The MLA Style

APA, Chicago and MLA are academic writing styles that are currently very popular. It is likely you will be asked to use the MLA (Modern Language Association) style if you are a humanities or social sciences student. Those who are required to work with different literature sources should find MLA useful because of the level of detail it offers. A writer who needs to use non-standard media sources, for example, will find guidelines for citing these sources.     

There are some important requirements to be aware of before beginning to write:

  • Use double-spacing throughout. There is no need for extra line breaks in citation pages.
  • Footnotes and subscripts are recommended within text to allow the writer to provide a more in-depth explanation about the citation or to provide other essential information.
  • The past tense should only be used when writing about historical or events that have already passed. Otherwise, verb usage should appear in the present tense.
  • Allow one-inch margins on all sides and on all pages.
  • Use a 12pt Times New Roman font.
  • Citations within a text should show the author’s surname and the number of the page the source is taken from. All information should be parenthesized, e.g., (Shaw 87).
  • Leave a single space after punctuation marks.
  • Use the tab key to create a 1.5-inch margin at the beginning (first line) of every new paragraph.
  • With the MLA style, headers are needed on every page to display the surname of the writer and the appropriate page number, e.g., “Brown 7.”
  •  Usually, italics should be avoided except in cases of lengthy citations.
  • A separate page should be given to the works-cited list at the end of a paper. List all authors and their creations or works alphabetically.

With more sophisticated word processing software now available, it is relatively easy to set up any format you require before beginning to type.  

Essays should be structured correctly with the following components:

  • An introduction that explains the selected topic and sets out the thesis statement or main argument.
  • Body sections or paragraphs that set out the writer’s arguments together with supporting evidence to substantiate any claims. Each body paragraph should begin with a topic sentence while the remaining sentences are used to expand the topic and provide relevant information.  
  • An essay’s conclusion paragraph sums-up the whole paper.    

The works cited page in any essay is a critical element. Make sure you have used correct formatting and that every source is accurately cited.  

Although a title or cover page is not usually required in the MLA writing style, instructors occasionally request such a page. There are numerous free title page examples online or a professor may give you precise instructions or even a sample. Whatever the case, remember to add your last name the header and find out if your title page needs a page number.

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