Chapter 12: Documentation Styles: MLA and APA

12.1 Formatting Your Paper in MLA

Melanie Gagich

MLA and APA Documentation

There are many types of documentation styles; however, the two you will use most consistently in college writing classes are MLA and APA. You might think that it doesn’t matter which one you choose…but it does. A documentation style dictates how a manuscript is formatted, the way you cite outside sources inside the text (signal phrases and parenthetical citations), the way you cite bibliographic information (Works Cited or References), and the style of writing that you use. Sections 12.1 – 12.4 focuses on helping you format your paper, citations, and bibliographic information using MLA while Sections 12.5 – 12.7 focuses on APA.

Modern Language Association (MLA)

The Modern Language Association began in 1883 as a “discussion and advocacy group for the study of literature and modern languages” (“Modern Language Association”). The style was created by this group in 1951 in order to provide scholars in this field with a set of shared writing and citation guidelines. MLA is mostly used in the humanities such as English and modern languages. For more help with MLA please visit the OWL of Purdue’s MLA Guide.

You should always use Times New Roman 12-point font (unless otherwise directed by your instructor) and one-inch margins. The entire manuscript should also be double-spaced. Below is an annotated example of other important features you should consider and include in your MLA manuscripts:


More Information on MLA Format


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