How to Format Dates in MLA Style
  • 3-minute read
  • 4th August 2023

How to Format Dates in MLA Style

Are you a student, researcher, or writer navigating the intricacies of academic writing? Whether you’re working on an essay, research paper, or any other scholarly work, adhering to proper citation and formatting guidelines is essential.

One crucial aspect of maintaining consistency and professionalism in your work is correctly formatting dates. In this guide, we’ll delve into the specifics of formatting dates in the Modern Language Association (MLA) style and provide you with examples to ensure your writing stands out for all the right reasons.

General Guidelines for Formatting Dates in MLA Style

Month Abbreviation

When formatting dates in MLA style, use the abbreviated form of the month followed by a period. The month abbreviations are as follows:

January → Jan.

February → Feb.

March → Mar.

April → Apr.

May, June, and July remain as they are.

August → Aug.

September → Sept.

October → Oct.

November → Nov.

December → Dec.

Day and Year Placement

The day and year are both written in Arabic numerals. In the main text, you’re free to use either the month-day-year order or the day-month-year order – you must use the same format consistently.

If you’re using the month-day-year order, you should include a comma after the day. If the date appears mid-sentence, MLA requires that you include a comma after the year as well:

The festival, which was first organized on Feb. 17, 2018, happens every year.

The order you choose will likely depend on your dialect preference. American English tends to favor month-day-year, while British English uses day-month-year.


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July 4, 1776

Dec. 25, 2020


11 Nov. 1918

3 May 2004

Works Cited Entries With Dates

MLA recommends including the full date for certain types of sources, such as newspaper articles, in the Works Cited list. When doing so, you should follow the day-month-year order, regardless of the format you used in the main text. Here’s a fictional example of how a date might appear in a Works Cited list entry:

Simmins, Harry. “Why Coffee Shops are Ditching Lids.” Santan News, 12 Sep. 2021,

Why Correct Date Formatting Matters

Accurate and uniform date formatting enhances the aesthetics of your work and contributes to its clarity and ease of comprehension. When readers encounter properly formatted dates, they can quickly grasp the chronology of the events you’re discussing.

Consistent formatting demonstrates your attention to detail and your dedication to meeting academic standards.


If you’re following the MLA style, adhering to its guidelines on formatting dates not only ensures consistency but also aids your readers in understanding your work. By following the examples and guidelines outlined in this guide, you’ll be well on your way to mastering the MLA style.

And if you’d like an expert to check your references, citations, grammar, spelling, punctuation, and more, try out a free sample of our proofreading service today!

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