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Learning The MLA Bibliography Format

If you’re like most people, whether it be your first or fifth essay, you stress out over how to finish the project. Most people don’t have a problem doing research, writing the piece and sending it in for their grade. The problem they have is with the MLA bibliography and the format it requires. The Modern Language Association method is what most high schoolers and undergraduates use, which can be daunting and stressful for most freshmen. As you progress throughout your school career, you will get more familiar with the technique and rules, but those first few times can leave you upset and worried. Therefore, learning the basics can be helpful.

Learn The Basics

When using the MLA format for your bibliography, you should complete the essay and start a new page, with the word “Bibliography” or “Works Cited,” depending on which method your teacher requires. The listings should be alphabetized by the author’s last name, ignoring all punctuation and spaces. If there is no author or you can’t find one, you will use the Title to alphabetize the listing, ignoring the words The, An, and A.

Dates should be abbreviated, except for July, June or May, since they are short anyway. It is important to be consistent with your month-day-year style, but you have some leeway as to which method you choose. A comma should go after the year unless a period is required.

Should You Underline or Italicize?

Unless you are writing bibliographies by hand, publication names should be italicized. However, your teacher may tell you which method they prefer, and then you should use that style.

Hanging Indents

Most people are familiar with indenting the first line of the paragraph, but with the MLA bibliography format, you will indent the second line and all other lines for that entry by ½ inch. This is easily done using Microsoft Word and other document creators.

Abbreviations, Punctuation, Capitalization

Capitalization should include any first words, key words and last works, even those with hyphens. However, you should abbreviate and keep lowercase any parts of the work, such as editor and volume, except when those words are right before a period.

The title, publication information and author information should all be separated by a period and then one single space from the space bar. You can use a colon when separating titles and subtitles, as well as including all punctuation found in the title. Consider reading the handbook or manual to learn more.

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