MLA Style Formatting

In every field of research, there is a need to borrow facts or figures from other scholarly studies. Based on the requirement, the conventions used in various papers may vary. The MLA style follows a set of guidelines set by the Modern Language Association. This style is widely used in the field of humanities, especially in English, philosophy, foreign languages, and religious studies. High school and college writing assignments mostly follow this standardized writing style. Generally, MLA style of formatting is considered to be simpler and more concise compared to other styles.

Formatting Quotations in MLA Style

MLA style of formatting is one of the most commonly used styles for writing and formatting papers. The present article on ‘Formatting Quotations in MLA Style’ presents some effective tips to help you learn the ways and techniques essential for formatting quotations in MLA style.

Some useful tips for formatting quotations in MLA style are discussed below.

Tips for Formatting Quotations in MLA Style

Short Quotations

  • Quotations that are shorter than three or four lines should be placed in double quotation marks (“ ”) and included in the text of the document.
  • Give the parenthetical citation right away after the quotation.
  • Every punctuation mark, except question (?) and exclamation marks (!), should be inserted after the parenthetical citation.
  • Question and exclamation marks, which appear in the original source, should be placed inside the quotation marks.

Long Quotations

  • Quotations that are longer than four lines should be typed in block quotations.
  • These quotations should be indented one inch from the margin, double-spaced, and devoid of any quotation marks.
  • Block quotations are usually initiated by a colon.
  • Insert the parenthetical citation following the final punctuation mark of the quotation.

Poetry Quotes

  • While quoting a single line of verse, ensure to put it in quotation marks and fit it into the text.
  • While quoting two or three lines of verse, ensure to separate each line with a forward slash [/]. Insert the passage in quotation marks and include it in the text.
  • While using slashes for separating lines of quoted verse, ensure to put a space before and after the slash.
  • Add a parenthetical citation to the author and to the line number(s) of the poem.
  • While quoting more than three lines of verse, ensure to type them in block quotations. Indent them one inch from the left margin.
  • Block quotations of poetry must precisely reproduce the line breaks, spacing and punctuation as set up in the original text.
  • Avoid using quotation marks for block quotations unless they appear in the original.
  • The parenthetical citation should appear at the end of the last line of poetry.
  • In case, the parenthetical citation does not fit into the last line of poetry, insert it in the subsequent line, flushing it with the right margin of the essay.

Drama Quotes

  • For quoting the words of a particular character in a prose play, follow the procedure for a standard prose quotation.
  • For quoting the words of a particular character in a verse play, follow the guidelines of MLA-style for quoting poetry.
  • For quoting a dialogue between two or more characters, type the passage into a block quotation.
  • Name of characters should be in capital letters followed by a period and then the text as it appears in the original text.
  • Succeeding lines of the dialogue of the characters should be indented an additional three spaces.
  • When a dialogue changes to another character, start it in a new line, which should be indented one inch from the left margin.

Inserting or Changing Words in Quotations

  • While adding or changing words in a quotation, ensure to indicate this by inserting square brackets around the words, which are not part of the original text.

Excluding Words in Quotations

  • While excluding or omitting words from a quotation, ensure to indicate this by employing ellipsis marks, i.e., three spaced periods.
  • Ellipses should be used every time you leave out some material from a quotation that appears to be a sentence or a series of sentences.

By following the given tips you can learn the basic techniques for formatting quotations in MLA style without any major error or fault. The above mentioned strategies will help you to learn and get familiar with formatting quotations in MLA style in the most proper way.

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.