Working on a research paper that needs to be written in MLA format?
Wondering what MLA format is?
Want to know the simple steps of writing your paper in MLA format?
Following MLA format in writing a research paper may seem pointless and tedious, but there really is a logical reason . Standardized research paper formats make your work coherent and uniform text, making it accessible and understandable for the readers.
There is really no mystery to MLA citation formatting. The Modern Language Association (MLA) is an organization dedicated to the study of English language and literature, and to providing guidelines for researchers to present research findings in a consistent, organized format familiar to academic readers. Those MLA guidelines are the basis for MLA citation format.
MLA format guides writers in the use of consistent research citations within the body of essay text and within lists of citations found at the end of research papers. The whole purpose is simply to make it easy for readers to find and review those supporting documents quoted, referenced, and cited as source material within a text. Under the MLA format, writers use a specific system to use parenthetical citation to provide references in their Work Cited pages, research papers and essays.
What is MLA format
This article discusses everything--and unravels the mystery--about MLA format and MLA citation.
A research paper or essay composed in MLA style establishes the writer’s credibility through the use of academic sources within the writer’s text and as an appendix page titled Works Cited. Basically, writing in MLA style is an easy way to prove the writer’s research and conclusions based upon that research.
When you write an essay or research paper using MLA style, your underlying sources are given credit as “citations.” When those citations are written in specific MLA citation format, their credibility is apparent because those works cited are easily referenced. Accurate citations are key to preventing allegations of plagiarism--intentional or accidental--on the part of the writer.
When writing in MLA style, it’s helpful to refer to the MLA Handbook (8th edition). And--because there are varying levels of expectation for research papers--if you’re a graduate student or publishing your work, you must also go through the MLA Style Manual and Guide to Scholarly Publishing (3rd edition). Both are available at the MLA website.
Check out the additional resources provided in the MLA Handout to find a list of helpful books and websites for more information on the MLA style and its usage.
MLA format/style is used by scholars, researchers, and students working in Liberal Arts as a uniform method of formatting papers and other assignments. This ensures that your paper is uniform and is written in a readable style.
But what is MLA format used for? Two things: for consistency and protection against claims of plagiarism. Proper MLA citation formatting allows you to use the work of other researchers and writers because you’re giving them documented credit for their work and not falsely claiming it as your own. The MLA format is widely used for literature, language, human studies and liberal arts, but it can also be applied to other academic disciplines where consistent references are either useful or required.
Other academic citation formatting styles include APA, Oxford and Chicago; but MLA is recognized as the simplest to use and is highly effective when properly used.
MLA format is the most commonly used academic citation format, but it does have specific requirements depending on the nature of your paper.
Are you wondering how to write a paper in MLA format?
There are several essential guidelines to follow when writing MLA format paper which include:
Today, most of the documents are submitted electronically or via email. That makes choice of paper bond moot...but if you’re required to submit your paper in hard copy, make sure that the paper choice for your MLA format paper is the right one.
If you are going to print your MLA format research paper, use a plain white paper. Don’t go for any other color like ash, ivory or off-white. Choose a typical printer paper but of reasonably high non-translucent quality.
The recommended paper size for the MLA research paper format is 8 ½-by-11-inch. If you decide to go for a paper of a different size, seek the permission of your instructor before doing so.
There are 2 options you can follow for the MLA format heading
When inserting a heading on your first page, be sure to:
This is standard MLA header format:
Your full name
Assignment’s Due Date
A running head is placed on the top right corner of the page indicating writer’s last name, followed by a space and page number.
The MLA running head appears half an inch below the top margin and one inch from the right edge of the page.
Type your last name before the page number.
Don’t add p. before writing the page number.
There is no page number on the first page unless specifically required by the assignment.
MLA format header
Use a one-inch margin around the entire page. No content other than the running head should appear outside the one-inch margin.
It is not possible to manually check and calculate one inch. Set your page setting according to your requirement for MLA format margins.
Your paragraphs should start one and a half inch from the left margin. Don’t forget that the paragraphs should also be double spaced.
MLA format margins
When you are quoting someone else’s saying, you need to give them credit for it. There are different ways for MLA format quotes and how to quote in the body paragraph.
You can use the name of the person in the sentence while writing his quotation.
You can write the name in brackets at the end of the sentence.
You can use quotations to strengthen your argument or prove your point but keep the usage of outside sources to the minimum extent. They should not occupy the majority of your page.
A similar format is used when adding foot-noted citations to your papers. Footnotes are best used when:
How to indicate footnoted material without interrupting the flow
MLA format requires double spacing throughout the paper. MLA Double space should be used in the body of your paper, in the introduction, the heading page and the reference page as well.
You can use any font you like when you are writing a MLA format paper that is easy to read. The two most commonly used fonts are Arial and Times New Roman. Decorative, flamboyant, or distracting fonts should be avoided.
Make sure that the readers can distinguish between your regular font and the italicized version of it. An appropriate MLA format font. Is one with a visible difference between the two.
The recommended font size is the default size 12. You can also use other font sizes such as 11 or even 11.5 when you’re faced with space considerations.
Standard American English grammatical punctuation is to be used in any MLA format paper.
Use proper commas and punctuation marks where needed. Use a comma if the reader needs to pause for a moment while reading.
A single space is used following a period, not two.
When citing a source, use a period at the end of the entire sentence as in this MLA punctuation example:
“Have more than you show, speak less than you know” (Shakespeare).
Not the placement of the period at the end of the entire sentence.
Avoid abbreviations when there is any risk of confusion confusion. There are several specifid rules governing the use of abbreviations in MLA formatting.
If the abbreviation has all capital letters, do not use a period between them.
As an example,
United States will be US, not U.S
United Kingdom will be UK, not U.K
Sexually Transmitted Disease will be STD, not S.T.D
If the abbreviation is in lower case, a period between letters is appropriate.
As an example,
i.e. stands for id est, that means, “that is”
When you are writing the names of months, you can use the abbreviation for months longer than 4 alphabets.
i.e. stands for id est, that means, “that is”
When indicating the names of months, use the abbreviation for months longer than 4 letters, i.e.:
June = June
September = Sept
The use of lists is acceptable within these guidelines:
Items are listed horizontally as opposed to the regular vertical list, i.e.:
Shakespeare has written a lot of classics that are: Macbeth, Hamlet, Othello, King Lear, Twelfth Night, Romeo and Juliet, The Merchant of Venice, The Winter’s Tale.
Use a colon between the first part of the sentence and the list. If the list is a part of a sentence, don’t use a colon before the first item of the list.
Follow these basis MLA formatting rules:
MLA format checklist
Because future academic researchers who may use your paper as their source material, using the proper MLA format is expected.
What, exactly, is a citation?
Citations are how you inform the reader that a certain piece of text, a quotation, or other content written previously is to be credited to the author of that content. Whether published or unpublished, any expression of thought, analysis, or findings documented by others requires giving due credit.
There are specific guidelines to be followed when reporting the use of works by others.
Following are the core elements of MLA Citation Formatting.
Author’s name is the first thing that is included in the citation.
If there is one author, write the last name of the author first, followed by a comma and the first name.
Where there are two authors, record their names in the same order as it is shown on the source. Write the name of the first author is reverse order, followed by a comma and the word “and” followed by the name of the second author in the standard way.
Shakespeare, William, and Harper Lee.
If there are more than two authors, then use the name of the first listed author in reverse order. Add a comma afterward and then add the Latin phrase “et al.”
Shakespeare, William, et al.
If you are citing a book or a motion picture, indicate the name of the title in italics.
Shakespeare, William. Macbeth.
If you are citing a an article from the journal or one chapter from the book, indicate the title of the piece in the quotation form, followed by a period. Write down the name of the full source in italics after the title of the piece and then add a comma.
The second portion is called a container that contains other sources.
Aku, Hanjat. “I’m Drifting.” An Anthology of Modern Indonesian Poetry,
If there are other individuals that play a significant role in your research, you can also include them in the citation. You can add the names of as many contributors as you want.
Start this part of the citation with the word “by”. If the names are written after a period, capitalize the first alphabet. If they are written after a comma, use small characters.
Aku, Hanjat. “I'm Drifting.” An Anthology of Modern Indonesian Poetry, edited by Jane Doe,
There can be different versions of sources. If a source is different from other versions, then include that information in the citation as well.
Bernard, Alison, and Amanda Hale. The Nightmare of Wolf Street. 2nd ed., Pearson, 2010.
If there is a number related to the source which is not the publication date or version, then it should be included in the citation, noting volume and issue numbers. Use the abbreviation vol. for volume and no. for number.
Alina, Beatrice, and Keats M. Richard. “Fate of Earth in Next Ten Years: The Dying World,” vol. 3, no. 1, 3 March. 2010, pp. 85-90.
The publisher of source material is cited before the date of publication. The publisher for the website is the same as the name of the website.
Aku, Hanjat. “I’m Drifting.” An Anthology of Modern Indonesian Poetry, edited by Jane Doe, State University of New York Albany,
Write the date of publication at the end of the citation. Display the entire information of the source including date, month and year.
Aku, Hanjat. “I’m Drifting.” An Anthology of Modern Indonesian Poetry, edited by Jane Doe, State University of New York Albany, 1964.
Location is the URL or the page number where the source is found. When citing a website source, include the URL, deleting http://www. notation.
Use the abbreviation p. to cite page numbers and pp. for a range of pages.
Here is a sample paper that will help you get to know everything there is about MLA format essay.
19.1 MLA Format Example
Here is a complete MLA sample paper written according to MLA format and citation guide discussed above.
Citation and Bibliography
“Works Cited” pages and bibliographies are often mistaken for the same thing. There are, however, minor but significant differences:
On a “Works Cited” page, only those reference sources and research materials actually used in writing your paper and indicated within the body of your text are included.
In the MLA bibliography format, you should list every item you have consulted in your research work, whether you have cited the work in the body of your written text or not.
Citation pages follow your written text. The “works cited” page is commonly titled “References.” Both are the same thing as they comprise the specific title, author, edition, date, and page number references. Citation pages are used when references are given using the specific format like MLA format.
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