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How To Format An Essay In MLA Style: Easy Guide

University is very much about following instructions as it is about learning. Keeping tight schedules and doing things the “right way”, even if they don’t make sense, is just a day in the life of a college student. Like many, you may pose some questions about how to properly format an essay in MLA. Your first encounter with this format style may have you confused and scrambling for answers. Well hold your breath no longer. We are here with an extensive guide to walk you through how to properly format your paper so you don’t get any unexpected surprises with your grade. So let’s dig into the details.

Guide On Writing An Essay in MLA format

First, let’s state that this style is common when you study humanities. Subjects such as history, literature, and composition are commonplace to use this format. How this style differs is that humanities generally considers work timeless. Therefore, your citation style is not as data-centric as other scientific formats such as APA.

  • Heading

A great feature of the MLA heading format is simplicity. The requirements for the MLA style header are quite basic. All it contains is your last name and the page number. To properly format your paper, place this information in the top-right of each page will suffice. On the first page, center your MLA essay title and that’s all there is to it. 

  • Running header and page numbers

Many students, particularly those majoring in social sciences often get confused how to format a running header MLA style. Be relieved to know that this is not required. To sort out where to put page numbers in MLA, simply refer to the prior section of this article to have your text MLA page numbers compliant.

  • Margins

Answering what margin settings are used for MLA format, you’ll be happy to know that MLA format margins have to be 1” on all sides on every page including the bibliography and any appendices. This is easily accomplished as this is the default settings in many word processors, so when you start your assignment you don’t have to worry about margins for MLA format.

  • Paragraphs

The MLA paragraph format does not dictate how many sentences in a paragraph in MLA. However, the start of each paragraph should be indented an additional half-inch from the right margin. 

  • Quotations

The MLA quotation format for quotes less than four lines requires they be placed in MLA quotations marks immediately followed by MLA in-text citations which should come before the ending punctuation mark. For more than four lines, a block quotation in MLA you should place a blockquote. Simply indent the entire MLA quotation an additional half inch followed with your citation after the ending punctuation mark.

  • Paraphrases

The MLA format for citing paraphrases should be done carefully. First, it is important to be unique in your text, but also to give credit where it is due. This is a hard balance to find to avoid plagiarism. When in doubt, citing paraphrases MLA will ensure you stay out of trouble and retain your paper’s uniqueness.

  • Spacing

In all areas, MLA format spacing should be double spaced. This includes MLA line spacing in your bibliography and appendices. In the main part of your text, MLA paragraph spacing will also be doubled. While some universities allow single spacing for digital text, this is not common and always check with your teacher prior to doing your assignment if you’re not sure. This allows your teacher room to markup a hard copy of your version for final grading.

  • Font and font size

Nobody likes to look at a messy font and you don’t want something silly to distract from the seriousness of your work, that is why using a proper MLA format font is essential. If you’d like to know what font do you use for MLA, Times New Roman is the go-to font for an academic paper. It is easy to read and readily accepted. As for the MLA format font size, stick with a 12 point font. This will ensure it is easy to read without zooming and not too big that it becomes distracting.

  • Punctuation

English grammar generally rules the day here. The MLA punctuation rules are not so strict but there are a few things to consider. For the name of your paper, MLA punctuation titles use the standard title case. Also, reference punctuation in quotes MLA above to determine where you place your inline citations. Also, be sure to use your Oxford commas aka serial commas. The Oxford comma is used when you create lists of three or more objects in a sentence. Prior to finishing the list with your conjunction, a comma is required. This particular style is a stickler for consistency and the powers to appreciate uniform texts.

  • Abbreviations

Expanding on punctuation are MLA abbreviations. If the abbreviation is all capital letters and not a proper name, such as MLA state abbreviations, do not use any punctuation. Month abbreviations should use the three letter format with the first letter capital and end with a period. When quoting spiritual text, bible abbreviations MLA, after the referenced text, in parentheses state the book of the bible followed by chapter and sentence number separated by a colon. Also, be sure to use proper MLA date abbreviations with the publications year in your bibliography.

  • Numbers

Knowing when to write out numbers MLA is good to know. It’s not always indicative of how to use MLA style numbers. As a rule, if you can write out numbers in MLA in one or two words, type them out. Otherwise, use the numeral form. However, MLA citation page numbers are always in numerical form.

  • Images and tables

Students often don’t know how to cite a table in MLA or an image. Photos are people’s intellectual property as well and that’s why it’s important to state the MLA image citation, this goes for MLA appendix images as well. With images, you want to state whose photo it is along with the image title. Also list any contributors, such as the publisher and the name of the picture. A date of when the picture had been taken is also required when available. Tables follow the same format as images.

  • Table of contents

There isn’t a particular requirement for table of contents MLA format. We advise to include one with a longer essay structure that includes several stand-alone sections. This will help a reader jump to sections of the most interest and give an overview of what your text is about. You may want to create a preface that gives recognition to the primary influences of your work. Additionally, an appendix for supplementary information or a glossary may be of use to clear up some background information or provide bits and bobs for readers to skim over.

  • Lists

Creating lists in MLA format follow the generally accepted rules of good grammar. You can use formal lists with semi-colons and a full stop after the last line item. Or you can create a series MLA bulleted list -- creating the list as if it were one long sentence. Simply end each line item with a comma with the last having a full stop. A numbered list is particularly useful when giving ordered instructions for the reader to follow along with. Whichever style you use, be sure to use them sparingly where they don’t over crowd your text, but often enough to break up the monotony of the paper.

  • Citations

MLA citations are always found in the back in a bibliography but you are also required to make MLA in text citation whenever you reference another’s work. The author page number style is used in this format and is easy to follow along with your work. The in-text style simply requires you to put the author’s last name and the page number in parentheses after a reference. Put this information in parentheses to identify it as a citation. The Bibliography is a bit more involved. For this, we recommend you use an MLA citation generator to ensure you get all the required information.

Get a Helping Hand For Your MLA Essay

Writing papers is difficult especially when you need to consider all the caveats of the formatting. It’s always a good idea to buy MLA paper from professional writers. You’ll be able to meet any deadline, as little as three hours and get a guaranteed high grade. The best services, such as PapersOwl, provides 24/7 service with a dedicated customer service team always at the ready to handle your inquiries. So if you have a paper burning a hole in the back of your mind. Use the expertise of specialists who know all the details of academic writing. Your grades weigh heavy on your future and even if you’re trying to wrap up a conclusion for an argumentative essay, drop us a line. We will get one of our top writers on the job to get you out of a jam.

Formatting papers is a big drag on your time and with the workload of the university, it’s hard to make it all happen. Follow our guide on how to put together your papers and you are sure to hit all the points with ease. But if you’re sweating over a paper, let us do the heavy lifting. We will get it done, on time, quality guaranteed all the time.

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