The Modern Language Association or the MLA writing format is used commonly when writing papers in the liberal arts and humanities field.
This writing format provides guidelines to researchers and writers in formatting research papers and other reports, especially when referencing sources. Referencing and citing of sources is very crucial since it protects writers from plagiarism allegations. Proper referencing demonstrates accountability to your source materials.

General guidelines to follow when writing a paper using MLA format;
Margin. Margins should be set to one (1) inch on all sides (top, bottom, left and right).
Font Size and Type. Use Font 12-pt for all text throughout the paper. Ensure you use a legible font face, and refrain from using decorative fonts. It is a recommendation that any font you choose, regular and italics type of this it should be easily differentiable.
Spacing. The entire paper should be double-spaced. This includes the title and the body of each paragraph. Avoid adding extra spaces between the heading and the title of your paper as well as between the title and body itself. Observe one space after periods and other punctuation marks unless specified.
Text Indentation. Indent the first line of each paragraph and should be approximately half-inch from the left margin. This is equivalent to 5-7 spaces. Use of the Tab key for uniformity, rather than pressing the space bar 5-7 times.
Page order and Pagination. Place a header that numbers all the pages of your paper in the upper right corner of each page, half inch from the top and right-flushed. However, this may vary upon the specifications preferred by your instructor. Sometimes headers are asked to be typed with your last name first, then the page number in Arabic numeral form. This is still in accordance to MLA writing format. It is advised that you first ask for your instructor’s guidelines to make sure you’re both in the right page.
Endnotes.Endnotes should be placed on a separate page preceding your Works Cited page. Place a “Notes” title for this section, centered on the page and must remain unformatted.

Title Page is not necessary unless you were specifically instructed by the instructor to make one. If you are instructed to do so, then the Title Page will serve as your Page 1. You are expected to list your name, your instructor’s name, course and the date on the upper left corner of the page and you should double-space after each line.After the date, double-space once again then enter the Title of your paper, aligned at the center. Don’t format the Title further. Avoid mistakes such as underlining, italicizing, typing the Title in all capital letters or full capitalization, or placing your Title in quotation marks.
However, Quotation marks may be used if you are at the same time referring to other works in your Title. If this is the case, here are some examples on their proper formatting and only the first page should include the whole heading and title:

Fearing and Loathing in Las Vegas as Morality

Racism in “Crash”

Section Headings
When writing a long research paper in MLA writing format, it is best to make use of Section Headings as these would improve your paper’s readability. Section Headings could be individual chapters of a book or named parts of an essay.
There are two (2) types of headings you can make use of: the numbered headings and the formatted, unnumbered headings. Whichever it is you choose to make use of, make sure you employ this type of sectioning for the entire paper.
What follows are sample numbered headings that can be used as your reference when making headings for your own paper using the MLA writing format:

1.Soil Conservation
1.2 Erosion
1.1 Terracing

2.Energy Conservation
2.2 Traditional Sources of Energy
2.1 Alternative Sources of Energy
3.Water Conservation
For formatted and unnumbered headings, here are some examples:
Level 1 Heading: Bold, Flush Left
Level 2 Heading: Italicized, Flush Left
Level 3 Heading: Bold, Centered
Level 4 Heading: Italicized, Centered

Level 5 Heading: Underlined, Flush left


If you choose to use only one level of headings, this means all sections are parallel and distinct and does not include any sub-heading, it is advised that all these Section Headings resemble one another grammatically for the purpose of parallelism and uniformity. It is important that you remain consistent throughout your paper.
In the event you choose to employ multiple levels of headings, meaning some sections include subsections or sub-headings, providing a key of level headings you used and their corresponding formatting to your instructor or editor could be a good idea.

All general MLA writing format guidelines apply to the body of your research paper. Between paragraphs, refrain from adding extra spaces as this is only done when you’re expected to write in business format. Otherwise, be consistent and follow the general guidelines for the entirety of your paper.

Text Citations
It is crucial to properly document your sources with parenthetical references not only to prove your paper credible but also to avoid being accused of plagiarism. Being accused of plagiarism could cause you a lot of trouble and may even result to getting a failing grade.

Here are some guidelines in parenthetical referencing for papers following the MLA writing format:

•When referencing outside sources following the MLA writing format, include a page for Works Cited to show readers where you found your data and information. This will also allow your readers to easily find the mentioned source materials themselves.
•Be reminded that the Works Cited page is not the same as Bibliography or a listing of all information you may have researched in the preparation and writing of your paper.
•Format your Works Cited page by creating a header. The whole page should be double-spaced just like the rest of the document, including citations.
•List citation entries in alphabetical order by the authors’ last names.

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The Harvard formatting style is similar to the APA (American Psychological Association) format but has two major differences. The Harvard style does not have a manual and there are various versions that can be followed. However, one common element that is adhered to in this writing format is using author name/date system when citing as reference books, articles and other documents.

GENERAL FORMAT: Make sure you use 8½” x 11.0” paper with a 1.0” margin on all sides (top, bottom, left and right); be sure to double space all lines unless otherwise instructed.

HEADER: A cover page should have a header with page numbers right-aligned. Then an abbreviated title is inserted flush left. All pages after the title page must have the abbreviated title flush left and page numbers flush right.

COVER PAGE: After the header, the first page has three lines that are centered on the page vertically & horizontally:

Line 1: essay title Line

2: author’s name Line

3: school name

INTRODUCTION: The second page of the essay has an introduction; it also contains a lead that draws the reader into the paper. This device is referred to as “a hook.”

THESIS STATEMENT: Usually found within the introduction is your thesis statement. This is the hypothesis to be supported in the body of the essay. Also at the top of the second page you should have the title of the essay and the headers on the right side.

BODY: The essay body should include substantiating paragraphs that support the thesis made in the introduction.

IN-TEXT CITATIONS: These are to support a thesis in an essay. Proper formatting for citations used in Harvard essays includes the author’s name and year of publication of the work in question.  Sort quotations (less than forty words) are place in double quotation marks within the body of the text. If quote is longer than 40 words, it should be double spaced and indented five (5) spaces from the left margin.

The citation is placed at the end of the sentence that’s been quoted; the punctuation then follows.


Appearance were deceiving; the real purpose of soldiers’ attack was not to overcome the enemy but rather to attain control of the water supply that fed the town (Cogburn 1956).

BIBLIOGRAPHY: All sources used in an essay in Harvard style must be acknowledged in the paper’s bibliography.


Author’s Last name, First initial. Year of publication, Title (underlined or in italics), edition (only in not the first), Publisher, Place of publication, page number (if applicable).


Renny, M. 1956, The end of humanityas we know it, Knowledge Base, Austin.


Author’s Last Name, First initial. Year of publication, Title of article in single quotation marks, Title of article (underlined or in italics), volume, issue, page number. example-

Hendrickson, Myrna. 2006, ‘The misinterpretation of astrological signs.’ Horoscopes for All, 23, 4, p. 16.

Web site

Author Last name, First initial, date of publication, title of publication in single quotation marks, Publisher, edition (only if not the first), type of medium, date retrieved, full web url address. Example

Moses, Wendy. 2008, ‘Best trees for your backyard,’ Garden Days, [Online], Retrieved 31 December 2009 from:  http://www.premiumacademicessays.com

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The Oxford referencing format is also called the documentary-note system. Essays written in this format use three occurrences for citations:
1. in-text in the body of the essay using a superscript using sequential numbers
2. as a footnote at the bottom of the page (identified as endnotes if used at the end of a division or chapter) and
3. in the bibliography where all works references are noted and includes, if applicable, all other materials that might have been used in writing the paper.
IN-TEXT CITATIONS: When reference is made to information or ideas from sources, a superscript number is assigned. These are placed at the end of the respective sentence and not directly after the referenced words themselves.
Examples of a paraphrased quote from book in body of essay:
The dog has been found to be a true friend of humanity. Its allegiance has been proven in many instances over the years.1
Example of a direct quote from in body of essay:
Grossman notes “No one can deny the dog’s friendship to the human race. The following examples clearly show its companionship and selfless devotion.”2
FOOTNOTE/ENDNOTE: These are placed at the bottom of the page for oxford format. A short line is inserted, separating the body of the essay from the footnote. MS Word in its References section has a utility to properly format these citations in an essay. For the examples of a book used directly above in the IN-TEXT CITATIONS section immediately above, footnote would appear as:
1 First initial, Last name. Book title. Publisher, Location of Publisher, Date, page.
Real example-
1 J. Hammonds. Super Dog in America. Harper and Kids, New Haven, 2003, 42.
If the above example was from a web site, a footnote would appear as follows:

1 Web site name, Name of article, Volume number, edotion number, date retrieved from internet,

Real example-

1 North American Dog. Dogs in our lives, 13, 12, retrieved 31 December 2009, <www.NAD.org/breed-time/htlm>

BIBLIOGRAPHY: The end of the essay includes a page or pages that credits all references used in the paper. These are the books, magazines and any other sources you may have read and know would be useful to your reads/instructor. Note that this part of the essay lists the last name of the author first (not the first initial as in the footnote area) and all entries in the bibliography are in strict alphabetical order.


Last Name, First name, Title of book, edition number other than the first, Publisher, City, year.

Real example-

Grodin, Mary, Favorite Animal Friends, 3rd Edition, Softcort Publishers, Houston, 1999.


Author, A, & B Author, ‘Title of article’, Title of Journal, vol. xx, no. xx, year, pp. x–x


Thompson, Q, ‘Friends and enemies’, Yearly Review of Fauna, 15, 10, 2005, pp. 213-221.

Web site

Author, A, Title of article, Name of site sponsor, year, retrieved day month year, .


Delaware Wildlife, Dogs, cats and birds in Delaware, State of Delaware Animal Husbandry Association, retrieved 31 December 2009, www.premiumacademicessays.com

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This formatting style consists of two separate documentation systems, notes and bibliography (called the “NB” system) used in the humanities field and author-date, preferred by the sciences. A writer’s choice between the two depends on the topical matter and the nature of the sources cited; each of the systems is preferred by different groups of scholars. The humanities style is preferred by many in the history, literature and arts. Bibliographic information is presented in notes and often in an actual bibliography. It is capable of supporting a number of sources, including those that are less prone to being included in the author-date formatting style. The author-date system is more concise and generally used in the physical, natural, and social sciences disciplines. Sources here are parenthetically cited in the text using the author’s last name and publication date. The citations are expanded in a list of references, where full bibliographic information is provided.

GENERAL FORMAT: Use 8½” x 11.0” paper with a 1.0” margin on all sides (top, bottom, left and right). The paper is separated into three parts: (1) the front (title page, copyright page, dedication and/or epigraph, table of contents, illustrations, tables, abstract, acknowledgments, etc.); (2) the body including the text; and (3) the reference materials (appendixes, endnotes, bibliography or references, glossary, index, etc.). Text should be double-spaced but indented block quotes are single-spaced. Bibliographies, footnotes, and itemized lists should also be single spaced.

FOOTNOTES/END NOTES: If using the NB system, include a footnote or endnote each time a direct or a paraphrased quote is used as a source. At the end of a page footnotes will be added where the source is referenced, and either at the end of each chapter or the whole essay endnotes will be compiled. A footnote or endnote begins with the appropriate number followed by a period and then a space. The author/date system, prevalent in the natural and social science disciplines, inserts a reference to a different work within a set of parentheses. These contain the author, the date of publication and page reference, if appropriate. A source is linked to a bibliographic reference with a superscript number. It is placed in the body of the essay following the end of the sentence in which the source is referenced. The initial reference of a source includes all relevant information; subsequently citing the same source requires only the author’s last name, shortened title of the work cited and appropriate page number or numbers. This is how an in-text citation would appear in Chicago style: The manufacturer recommends that the throttle gear is firmly secured against the wheel to prevent slippage when the motor is engaged.5 The footnote for the above in-text citation would appear below a line at the bottom of the same page: ___________________ 5 Bill Emerson, Engine Maintenance, (Duluth: Pembroke, Derby and Fenwick, 1999),56.

BIBLIOGRAPHY: Since two formatting systems are used in Chicago style, the following code explains how they are referenced below: N = Note B = Bibliography entry I = In-text Citation R = Reference list entry Some of the bibliographic formats for the more common reference materials are shown below:

Book Example

N: 4. Kevin Delavan, Lassos and Rope Tricks, (Carson City: Wild Bill Publications, 2005), 78.

B: Delavan, Kevin, Lassos and Rope Tricks, Caron City: Wild Bill Publications, 2005.

I: (Delavan, 2005, 78)

R: Delavan, Kevin, 2005, Lassos and Rope Tricks, Caron City: Wild Bill Publications. Journal  example

N: 9. James Murphy, “Crimes,” Police Work, 101 (2004): 45.

B: Murphy, James, “Crimes,” Police Work, 101 (2004): 45.

I: (Murphy 2004, 45)

R: Murphy, James, 2004, Police Work, 101 (2004): 45.

Web Site Example

N: 2. Smith Dairies, “Milk Products,” Smith and Family Dairy Products, http://www.premiumacademicessays.com

B: Smith Dairies, “Milk Products,” Smith and Family Dairy Products, http://www.premiumacademicessays.com(2009).

I: (Smith Dairies)

R: Smith Dairies, Milk Products, Smith and Family Dairy Products, http://www.premiumacademicessays.com

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The Turabian format was created specifically for student who did not require a strict scholarly style for their essays and papers. It is based on the Chicago Style of writing and is mainly for writing history papers, but it is sometimes used in other disciplines.

TITLE PAGE: for this particular style of writing, there is no specific format for a title page. It is therefore recommended to request guidelines from an instructor or professor to be certain the appropriate information is included.

DESIGN: The title of the paper appears centered on the first page of text in all capital letters. It should be in 12-point font and not italicized, underlined, bolded, or in quotation marks. Numbering of the pages has specific requirements: the page number is placed at the bottom center of the first page of text; after that the number appears in the upper right-hand corner. Every page is assigned a number even though page numbers do not appear on the title page or other display pages (i.e. tables or charts). However, the table of contents pages are assigned lowercase roman numerals.
Block quotations are quotations 3 lines or longer and include at least 2 sentences. They are single spaced and indented 4 spaces from the left. Short block quotations should end with a superscript number leading to an endnote or footnote. Paragraph-long block quotations do not use a superscript number and footnote or endnote; instead, they are followed by parenthetical citations (Author’s last name, year, of publication, page number) with the punctuation before the citation.
PAGE FORMAT: Use 12-point Times New Roman font on all pages of the paper. Double space the text, but single space the footnotes and endnotes. Leave a one-inch margin on all four sides of the document.
IN-TEXT CITATIONS: Quotations, paraphrases, and summaries are cited by using either footnotes or endnotes. In the text, the note numbers are superscript, follow the passage being referenced, and come immediately after the final punctuation mark. Corresponding footnotes are placed at the bottom of their page of reference. The text and footnotes are separated by a short line, and the reference begins with a full-sized number. The first line should be indented. Footnotes continue their numbering throughout the paper rather than by page.
Example of in-text citation-
Arthur said “She was the first of her kind; mobile, efficient and able to overcome the effects of gravity and, even death itself.”1
FOOTNOTES: Quotations, paraphrases, and summaries are cited by using either footnotes or endnotes. In the text, the note numbers are superscript, follow the passage being referenced, and come immediately after the final punctuation mark. Corresponding footnotes are placed at the bottom of their page of reference. The text and footnotes are separated by a short line, and the reference begins with a full-sized number. The first line should be indented. Footnotes continue their numbering throughout the paper rather than by page.
Footnote example-
1 Jack Lamont, Kerrigan, Lurey and Foster: Friends for Life. (San Antonio: Billyboy Press, 2002) 102.
Endnote- If footnotes are required instead of footnotes, these are placed at the conclusion of the paper and serve the same purpose as footnotes. In-text citations still appear as superscript numerals, but the actual entries are found at the end of the paper, preceded by full-sized numbers with periods. As with footnotes, the first line is indented.


First Name Last Name, Title (Location: Publisher, Year), pages.


Allan Gatherman, The First Time (Boston: Newman, Brown, 1998), 129.


First Name Last Name, “Article Title,” Journal Title Volume Number, no. Issue Number (Year): page.


Ginny McCann, “Heaven and Greystone,” Reality, 42, 10 (2005): 34.


First Name Last Name, “Article Title,” Magazine Title, Day Month Year of Publication, pages.


Mary Swanson, “Little Tommy Henson,” Pretentious Reality, 12 May 2004, 23-29.
Web site

First Name Last Name, Title, Organization, or Web Site, type of electronic medium, access date.


Larry Thomas, Always Wary of Strangers, Monsters on the Loose, Internet, available from http://www.premiumacademicessays.com
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