How do I incorporate lists into my essay in MLA style?
Note: This post relates to content in the eighth edition of the MLA Handbook. For up-to-date guidance, see the ninth edition of the MLA Handbook.
In humanities essays, lists are generally run into the text rather than set vertically. A colon is often used to introduce a run-in list:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie has written four novels: Purple Hibiscus, Half a Yellow Sun, The Thing around Your Neck, and Americanah.
But no colon is used before a list when the list is the object of the verb that introduces it:
Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie’s novels include Purple Hibiscus, Half a Yellow Sun, and The Thing around Your Neck.
The list is the object of the verb include.