How to Properly Format Your MLA Essay

MLA, or Modern Language Association, is a style that is used most often for writing papers and citing sources. This style provides writers with a system to reference your sources with parenthetical citation in the essays and the Works Cited pages.

When a writer is able to properly use MLA it will help to build their credibility by helping to demonstrate their accountability regarding the source material. However, most importantly, MLA style will help to protect writers from being accused of plagiarism.

General Guidelines for MLA Formatting

When you are writing in MLA style, you should follow these guidelines:

  • Type the paper on a computer and print it on 8.5 x 11 inch standard, white paper.
  • Double space the text and choose a font that is legible, such as Times New Roman. The size of the font needs to be 12 pt.
  • Use only one space after punctuation.
  • Set one inch margins on all sides.
  • Indent the first lines of each paragraph one half inch.
  • Use a heater that will number the pages in the upper, right corner.
  • Use italics for titles.
  • Include endnotes on a separate page before the Works Cited page.

Formatting the Essay’s First Page

When creating the first page of your essay, use the following guidelines:

  • Avoid titles for the page unless they are requested.
  • List your name, instructor’s name, the actual course and date on the first page in the upper, left corner.
  • Center and double space the title.
  • Use italics or quotation marks when referring any other work in your title.

Using Section Headings

There are some instances where you will need to use section headings in order to help the document be more readable. These sections can include the individual chapter, or some other named portion of an essay or book.

Essay sections need to be divided by a number, followed by a period, space and then the section name. For example:

1. Heading One

This is the proper way to use these types of headings in your essay that you should follow.

While formatting your essay properly may seem like a bit of work to begin with, after you have done it a few times, it will be second nature. Using the tips and examples here will help you ensure that your essay is properly formatted no matter the subject matter or topic that you have been assigned.



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