Professional Guide on How to Format an Essay in MLA Style

Professional Guide on How to Format an Essay in MLA Style

Published by on 2021-06-24 10:43:47

When it comes to writing essays, research papers, and all other academic assignments, any student might feel confused. There are multiple reasons and aspects for students to get into frustration and even anxiety. They may find it challenging to process a topic, to come up with a worthy thesis, or to find suitable arguments for supporting their opinion.

Additionally, a student might be worried about special, non-typical requirements that a professor might ask them to keep up with. In most cases, all the frustration and anxiety fade away after a fresh student successfully completes a couple of assignments on their own. Nevertheless, one question is definitely among the scariest for them. Sometimes, even positive experience with their papers doesn’t work as a calming factor when this issue arises: a student wonders how to write an essay in MLA format properly and flawlessly.

MLA Formatting Style: What’s That?

Before we begin our guide, it may be useful for you to know more about the style itself. Most frequently, students fear the unknown. After you check this paragraph, the MLA format will not be a blind spot to you, so it will be easier to relax and then to read the guidelines attentively and calmly.

How to Write in MLA Format

So, an MLA formatting style (MLA is the acronym for Modern Language Association) is the most widely used one to format documents and cite sources for papers in humanities. Obviously, the Modern Language Association was the organization that introduced the requirements. They continue editing and developing the guidelines on purpose.

The MLA academic format is used in the USA, Canada, and other countries to complete assignments in languages, literature, orthography, and research papers on the same topics. The list of papers may also include comparative analyses, literature critics, media studies, and other subjects related to the fields above.

In April 2021, they published the latest 9th edition of the MLA handbook. Of course, it explains how to write a paper in MLA format and is mainly addressed to professors and students of high schools, colleges, and universities. Additionally, the handbook offers samples of MLA papers, text citations, references, and bibliography lists.

Now, when you know what an MLA format is, at least in theory, it is time to proceed further. We go deep into the details. Let’s see how to format your paper properly.

How to Start an MLA Paper

The very beginning of formatting is at the general parameters you’ve got to set. The following settings will apply to the entire document and every page it contains:

  • font: Times New Roman, sized at 12;
  • margin: 1 inch;
  • spacing: double line;
  • indent: ½ inch for a new paragraph;
  • capitalization: Title case for all headings.

That doesn’t seem too difficult, does it? You may take a deep breath and calm down if you are still feeling nervous. Further guides will not be more challenging. Just keep up with the points, and everything will be alright.

How to Write in MLA Format: Doing It Right

The knowledge about how to put an essay in MLA format will come in handy if you are a first-year high school student. It will be even more vital for you in case you plan to pursue your Master’s or PhD degree in the future. So, keep it up.

Heading and Title Page: Begin It Correctly

To shape the MLA heading properly, you need to align it to the left side of the first paper’s page. The heading should provide:

  • the author’s full name;
  • the name of a supervisor (professor, instructor, etc.);
  • the number or name of the course;
  • the assignment’s due date.

When you complete the heading, proceed with the title. To place it correctly, hit the “enter” button one time, and type that title. Then, place it at the center of the row. It is critical to capitalize words properly according to the title case.

Done? Okay, let’s move on.

MLA Header: How to Format the Top of the Page

This includes the first page in MLA!

The header here gives the author’s last name and the number of the page. The step-by-step guide for Microsoft Word or Google Docs is, fortunately, the same. To create a proper header, you should:  

  • point a cursor at the page’s top margin, and click there twice;
  • add your last name to the zone lighted after;
  • apply automatic numbering to all pages;
  • set the right-side alignment to the header’s content;
  • insert automatic page numbering;
  • align the content to the right.

Again, there is nothing difficult. However, the next paragraph will require a bit more thoroughness and attention from you to make it right from the first try.

How to Write an Essay in MLA Format: Works Cited Page

The works cited page contains the information about every reference directly used to build your essay and its proofs. It is the completely separate, new page placed last in the paper. To move to a new page without striking “enter” many times in a row, press Ctrl + Enter once.  

Cited works should go A to Z. Important note: specifying the works you only checked for consultation is not needed.

The page should be properly titled with the words “Works Cited”. The type should be placed in the top row of the page and aligned to its center. Then, hit “enter” again, and set your references formatted according to MLA requirements.

In case the entire reference entry takes more than a single line, add a hanging indent of ½ inch to each line after the 1st one. The spacing is the same as for all other pages: double.

Proper Citations

As you understand already, an essay, a research paper, or any academic assignment you complete needs to have the info from other sources cited. That citation varies from one formatting style to another.

In the case of MLA citing, two kinds of citations exist: full and in-text.  

When pointing out the information on the Works cited page, make sure you keep up with the following order and formatting:

Last name of the author, then their First name. “Source Title.” Container Title, contributing authors, editions, numbers, publisher, publication date, place.

How to Put an Essay in MLA Format

To make the lives of students easier, many specialized services and freelancing enthusiasts created websites with citation scripts available to use for free. There you provide the script with the necessary info about the source(s) you want to cite, and the simple program applies the algorithm to generate the properly crafted MLA citation. You only copy and paste it into your Works Cited page. That’s it.

Writing an Essay in MLA Format: Headings and Subheadings

Well, this is more relevant for long essays or research papers that should be structured with the use of correctly formatted headings and subheadings to make it simpler to navigate through the information volumes. Rules of MLA format do not set strict formatting recommendations and demands about your headings. Just do not put a period after them. And, of course, make sure they are consistent.

It is better to adjust to the rest of the demands. For instance, keep the same Times New Roman font and its size, and apply the standard title case capitalization.

To Conclude

Now you have all the necessary knowledge about how to type an essay in MLA format. Just like any other skill in general, and academic one in particular, the understanding and applying of the required formatting is a matter of practice. You might want to add this guide to your bookmarks because, most probably, you’ll need it more than once throughout your studying.

Do not forget that you can always ask professional writers online to help you with any aspect and type of any academic writing assignment. Whenever you need assistance, experts are nearby to give you their helping hand.