Modern Language Association
MLA stands for the Modern Language Association. MLA is the most common style of documentation for literary research and academic papers in the humanities field. It follows a specific set of rules for formatting papers, and is considered one of the standard reference formats in academic arenas.
This association publishes a handbook (with updates every few years) that provides the formatting standards for academic papers. You are required to understand and apply the formatting styles outlined by the MLA for your papers in this course.
This course does not provide you with tutorials or examples of every possible type of source and its corresponding citation. You are expected to be able to use the tools you have to find out how to cite these things yourself. For instance, if you interview your grandfather for a research paper on the Vietnam War, YOU must determine how to cite such a source. You will be held accountable for citing any and all of your sources, regardless of whether your instructor has covered the details of a particular kind of source.
MLA can be complicated and a bit nit-picky. However, there are many resources available to you to help with the process of learning and applying MLA:
- First is your handbook, Diana Hacker’s A Writer’s Reference.
- Second, one of the most widely recognized online sources of assistance is available via Purdue Universtiy’s OWL (Online Writing Lab). There is a link to this source in the sidebar of this website.
- Thirdly, you can learn to use Microsoft Word’s Reference tool. There are a number of videos that teach you how to do this for various versions of Word. Try searching YouTube for a tutorial on the version you are using.
Other Language Associations
MLA is not the only formatting style. There are other Associations, including American Psychology Association (APA) and Chicago Style, which are the two most common. These simply adhere to different rules. We will be using MLA for most of our papers because it is a course in the humanities. However, since this course is also about science, there will be one paper where you may choose a different style, if you would like to familiarize yourself with one of the other language associations.