How to Write an Abstract in MLA Style for Humantities

Assorted-product displays on white shelf.jpg

Modern Language Association (MLA) style is most commonly used to write papers and cite sources in college-level humanities courses. An MLA-style abstract is a brief summary of a completed research paper that motivates its audience to read the main text of the argument. Your MLA abstract should include short descriptions of your motivation for the project, methods, findings and conclusions. An MLA-style abstract for humanities topics is concise, to the point and about 100 to 200 words long.

Place the abstract after the title page and before the main text of the paper. The MLA format does not usually require an abstract. Check with your professor before including an abstract in your paper.

  • Word-processing software (optional)
  • Computer printer (optional)
  • Red pen
  • Dictionary
  • "Modern Language Association Handbook"

1 Writing

State your motivation for the research project. Include why you decided to research the issue and why your audience should care about the topic.

Describe briefly your research methods, or how you obtained your results. For example, you may have compared two novels or interviewed 15 politicians.

Summarize your findings. Include what you learned as a result of your research.

State your conclusion. If your findings have larger implications, include them in the conclusion.

2 Editing

A red pen is a handy editing tool.

Print a hard copy of the abstract if you wrote it on a computer. You will use the hard copy for editing purposes.

Cross out words, phrases and sentences that do not add value to the abstract. Use a red pen for this task.

Check the abstract for errors, such as errors in grammar, spelling and word usage. The abstract should be error-free to gain readers' trust. Use a dictionary for reference.

Change the abstract's computer version or produce a new version with a different device according to your hard copy's editing marks.

3 Formatting

Double-space the text of the abstract, and use a legible font, such as Times New Roman in 12-point type.

Set the margins of the paper to 1 inch on all sides, and leave only one space after punctuation marks.

Indent the first line of paragraphs 1/2 inch from the left margin.

Include italics instead of quotation marks if you reference a long work in the abstract.

Print the finished abstract on standard, white 8 1/2-inch by 11-inch paper.

Jackson Armstrong has been writing since 2010. While contributing articles to eHow, he also works as a freelance copy writer and editor for a website design and development firm. Armstrong holds a Bachelor of Arts in English literature from Western Washington University.