Presenting Evidence in MLA Format

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Unlike other official style guides, MLA format does not dictate the content of your writing or the way in which you organize or present the content beyond formatting requirements. Instead, MLA provides a structure for parenthetical documentation. In general, anything you are writing under MLA guidelines should follow the organization or structure that is assigned with the written piece. For example, if you are writing a research paper in MLA format, your basic construction would flow under this construction:

Introduction–Introduces the written piece and contains your thesis.

Body paragraphs with supporting evidence–Each paragraph contains one main point with supporting documentation of statistics, facts and information.

Conclusion–Sums up your thesis, summarizes your body paragraphs and addresses the significance of what you discovered or the conclusions you have drawn.

Ways for presenting evidence in MLA format

Once you have your research notes organized and an outline created, you are ready to write. The concrete details that make up your supporting evidence can be presented in one of several ways under MLA format:

  • Direct quote-This is a quote where the exact words are used from a source.
  • Indirect quote-This is a quote that summarizes or paraphrases an author’s original work.
  • Block quote-This is a quote that consists of four or more lines of text and is indented.
  • Footnote/endnote-These are an elaboration separated from the main text to avoid cluttering it with too much background information.
  • Quotes from poetry, drama or prose-These quotes have rules that differ from other types of quotes, such as the formatting for direct quotes or block quotes.

While all of these offer you ways in presenting evidence that supports your research paper or other type of writing assignment, you should aim to use a variety of ways to mix in supporting evidence to keep your paper interesting. Any analysis or commentary you add on your own regarding supporting evidence is also not guided by MLA format guidelines that apply to the type of content or how you present it.

Other considerations in presenting evidence under MLA format

In presenting evidence in your paper under MLA format, you also want to follow the guidelines for certain text rules. To ensure your content follows all MLA rules, make sure to check for the following situations:


  • If numbers can be written out using one or two words, use words (one, twelve, twenty-six, two thousand).
  • If the numbers require three or more words, use numerals (3 ½; 304; 3,037; 100,302).
  • Do not mix numbers and symbols. Use either 83% or eighty-three percent and either $10 or ten dollars, for example.
  • Do not mix numerals with written-out numbers; stay consistent. For example, write “20 of 290 questions were thrown out of the test bank,” not “twendy of the 290 questions.
  • Hyphenate any complex numbers between twenty-one and ninety-nine, any compound words where the first word is a number and any fraction (two-way street, one-half).

Emphasizing words or phrases

  • Scare quotes can be surrounded with quotation marks, but only the first time the word or phrase appears.
  • Any other word or phrase, including foreign words, are italicized when it first appears only.

While other areas of specific ways to present supporting evidence and other text may apply, such as capitalization or abbreviation rules under the MLA format, those topics are covered in-depth in separate articles.

Whenever you are writing and using the MLA format, the overall presentation of your written work, and your grade if the piece is based on a grade, are negatively affected when you do not follow the ways in which presenting evidence and other information is required under the MLA style guide.