Dr Abel Scribe PhD

MLA Basic PDF

MLA Basic pdf is an abridged version of the pages online. Doc Scribe's MLA Basic does not support the revised reference format introduced in the eighth edition of the MLA handbook. The revision departs greatly from the reference format borrowed from the Chicago Manual of Style long ago, and to no good purpose. Since 1984, through six editions of the handbook, this format has helped define MLA style. There is a long history of changes introduced in one edition of the MLA handbook being reversed in subsequent editions. The current edition will likely suffer the same fate.

MLA Basic for Research Papers: Contents


1.0 Mechanics of Writing
  • 1.1 Abbreviations/Acronyms
  • 1.2 Capitalization (Titles)
  • 1.3 Italics/Quotation Marks
  • 1.4 Numbers & Dates
2.0 Page Layout
  • 2.1 Title & Text Pages
  • 2.2 Direct Quotations
  • 2.3 Headings & Lists
  • 2.4 Tables & Graphics
3.0 Text Citations
  • 3.1 Basic Format
  • 3.2 Ephemeral Sources
  • 3.3 Literary Citations

4.0 References
  • 4.1 Works Cited Page
  • 4.2 Articles in Journals
  • 4.3 Books & Compilations
  • 4.4 Nonprint Sources

Quick Study

Doc Scribe Apply by Example. The MLA's "container" and template approach to constructing references runs to 58 pages in the handbook. It's a little like reading a dictionary when all you want is to check the spelling of a single word. Thankfully, the MLA offers three sample papers in perfect MLA style to guide you setting up your own paper. Download below.
There are some things that can trip you up, things that are not obvious in perusing these papers. MLA Basic can fill the gaps. This site is focused on providing guidance to advanced students seeking to present a polished paper at a conference or at a seminar. It presents a refined version of traditional MLA style. It may not be appropriate for beginners, especially those facing a pedantic professor.

  • Mechanics of Writing. Common usage is vague in some areas. The MLA, like all styles, has specific rules on things like abbreviation, capitalization, the use of italics and quotation marks for emphasis, and the presentation of numbers. MLA Basic, the website and pdf, are reliable guides.
  • Quotations. The MLA has elaborate rules for these. The online page differs from the pdf version in that block quotes are single spaced in the later. Everything in MLA style is supposed to be double spaced.
  • Headings. The MLA handbook has never made provision for headings and subheadings in papers though every other style does. Papers published in the MLA's own journal use subheadings, but apparently these are not for use by students.
  • References. MLA Basic, online and pdf, follows traditional MLA style, not the new "container" style. If you don't find a reference in the sample papers that matches your source you will have to apply the instructions on MLA's website: style.mla.org. Sorry.
  • Page Format. MLA Basic, online and pdf, offers precise measurements for formatting pages. Remember to double space everything.
  • Text Citations. This section in MLA Basic is a reliable reference. Remember, the MLA handbook requires everything cited to be referenced, even stuff like personal emails that can't be recovered by anyone but you. Ignore the section on Ephemeral Sources.
  • Tables & Graphics. These are only featured on the online version of MLA Basic.
  • Endnotes. The MLA handbook makes no mention of the use of endnotes, but these are found in one of the sample papers. The sixth edition of the MLA handbook (2003) has an appendix describing the use and format for endnotes. This is not found in more recent editions.

MLA Basic

Download PDF MLA Basic for Research Papers. This is a rogue version of MLA style. The twelve-page style sheet follows the 60-year MLA tradition in formatting references while adopting features and requirements shared by other styles or mandated by accepted standards of scholarship by everyone but the MLA.

MLA Sample Papers

These papers are on MLA's website, style.mla.org and intended for student use. The comments are abstracted from the website, edited to the standards of William Strunk's Elements of Style, especially the famous advice to "omit needless words."

"The sample papers were written by MLA staff members. . . . You may find . . . the writing and documentation [citations & references] . . . polished. [T]he sample papers serve as models, [so] we aimed to make them free of errors in grammar and documentation."

Download PDF First-year course in expository writing. The paper, on assisted reproductive technology and the family, includes an example of using ellipses when omitting words from a quoted source.
Download PDF Second-year course in African American studies. This paper, on Jacob Lawrence's Migration series, shows you how to incorporate figures into your text, style a block quotation, and cite a variety of sources.
Download PDF Fourth-year course in English literature. This paper, on Jane Austen's Mansfield Park and the courtship novel, features examples of how to use [end]notes in MLA style, cite a dictionary definition, and more.
The current MLA handbook is available online at style.mla.org.