MLA Essay Format - Formatting Rules & Specs


MLA Essay Format - Formatting Rules & Specs

Writing an essay is one thing; another thing is to make sure that the paper is formatted according to the general rules and meet all the academic writing standards. The problem is that different formatting styles have different rules, which is not so obvious to many. Thus, formatting of a header, in-text citations, or a reference page in APA, MLA, ASA, Chicago, or Harvard is an absolutely different thing. That’s why knowing the basics of a particular formatting style is a must for an A student since a single mistake can spoil the impression after reading even the most brilliant piece. If you have to write and format an essay in MLA, this guide will help you to cope with the task.

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MLA essay format structure

Once you start working on an essay, you should first think about a paper structure. Make sure your piece has an introduction, body, and conclusion. Another important element of a text is a thesis statement. 

  • Introduction - this is the very first paper of a paper that should go immediately after a title. One-two paragraphs length, an introductory paragraph should provide background information to the topic being under discussion further in the text. You can also use an intro to prove the importance and acuteness of the theme, thus, interesting a reader in your writer.
  • Thesis statement - it is the main idea that is being proven in the text. As a rule, a thesis statement is one sentence length. However, if your topic is quite complex and requires more elaboration and analysis, you can extend a thesis to two sentences.
  • Body - this is the main part of a piece. Although there are no rules on how long it should be, we recommend you divide this part into paragraphs to make the text easy to read and ensure smooth flow of thoughts and research. If needed, you can also use headers or bullet points to stress our particular pieces of the text.
  • Conclusion - this is the very last part of a paper that is aimed at drawing up conclusions and listing learnings. To make a conclusion the maximum effective and persuasive, list your strongest main points and restate a thesis statement there.

This way of structuring information is considered to be the most effective one. So if you want to get an A for an assignment, do not forget to follow the above order.

MLA formatting specs

MLA is one of the widely accepted academic formatting styles, which is used for essays, course works, term papers, etc. If you need to prepare an MLA format piece, then you are to adhere to the main formatting style standards:

  • The MLA format piece should start with a block of information containing a writer’s last name and a number of the page in the right upper corner of each page. Place the header flush right.
  • There is no title page in MLA format essays. The work starts with an informational block on the left containing info about the student’s full name, the professor’s full name, the course number, and the date when the paper is submitted. The above order is important, so do not violate it. This section should be flush left, double-spaced.
  • A title goes next; it should be written from the next line. A title in an MLA format has to be centered. Do not underline, italicize, and never place it in quotation marks (the only exception is when you refer to other works in your title). Use the Title Case for the title.
  • When formatting in-text citations in MLA format, specify the information about the author of the work you are citing and the page number with no comma between them.

For example,

In Africa, beating the heat is significantly performed by using some of the traditional means of shade and water (James 150).

  • When the author of the work is unknown, use a shortened title of the work instead of a name of an author.
  • If while paraphrasing the statement, the name of the author is mentioned in the text, you need only to indicate the page number in parenthesis at the end of the sentence.

For example,

According to James, in Africa, beating the heat is performed by using some of the traditional means of shade and water (150).

  •  Use block quotes in case quotations are more than 4 typed lines. Block quotes should start from a new line, are double spaced, and are indented 1” from the margin.
  • Unlike APA, there are no concrete rules on how to format headings in papers of the MLA format. It is better to develop your own system of headings and stick to it. For example, first-level headings: bold, title case, flush left; second-level headings: italics, title case, flush left; third-level headings: centered, bold, title case; forth-level headings: centered, italics, title case.
  • The list of sources used should appear at the end of the paper – on the very last page labeled “Works Cited.” Double space all the points from the list, indent the second and subsequent lines by 0.5 inches to create the hanging indent. Sources should be arranged alphabetically by the last name of the author.
  • Following the above rules will help you format an MLA paper without a single mistake and get an A for the assignment.

Any questions?

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