Writing in the MLA Essay Format

Certain formatting styles such as the MLA essay format are popular in the academic world

If it is the case you are studying a social science or humanities subject, you may be asked to apply the Modern Language Association (MLA) formatting style. This standard is beneficial for students who work with many different types of sources since there are a lot of details to take into account. The MLA style provides guidelines for citing all types of sources including non-conventional sources. Here are some writing tips: 

  • In an MLA format essay, double-spacing is used throughout with no additional line breaks in citation pages.
  • Subscript numbers and footnotes are recommended to allow you to add important information and/or provide further explanation.  
  • The past tense is expected when writing about past events. Otherwise, the present tense is recommended.
  • When using the MLA citation format, allow margins of one inch on the four sides of every essay page. 
  • Use a 12-point Time News Roman style font.
  • Within your text, cite your sources in parenthesis. This should include author name along with the page number(s) of the reference, e.g., (Jones 23).
  • Only one space is required after each punctuation mark.
  • If you refer to any MLA format template, you will see that headers are needed on every main text page. This header should contain your surname and the relevant page number, e.g., “Jones 7.”
  • Use your tab key to create a one-and-a-half inch margin for the first line of each paragraph.
  • Generally, it is best not to use italics, but it is permissible to use these where citations are long.  
  • MLA papers have “Works Cited” pages. These are lists of references added as a new, and usually the last, section of a MLA paper. You should list the names of any authors whose works you used and the name of the works in alphabetic order.    

Now you should be able to answer this question: “what is MLA format?” Therefore, you should be able to set up the desired format in whatever word processing program you use and commence writing. It is important you structure your essay correctly with the parts described below:

  • When learning how to write an essay in MLA format, remember the first section is the introductory paragraph. This describes the topic and sets out the thesis statement. 
  • When using the MLA format for essays, the body paragraphs are the next section. These are made up of arguments with supporting evidence. Topic sentences are used at the beginning of each new body paragraph to indicate what that paragraph is about. From here, you should expand your topic and provide any necessary information.  
  • In the MLA formatting system, the conclusion is the last paragraph and this summarizes your entire essay or paper.
  • Please note that “Works Cited” pages are crucial in the essay MLA format. Check that you use the right formatting and do not forget to include every single source you use.  

Of all the essay formats, MLA does not need a title page (also referred to as a cover page), but tutors sometimes ask for one. If you look online, you should be able to find sample of these pages or it may be that your tutor can provide some advice and/or examples. Whatever you decide, however, remind yourself to add your surname to your essay or paper’s header and clarify whether a number is needed for your cover or title page.