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MLA Format Essay Writing Rules: A Brief Introduction

Writing in MLA format can be daunting at first because there seem to be an infinite amount of rules, and it’s hard getting them all straight. But it’s really not that bad once you have the basics down.

MLA stands for Modern Language Association and is a citation structure in which many liberal arts and humanities-related research papers are written. It consists of citations, endnotes or footnotes, and a works cited page at the end. Using the MLA style format can help protect you against plagiarism claims as long as you give credit properly to any credible source you use. It can also boost your credibility as a writer.

Paper format

You should always type your MLA style paper on a computer and print it out on a standard 8.5 X 11-inches white paper. Don’t use any curly or display fonts as this is unprofessional and makes your paper look sloppy. Stick to Times New Roman or any similar font that is easy to read and use double spacing. Set your margins to one inch on every side, and create a header where your last name and the page number is on the right margin.

In-Text Citations

Here is where you can quote anyone who ever said anything about your research topic or something important related to it. Of course, the quote should come from a credible source. At the end of the quote, or paraphrased quote, you should always give credit in parentheses.

Endnotes and Footnotes

Sometimes in your research paper or essay, you will need a little more room to explain a point in detail. You can do this in an endnote or a footnote, by using a superscript number after you punctuate the word or phrase that the note is referring to. You will then type your explanation on a separate page right before the works cited page titled “Notes”, labeling it with the corresponding number.

Works Cited

The works cited page should be the last page in your research paper. It is formatted the same as the rest of your essay but contains the title Works Cited at the top of the page. For each source that you included in your paper, you must determine whether it is Print, the web, or other types of mediums. Each medium has a specific way it must be formatted, but all sources should have a hanging indent.

The most complicated part to MLA is the works cited page because depending on what kind of sources you use; it is written in many ways. The good news is you never have to remember how to cite a book, or website, or online journal because that information is widely available. Keeping the basics of MLA in mind as you write your essay will save you from missing an important part to writing in MLA format.