).

More than three authors

List the first author’s surname followed by ‘et al.’

Example:  (Smith et al. 55).

Multiple works cited together

Example: (Tolstoy 348; Smith et al. 55).

Two authors with same surname

To differentiate the works of two authors having the same surname, include the initials of both the authors.

Example: … is described (A. Johnson 118). The advantages of these methods were investigated in another study (T. Johnson 301).

Short Quotations

Example 1: Freud stated that “religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis” (78).

Example 2: “Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis” (Freud 78).

Long Quotations

If the quote is more than 4-5 lines:

  • It should be set as a separate block.
  • Set an indent of one inch from the left margin.
  • Do not use quotation marks.
  • The page number should be set in parentheses after the quotation ends. Remember that it should be set after the period.


This reminds us of Parker’s famous words:

This is a small advice for all young men out there. Do not marry until you have proved yourself, both to you and to others. People don’t value the emotions that you have. They just see what you are, how successful you are. They say that feelings cannot provide you with two square meals a day. You need to have money for that. (28)

We have discussed only a few of the most commonly used MLA style citations for in-text entries. It will be further discussed in our future posts.

Book Index

The term “Index” is mostly used in the publishing industry. It is a systematic list of words with the page numbers on which that particular word appears. For example, you read a book about banking operations. After reading it, you want to look up some information about ATMs, but you don’t remember the exact page number. If the book has an index, you can easily look at it and find the page number where information about ATM is given. An index can be of various types, such as for books, journals, computer databases, etc. Of these, book index is most commonly found. Indexing is not required to be done for short books or novels.

A book index can be considered to be the search engine of your book. As such, it is a very important concept. It helps the readers to quickly and easily locate something in a large book. It is considered to be an organized map of the complete book. It would not be wrong to say that a book’s usefulness is measured by its index. An index is usually found at the end of a book and is also known as back-of-the-book index.

General Tips for Preparing a Book Index

  • Identify the important concepts of each topic and then make a list of the key terms.
  • Organize the entries in an alphabetical order. That makes it easier to search for entries.
  • Give an extra space before starting the next alphabet’s entries. That will enhance the visual appeal of the index.
  • Use a separator, preferably comma, between the entry and its page number.
  • Ensure that there are no spelling mistakes. And, double check that you have set the correct page numbers.
  • The book index should be prepared only when the content has been completely finalized. If not, the page numbers would have to be updated again or some entries have to be added/deleted when some changes are made to the content.

Preparing a book index is an exhaustive and frustrating task. Therefore, authors/writers mostly seek the help of professional indexers for setting it.

Tips for Writing Business Proposals

Knowledge of writing business proposals is always an added advantage. No matter in what field you are, at some point of time, you are sure to come across business proposals. A business proposal is a formal written document from a seller to a potential buyer or client, which includes the products or services offered by them. It is a key aspect to boost the sales of a company.

In the current competitive business world, there are people who spend considerable time in submitting business proposals, but do not get any positive results. On the other hand, there are also people who are able to take their business to new levels after submitting just one business proposal. Based on the way it is written, a business proposal can potentially prove to be beneficial to your company or spell doom for it.

Writing business proposals may seem to be an uphill task, especially for people who have no idea whatsoever how to go about it. Let us discuss a few things that will hopefully make the task of writing business proposals much easier for you.

Things to Remember while Writing Business Proposals

  • Do extensive research about the exact requirements of potential clients, what is offered by the industry presently, loopholes, etc. Also, make note of what your competitors are offering. This will help your business proposal to be as much descriptive and comprehensive as possible.
  • State the business problem in clear terms and what solution you have in order to tackle that problem. Also, mention how your solutions are different from your competitors.
  • Always think from the client’s perspective. Take into account the potential questions they would ask you regarding your services. This will help you to get an idea of their doubts and expectations. Based on that, you can decide what additional services you will provide so as to attract their attention towards your company.
  • Think, amongst a host of similar companies, why would the client choose you? Your business proposal should list your expertise, achievements, and what all extra things you have on offer that will convince your clients to choose you, and not others. You should convince the client that you are the right person to serve them. You can list past testimonials to support your claims.
  • Provide a basic idea about your working process to the client. It will help give confidence to the client that you are capable of handling his job from A to Z.
  • The ideas in your business proposal must be presented in a simple and organized manner. The target audience should be able to understand it easily. The language should be simple, yet compelling enough to attract and convince the reader.

Remember, a good business proposal is instrumental for the success of your business. It is the window through which potential clients get a glimpse of what products and services you have on offer for them. And, whether they come to your door or not completely depends upon what they see in your business proposal. Writing business proposals might be time-consuming, but at the end of the day, they prove to be beneficial for you and your company.

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.

APA Style Citation

APA style citation follows the official guidelines set by the American Psychological Association for listing the sources used in a research paper. It has found widespread use in various disciplines, especially papers of social and behavioral sciences.

A paper with APA style citation should include in-text citations with a corresponding reference list, commonly known as the Reference section. In a research paper, the in-text citations are used in the main body of the paper when you refer to other studies relevant to your topic. The Reference section at the end of your paper should include all the in-text citations that you have used in your main paper. You need to keep in mind that, if you have cited a source in text, it must be included in the reference list.

Advantages of APA Style Citation

  • Its format is standardized in such way that the reader can understand it easily. The in-text citations help the reader to identify the source while reading the sentence/paragraph itself.
  • It does not use footnotes and endnotes. Therefore, the reader does not get distracted while going through the paper.
  • Its format undergoes periodic updations keeping in mind the current research trends.

Guidelines for Using APA Style Citation

Citing references in APA format may seem to be complex for beginners. So, we will discuss a few of the most commonly used APA style citations, which will help to form a basic understanding of this format.

APA Style Citation – In-text

Direct quotes

Example 1: Freud (1927) stated that “religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis” (p. 78).

Example 2: “Religion is comparable to a childhood neurosis” (Freud, 1927, p.78).

Note: In case the quote is longer than 40 words, it should be set as a separate block of text with an indent of half inch from the left margin. Do not use quotation marks.

Two authors

Example 1: Optimization of anticoagulation therapy along with the platelet antiaggregation therapy is necessary for the effective management of stroke in TAH patients (Hart & Sherman, 1987).

Example 2: Hart and Sherman (1987) reported that optimization of anticoagulation therapy along with the platelet anti-aggregation therapy is necessary for the effective management of stroke in TAH patients.

Note: ‘and’ is used when the author names are part of the paragraph; ‘&’ is used when the author names are given in parenthesis.

Two to five authors

In first citation, all the names are listed. In subsequent citations, ‘et al.’ is used.

Example: …suffered from serious infection and sepsis (Rose, Moskowitz, & Packer, 1999).

In subsequent citations of the same source, use (Rose et al., 1999).

Six or more authors

In this case, cite the first author’s name followed by et al. for all occurrences.

Example: … for treatment of several diseases (Williams et al., 2002).

Multiple studies cited together

They should be sorted alphabetically with first author name.

Example: Numerous studies (Freud, 1927; Kamil, 1988; Rose et al., 1999; Williams et al., 2002)…

APA Style Citation – References

Two to six authors

Maliranta, M., Mohnen, P., & Rouvinen, P. (2009). Is inter-firm labor mobility a channel of knowledge spillovers? Evidence from a linked employer–employee panel. Industrial and Corporate Change18(6), 1161-1191.

More than six authors

Wolchik, S. A., West, S. G., Sandler, I. N., Tein, J., Coatsworth, D., Lengua, L., et al. (2000). An experimental evaluation of theory-based mother and mother-child programs for children of divorce. Journal of Consulting and Clinical Psychology, 68, 843-856.


Alchian, A. A. (1950). Uncertainty, evolution, and economic theory. Journal of Political Economy58(3), 211-221.

Note: The issue number should be used only if each issue of that particular journal starts with page one.


Fraenkel, J. R., & Wallen, N. E. (1996). How to design and evaluate research in education. New York: McGraw-Hill.

Book chapter

Stinchcombe, A. L. (1965). Social structure and organizations. In J. G. March (Ed.), Handbook of organizations (pp. 142-193). Chicago, IL: Rand McNally.

Edited book

Brown, J. E., & Stephens, E. C. (Eds.). (1998). United in diversity: Using multicultural young adult literature in the classroom. Urbana, IL: National Council of Teachers of English.

We have listed a few of the most commonly used APA style citations. For more examples and additional information, you can refer the Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association.

Choosing Effective Title and Keywords in APA Format Research Paper

The American Psychological Association (APA) format for a research paper mainly consists of four sections: the title page, abstract, main body, and references. Most of the time, the researchers are busy writing the main text of the paper, overlooking the importance of choosing effective title and keywords in APA format research paper.

Little importance is given to the title and abstract in a paper while the keywords are almost ignored and written in a hurry at last. This is a dangerous thing to do as these three—the title, abstract, and keywords—are essential for publication success.

Choosing Effective Title and Keywords: Why is it Important?

Choosing effective title and keywords in APA format research paper is extremely crucial in helping someone find your research. Without these, most papers will not be read or found by readers. This is because most search engines, websites or databases use the words found in the title, abstract, and keywords to display the paper when someone searches with a keyword. Thus, the title of the paper, keywords and the abstract decide whether the paper will be found and cited by another researcher or reader.

In most cases, the title and abstract are freely available in the internet. Therefore, the title and abstract determine whether the reader will continue to read the paper and want to buy it.

Choosing an Effective Title

A good title should be around 10-12 words and should only use words and phrases which correctly highlight the content of the research paper. An effective title will help search engines to categorize and rank the paper for better viewership.

While writing the title, it is necessary to search for those keywords that properly describe the paper. The title should be self explanatory, correct and comprehensible. The title in an APA format research paper is center aligned at the top of the page and is not bold, italicized or underlined.

After the title, the author(s) name(s) and institutional affiliation(s) as well as the corresponding author and contact details are presented.

Some Steps Towards Writing an Effective Title in APA Format Research Paper

  • Choose vital keywords from the paper.
  • Then frame a sentence with those keywords.
  • Delete unnecessary words and rephrase if needed to form a meaningful sentence.

Choosing Effective Keywords in APA Format Research Paper

Keywords are written after the abstract in an APA paper in a particular format. Around 5-6 keywords should be listed (the number might vary according to journal specifications). They are written after an indent, as if starting a new paragraph. The word ‘Keywords’ is italicized, followed by a colon mark, and is left aligned. The keywords are written in lower case with a comma separating each key word. There is no full stop after the last keyword.

While writing keywords, you must think what words you could have given while searching for your own paper.

Therefore, for better exposure and publication chances, care must be taken while choosing effective title and keywords in an APA format research paper.