What Is MLA Format: Easy Guidelines for Students

When it comes to research and academic writing, formatting and citation are just as important as the content. The MLA style is one of many formatting styles that researchers can use as a guide to provide excellent papers. In this article, you will learn about this format and how to write a research paper in MLA format.

What is MLA format?

MLA is an abbreviation of the Modern Language Association. Introduced in 1931, the MLA style format was initially used to ensure consistency and uniformity in literary and language academic writing. Scholars use the guidelines in the MLA handbook to make their content more readable and credit their sources appropriately.

MLA research paper structure

Over the years, the MLA handbook has been revised multiple times. The current guidelines contain specific instructions about every aspect of an academic paper, including paper size, margins, fonts, binding, and citation. Below are some details about modern-day MLA style formatting.

  • Guidelines for the cover and header

The cover of your academic writing is the first thing the reader sees when you hand in your paper. It should contain the name of your institution, the title, the subtitle of the content, your name, course name, and course number. Finally, it should have the name of your supervisor and the due date for submission in this order.

You only need one MLA header on the first page of your work, just after the cover page. Some professors may let you get away with just a header instead of a cover page and header. Your header should appear at the top right of your page, but it should be left-aligned. It should contain your name, professor name, course number, and date.

  • MLA body format

The body of research papers MLA must be written with easily readable fonts like Times New Roman or Ariel. Font sizes should be between 11 and 12, the gold standard across writing styles. However, endeavor to use double line spacing throughout the paper rather than the single line spacing. Also, make sure entire paragraphs are left-justified.

Numbering your pages is necessary when using the MLA style for academic writing. When writing numbers within the body of the content, you have two options. You can either use Arabic or Roman Numerals. The handbook suggests that you can spell out your numbers or write them out traditionally.

  • Guidelines for citation and references

The MLA handbook recommends in-text citations. These citations should be backed up by references at the end of the paper. Your citation should have nine primary elements. Make sure you mention the author’s name, the title of the original paper, and the container title according to the MLA format guidelines.

If there are other contributors, you need to credit them too. State the version of the work. Is it the first, second, or third version? Also, you should mention the publisher’s name, publication date, and location. The location is also essential, even if it is an online source.

You must always cite your paper to primary sources. Otherwise, you will be giving credit to the wrong person. Make sure that the reference is the most recent on the subject. There are many specific guidelines about how to cite your content with MLA style. However, there are online tools that can make in-text citations and references significantly easier.

MLA research paper writing tips

Below are some tips for writing the perfect MLA style research paper:

  • Avoid plagiarism at all cost
  • Make sure your text is grammatically correct
  • Maintain a consistent style throughout the content
  • Avoid adding opinions and stick to facts
  • Use academic language, but make it clear and concise
  • Write in an active voice, not a passive voice
  • Don’t add any clichés
  • Discuss one point per paragraph
  • Make sure you address the subject in the body


MLA format guidelines are easy to understand and follow consistently. Initially, you will have to dedicate some time to learning vital requirements. Using the MLA style in all your writing, not just academic work will help you master it faster. Perfecting your research writing with the MLA handbook will make you a better writer overall.

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *