Step-By-Step Instructions On Writing An MLA Format Research Paper

The MLA formatting is most commonly used to write papers and provide citations in the humanities and liberal arts. Usually, you can find out all the information you need about proper formatting guidelines in the MLA Handbook, but we’ve put out these simple step-by-step instructions for writing an MLA research paper for when you just need the basics:

General Format Rules

This style format is easy to use as a system for writers to reference their sources. This helps establishing credibility and demonstrates that you have conducted the appropriate research to discuss a topic in academic terms. While you may not be an expert, you certainly will have some authority to present your original ideas.

General Guidelines

Use a standard 8.5” x 11” white paper for your assignment. You should use a legible, sans-serif font (e.g., Calibri) and a 12-pt font size. Set your margins to 1” all the way around. You can pre-set double-spacing for the entire research paper so that you don’t have to do this at a later stage. Always indent the first line of each paragraph by hitting the tab key or manually inserting 5 spaces.

Format the First Page

In MLA, you generally don’t have to add a separate title page for your work. You can simply add your name, course information, and the date in the upper left-hand corner of the first page. Double space everything on the page. Your title should be placed immediately below the date, centered, without any italics or underlining.

Section Headings

With particularly long writing projects you might want to consider adding headings and sub-headings to arrange the information in a way that makes understanding it easier. Be sure you organize the content logically. Some assignments will require specific sections like methodology, discussion, results, etc., so be sure to use these as the default if you are working within a particular field.

In-Text Citations

You should apply credit to all information – paraphrases, quotes, facts, statistics, etc. – you borrow from other resources. Since your research have significant amount of supporting evidence or examples from academic sources, you should have to include in-text citations quite often. These should all include the author’s last name and page number placed in parenthesis at the end of the sentence.

Works Cited Page

For individual resources you should always list the author’s name, the title of the resource, the book or journal in which the resource was published, the publisher’s info followed by the year of publication. You should also include specific page numbers of you used an article published in a journal.